Boa Mistura is an urban art collective consisting of five Spanish artists all based in Madrid. They speak to Annika Schall about their art, working as a group and about their latest non-profit community project Luz Nas Vielas in Brazil.
Annika Schall: How would you describe the art Boa Mistura is doing and how is it different from those of other urban artists?
Boa Mistura: Boa Mistura are five heads, ten hands and just one heart.Maybe the thing that differentiates us from other artists is that we gave up our five individual egos for a bigger one. There are people who believe that Boa Mistura is just one artist. This is because we focus all our efforts in the same direction no matter if the execution of the work is done by the five of us, three or two. We always sign them with Boa Mistura, because behind that there is the reflection and the debate of the five of us.
Schall: So Boa Mistura is a group of five people. How did you meet and why did you decide to work together?
Boa Mistura: All of this happened spontaneously. The five of us are from the same neighborhood on the outskirts of Madrid, and we met painting graffiti on its walls more than ten years ago. A common friend put us in contact to paint a wall together, and we connected on an artistic and personal level. We became best friends and started to paint together more and more, we started to travel painting in urban art festivals and making some commissioned works. What started as a weekend hobby, became almost an all-day occupation, and once the five of us finished our studies, we decided to focus all our energy on Boa Mistura.This happened three years ago, and since then, we got a studio and we make a living of what we love the most.
Schall: How is the artistic process different when so many people are involved and isn’t it difficult to combine that many voices?
Boa Mistura: It is probably harder than working alone, but for us it is the hot point of Boa Mistura. The base of all of our work is the dialog and the discussion, but in a positive way, because above all, we are best friends (we are like a matrimony of five hehehe), and we feel a deep respect for the work of the rest.With every project, there is a big percentage of brainstorming and discussion, sometimes this takes longer than the actual execution of it. We discuss until we reach a point where the five of us are convinced. Sometimes this may not be the idea that you have supported the most, but if the rest of us is on it, you do it absolutely convinced because of this confidence and respect.
Schall: What are your artistic backgrounds and where do you get your inspiration from?
Boa Mistura: We got five different formations; Pahg is architect, rDick is civil engineer and artist, Purone is publicist and illustrator, Arkoh is graphic designer and Derko is Fine Arts graduated specialized on video and photo. This circumstance gives us five different points of view and makes us drink from very different influences; from a building to a sculpture, a coffee, a song, a movie, a chat with a friend, a dinner, a city….inspiration is everywhere. One important point for us about the inspiration is to get it from the place where we are going to intervene, because street art is linked to a place, you can't take it from the place where it is done.The work has to interact with the environment, with the place for which it was conceived, that's why we go to the places open minded, maybe with some intuitions about what to do, but with nothing closed, to let the place inspire us.
Schall: You’re doing a lot of non-profit projects like Luz nas Vielas inSão Paulo. What is the idea and your motivation behind these projects?
Boa Mistura: The project "LUZ NAS VIELAS" is a part of a global project that we are developing called CROSSROADS. Based on participative urban art as a tool to change run-down communities These are the kind of projects that fulfill us. When you come from a world like graffiti, you are used to do things by yourself, putting your money, your time and your risk just because you feel it. When we do this kind of projects we always say that we take with us more than we leave there.All the energy that people spread, shared experiences and the feeling that your work is helping. These run down communities, the only lack they got is economical, but humanly, we got so much to learn from them. The motivation is a double one; th vital experience that it is for us, and trying to be a spark that inspires all the people to change these environment for the better.
Schall: How did these projects change the communities there?
Boa Mistura: There is an example that sums it all up.In the vielas (the narrow streets of the favela where we intervened), everybody threw their rubbish and didn't care about what happens outside of these houses (they got too much to take care of inside, to care for what happens outside).Some days after the intervention, we saw one of the neighbors sweeping dog poop. This is because after they changed their own environment, they felt proud of the place they live in and they got the responsibility to take care of what they have done.Most of the times, people in this communities aren't proud of the places where they live, due to all the problems that surround them.This interventions are a spark to make them see that these are great places, with a lot of values to learn from. They help them to believe that, if they can change their own community with something as easy as painting, maybe they can do it in other aspects of their lives too.
Schall: Your art makes it possible for you to travel the world. Was there a special place where the street art scene was particular impressive?
Boa Mistura: There are a lot of cities where the street art is cool. São Paulo has got a very strong scene, Berlin because of how the city has integrated the street art as sign of identity, New York City because this is where it began, Valparaíso in Chile — there are so many impressive places all over the world.
In one of their latest projects, ‘Luz Nas Vielas’ (light in the alleys), Boa Mistura transformed a favela in São Paulo, Brazil through one of their participative urban art projects. Together with the residents of Vila Brâsilandia they developed and carried out five different concepts for the narrow and winding streets: Beleza, Doçura, Firmeza, Orgulho and Amor. Thereby they brought color and change not only to Brâsilandia itself but also to the life of its people. The project and Boa Mistura’s experience while living and working in the favela have been turned into a shortfilm.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.