A big question still up for debate, society vs pop culture, is graffiti art?
Once upon a time I could vouch for both sides and understand the arguments based on where the graffiti culture flourished and what it was doing to our streets. In the 60s street art was considered the speech of the anarchist, using illicit self expression as their way to speak out against authority ( ie. Bansky). A sub culture that is one on its’ own and though many know of it, few understand its value to society and what it represents in the hip hop culture.
Under Pressure, the Montreal bred and largest graffiti festival in North America is marking its 20 year anniversary edition this weekend, August 8th and 9th. For times like these I am proud to call myself a Montrealer. It is a good feeling to see one of the longest running festivals devoted to the origins of hip hop culture in my city. And anyone who has been to UP before and knows the 4 roots of hip hop – emcee, b boy/b girl, djing and of course graffiti- you know you can expect a taste of it all over the weekend. Parties have actually been going on all week long in collaboration with UP. You’ve got the Art Attack exhibition tonight @ 221 and 256 Saint Catherine East for 5$, live painting Saturday and Sunday, free scratch sessions on Saturday, the annual b boy/ b girl battle on Sunday, and a variety of emcees taking the stage all weekend long. If you need to get in touch with your roots, or if you are interested in enlightening yourself then head behind Foufounes Electroniques to get a good taste of it. Aside from Art Attack tonight, the rest of the weekend activities are free entry, including the closing party.
Fortunately for me I have been exposed and seen it expand over the years as my grandfather is part owner of one of the buildings that participates annually. Today it’s reached international status while still staying true to its values. AND you best believe artists come from all over the world to put their graffiti up. These walls are a type of famous all of their own. Even after 20 years, Sterling Downey (UP founder) and company have managed to stay relevant within urban development, always involving the community and keeping it real – not to be confused with other international festival like Art Basal, and new local ones like Mural Fest, impressive but more mainstream among pop culture enthusiasts. With artist development on the rise, and the open mindedness that comes with it, this festival has flourished into something this city just wouldn’t be the same without.
Here is a link to the official program. In honor of this festival, I went back as far as I could to find pics and videos of past years. Hope you enjoy them and hope to see you there on the streets with me being all ghetto and shiz. Oh and bring your boards, skate ramp will be set up live.