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E1000, Street Art and Citizen Codes

Those who’ve taken a stroll through Nieuw-West this past week might have noticed that Plein ’40 – ’45 is much more vibrant than before, thanks to the impeccable skill of Madrid-based street artist E1000. This project – a cooperation between Street Art Museum Amsterdam, Stadsdeel Nieuw-West and Wij Zijn Plein ’40 – ‘45 – was exceptionally monumental for us here at SAMA, as it provided us with the opportunity to add the first ‘ground mural’ into our repertoire. E1000’s work can be regarded as a prime example of the complex and interwoven nature of graffiti and street art; with a distinctively minimalist style that incorporates simple, clean lines and vivid colours, E1000’s work exudes a playfulness and optimism that the general public seldom correlates with graffiti. The Spanish street artist has considerable experience intervening on all manner of urban surfaces – walls, grounds, manholes, etc. – to create his signature bold geometric pieces. Working with the patterns already present within the surface, E1000’s work illuminates the beauty of previously neglected urban spaces, encouraging locals to rediscover their communities and view their surroundings through a new lens. Seeing as Plein ’40 –’45 is such a bustling social hub within the community, we couldn’t have chosen place better suited for one of his pieces!

The project, which was completed over the course of five days, was finished just in the nick of time, as the first week of September was bombarded by uncertain rainy weather, in typical Amsterdam fashion. Utilizing a cheery colour palette of oranges, yellows, pinks and purples alongside a contrasting monochromatic palette, the SAMA team were also given the opportunity to paint with E1000, who ever-so-patiently put up with our comparative lack of artistic skill! Despite our own shortcomings, it was an exceptional experience to enter E1000’s world, witness his unique thought-process, and discover his innovative technique of painting.

Informed by a great deal of art historical and academic graffiti research, E1000 drew elements from the existing community, integrating the distinct urban and social fabric of the area into this abstract piece. In the words of the artist

"I was wandering around the city looking for patterns and geometric shapes that people use to move around the city. I chose some of them and reproduced them on the floor of the 40-45 square, creating new compositions far from their original function. Finally kids end up using them to play.”

Using a critical eye, one can recognize familiar emblems and symbols that have been drawn from their ‘ordinary’ positioning within the community and translated into intricate pieces of urban art, ultimately highlighting the characteristic identity of the area. As succinctly reflected upon by Dianne Riley:

“He’s very precise. He has ideas that he writes down in a book and makes sure they actually happen – that they’re executed. He’s in love with his surroundings, and wants to contribute another perspective by adding his colours. He’s very patient. He connected to the whole team in his own way, using them as his own, and utilized the existing skills of our team to work for him and help him.”

Throughout the process, many passersby showed intrigue and curiosity in the project, asking questions and expressing their thoughts. As community engagement opportunities such as these are at the heart of SAMA’s mission, it was phenomenal to receive such a positive community response for the project. Support for the piece was fully exemplified at the official unveiling of the project on the evening of September 13th, in which dozens of community members came out to meet the artist and discuss the piece.

This project was additionally significant for SAMA, as it provided a special opportunity to apply the knowledge we’ve been cultivating with Impact Hub in regards to Virtual Reality. As followers of SAMA’s ongoing activities might be aware, we’ve increasingly adopted Virtual . Reality as a focus for the preservation of our existing collection, with the destruction of many of our monumental pieces continually looming on the horizon; however, this project granted us the first opportunity to record the creation of a new piece in VR! For SAMA’s Jesse Scott, this was a particularly enriching experience to, “learn more about how to use VR in new ways and to show the making of a new piece – beyond documenting something we’ve already finished.” The final VR video, which Jesse orchestrated from start to finish, documents, “different angles and close-up shots of everybody painting as well as footage of the whole floor.”

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