From the first project Street Art Museum Amsterdam (SAMA) undertook in Amsterdam Nieuw-West (then called “Tales of the Nine”), SAMA’s collection has grown organically thanks to connections and support from artists including El Pez, Bastardilla, Stinkfish, Kenor, Orticanoodles and Btoy. Relying on graffiti’s family network to build its collection over the last nine years, SAMA has begun pursuing a new direction as a museum, grounded in our grassroots position, to archive, document, and write the history of evolution of this mostly illegal art movement into urban and contemporary art. In 2016, SAMA had launched “Romantic Anthology of Graff Writing” by Colombian graffiti artist ZAS and anthropologist Laura P. Casas. This was our first tap into sharing the voices of artists themselves, rather than academia’s theoretical interpretations of the movement.
With special experience to share on SAMA’s operational model, the museum was fortunate to be introduced to Croatian graphic and street artist, Lunar, at CreArt Encounter 2019 in Aveiro, Portugal, who was at the conference presenting his new autobiography, scheduled for release in August 2019.
Like SAMA, Lunar is a rare bird. Always seeking to find new ways to apply his graffiti background to new pursuits, Lunar’s book launch presents a unique opportunity for SAMA to collaborate with and learn from a figure who has been in the scene since its start, and has been witness to its evolution in the last 30 years. Lunar first came to graffiti in 1989 and besides blowing street art up in the Balkans as one of the first painters in the region, he has worked in graphic design, festival organization, has been featured in numerous graffiti and business publications, and more recently has begun DJing at both festivals and through his Zagreb-based radio show. Lunar has built his life around a continual pursuit of creative and intellectual growth, and as a participant in graffiti’s evolution over the last thirty years -- from text, to characters like his contemporaries the London Police and Pez, to conceptual-multimedia -- represents a unique effort in the graffiti world to intellectualize, document, and explain this movement for future study in an academic manner.
As SAMA shifts its focus from production to research, documentation, and professionalization, working with Lunar and hosting his book launch in Amsterdam will be an enormous contribution in the museum pursuing its academic goals. SAMA has not previously had the opportunity to work with any individuals who have been as integrated with graffiti’s evolution, its spread to new media forms and mainstream acceptance as Lunar’s career has been -- let alone somebody who has been as involved in documenting this movement from the inside. SAMA is excited to record Lunar’s oral histories as a contribution to other emerging research in the field of graffiti and street art, and looks forward to the release of his book as another primary document which can be used to support the museum’s research goals.
Lunar’s new book “From Zagreb with Love” is hotly anticipated as one of the first histories written of graffiti as a clandestine, global, multidisciplinary art movement in Eastern Europe, which also maps its parallel development with rap and electronic music, written from the inside by one of its first practitioners. “From Zagreb with Love” will be launched at New Metropolis in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in collaboration with Street Art Museum Amsterdam, on 16 August 2019.