Interview with the author of the book Graffiti Argentina. Let's talk about street art, publishers, European cities, and South America artists.
FC: Presentation ?
My name is Maximiliano Ruiz, 27 years old, I was born in Buenos Aires Argentina and I live in Barcelona Spain since October 2008. I am currently a full time producer and curator in street art, mainly focused in Latin American artists.
FC: How did you get into the graffiti movement?
Actually it was thanks to a film production that I made in Buenos Aires that I got very interested in Graffiti. The piece was about how people from the poorest parts of the city were adapting foreign cultures as ‘Hip-Hop’ and ‘Graffiti’ in to their lives.
FC: What was your interest in art and what led you to be involved in this culture?
What I like about art is the endless possibilities it offers. Art has something for everybody. I think that Graffiti get really into me because of its very essence of painting illegally and anonymously. Also because Graff is accessible to everybody, whether you just want to see it or want to do it.
FC: Tell us about the street art and graffiti scene in your country, then in your town?
The Graff or Street Art scene in Argentina basically revolves around Buenos Aires. After all Argentina has a 40MM population and 15MM lives at Buenos Aires. Street Art did not put his first foot in Argentina until the late 80’s, basically because of the military dictatorship Argentina lived from 1976 till 1983, right when graff was flourishing around the world. Then the first foreign traveling artists as Esher, Daim, Os gemeos, Vitche came over and fired up the small local scene. Then the locals had to evolve with the lack of incoming information about graff and the poor material available. But it wasn’t until MTN Colors landed that the local graff really grew. Of course these last few years have been essentials in the evolution of local street art identity.
FC: You started by shooting hip hop documentary in Argentina, is graffiti deeply linked to hip hop out there?
Well not really actually and that’s another beauty of the local scene I believe. Hip Hop certainly helped graff to flourish but most graff writers actually aren’t related at all to it. I believe that aid graff to evolve and develop in more and more styles.
The book: Graffiti Argentina
FC: Can you explain us how did it started? We read this article of Mathiew Kendrick author of the book 'La France d'en Bas' . We want to know your version now ;)
After this first documentary on Argentina Hip Hop I knew I had to do something else on the topic, I thought in another film of course. Until one good friend of mine showed me this ‘Graffiti book’ her girl friend brought him from New York. And that was it.. I just found amazing the idea of documenting the local scene in a format that I knew so very few about it. Believe me... I didn’t knew a thing about book publishing back in the day. Then in resume things went like this: I meet some of the most dedicated local writers to see how strong the local scene really was. And.. it was strong and very original. Then I looked for a publisher and Thames & Hudson was just the best one for this kind of project. I sent them the proposal and they said yes. Two years after lots of hard work, the book was being sold worldwide.
FC: People don't really realize how it can be hard to publish an art book, and especially a graffiti Book. What were the bigger obstacles you met during this adventure?
Getting pics from the writers is definitely an interesting task. Like Mathieu said... even harder if never hold a can in your hands and no body knows you. But being honest and showing commitment does the work. I would say that the biggest obstacle is accepting the fact that there are very few chances you’ll get all the money you invested in back. Making art books isn’t a smart business!
FC: How was your relation with your publisher?
Just perfect. They were there to help or advice when there was any technical issues to solve. I did my part and they did theirs. Hopefully we’ll work on new titles together.
FC: Any stories about the artists you met?
There are a several of course, like they guy that lost his finger jumping a yard fence or the other that has the local metro system map tattooed in his arm.
I could tell more but definitely they should be the ones telling the stories.
FC: What is the best acknowledge you learn with this experience?
The best thing is that many of them are now my friends and I’m being able to take them to paint in events or places around the world, thing that we never imagine it was going to happened when we first meet back in the day. Also the book was my first step in to my actual line of work and so far I haven’t found any other job that I enjoy the most.
FC: Where can we buy your book?
Both USA (Paperback) and UK (Hard cover) editions are available from amazon.com
But I’m also pretty sure you’ll be able to find it in most big bookstores.
The Events "Graffit in argentina"
FC: You organized several events in Paris, Barcelona, London and Berlin, can you explain us what was the goal of these events? And how it works?
All these events were basically based on the promotion of the local artists and the book release. Different argentine artists were invited to paint the venues live or previously in collaboration with distinguished local figures. Artworks where also featured along with live music. I divided the events in two different tours. Tour-1 visited Barcelona and London where the guest argentine artist was Caru who painted with Zosen and Kenor in Barcelona and then with Remi-Rough in London.
Tour-2 visited Paris and Berlin where the guests argentine artists where Aire, Poeta, Jaz, Gualicho and Caru whom painted with Amose in Paris and then with El Bocho and Loomit in Berlin. All these is review at graffitiargentina.com section.events
Parisian street art event
FC: What are the feedbacks?
Just great. We received 6.000 visits at the last event. There’s been lots of press and everybody is very satisfied, even sponsors!
FC: What's about the event in Buenos Aires?
Despite all these last positive results and the book success I still haven’t been able to get the local institutional support I need to make it happen. Anyhow we are negotiating a possible date early next year with the local museum of modern art MALBA. Fingers crossed!
FC: Yeah fingers crossed! Can you tell us what's the difference between these cities?
I’ve found very interesting each city current point of view about street art. Street art has experienced almost the same history around the world: It born, it became famous, and then got very oppressed. But I’ve seen that just in a few cities like London, Berlin or Paris street art is now evolving to new levels of recognition and acceptance.
FC: How would you describe street art and what makes it different than graffiti or would you say it all falls under the same umbrella. Do you think it's totally different?
My believe is that any artistic intervention made on the street is Street Art, no matter if it is graffiti, stencil, posters, stickers, or even sculptures and theatre. They are all different from each other, is just that they all share the streets. This is just my humble point of view.
FC: What's coming up in the next few months?
I am actually working on a new book on the same subject of course. There are two art shows I’m curating for next year. Both of them will feature distinguished and up-coming artists from Latin America. One show will be in Berlin and the other one will tour through Europe and USA on the second semester of 2010.
FC: What's your real goal?
Just get better on what I do and enjoy it all the way.
FC: Any words of wisdom?
A coger y a tomar que el mundo se va a acabar.