Rob Swain discusses the parallels between the Italian Futurist movement and Graffuturism
In 1909, when the world was in social, political and financial chaos, Italian writer and theorist Filippo Marinetti wrote a paper that would change the course of 20th century design: the Futurism Manifesto. The movement that followed posited a new appreciation of industry, technology and speed. But, to do this, it had to instinctively rebel against previous art forms and the traditional diktats.
Likewise, Graffiti rebelled and changed the traditional artistic cannon with its fresh ideology and perspective on the world. The latest exhibition at Blackall Studios celebrates this and looks towards the future of street art, comparing 'Graffuturism' with the early twentieth century Italian movement in Futurism 2.0. Dazed Digital spoke to Futurism 2.0 creative director's, Rob Swain, ahead of the expo...
Futurism 2.0 is a 3-part project; the exhibition is just the beginning! The book and later the film document the progression of abstract graffiti, how we got here and who played a part... Expect style, substance and a lot of straight talking
Dazed Digital: What is Futurism 2.0 trying to establish/accomplish and what ideals and qualities does it share with the original Italian Futurists?
Rob Swain: Futurism 2.0 examines parallels between 20th Century Futurism and a developing movement, which has been loosely dubbed 'Graffuturism'. The artists don't belong to this group in a traditional manifesto-fused sense, instead they have taken separate paths of evolution and ended up face to face. Like the Futurists they seek to break down structure, rules and preconceptions of what their art is. In this case Graffiti, a once rebellious form of urban expression that is now as 'traditional' as the old masters, which [Italian futurist] Marinetti once scorned. There's an interesting trait in human society when individuals or groups cause a revolution and they turn things on their head, they do it without regard for rules or convention because they are freely creating something new: there are no rules. Yet, within a short period of time, people will take up this idea, develop it and sooner or later create rules around it. It's that old tale of leaders and followers; build and destroy. The exhibition opens the debate and we examine further in the book and documentary.
DD: Can you tell me about the book/film that is accompanying the exhibition?
Rob Swain: Futurism 2.0 is a 3-part project; the exhibition is just the beginning! The book and later the film document the progression of abstract graffiti, how we got here and who played a part. There's a lot of history and a lot of different voices and perspectives, but we'll ensure it's well balanced. It's important that it's objective, we're not out to bend this into a predetermined conclusion. Expect style, substance and a lot of straight talking.
DD: How did you choose the artists involved in the exhibition?
Rob Swain: We worked through a very long list, there are a lot of other artists that should be in there but aren’t, but that's how exhibitions work. There's always a limit on space, budget etc. It was essential that we had established names alongside new blood, all of which had to be currently active and moving forward with their work. There's a shared hand in geometry, balance and advanced technique. We're talking masters and the next generation side by side.
DD: What about the upcoming show most excites you?
Rob Swain: All of it, it says a lot when almost all of the artists are travelling to London to be at the opening. We can expect new ideas, collaborations and developments from this group who'll be hanging out and painting together around London. It's been some time in the making, close to a year, and when the doors open I'll enjoy the buzz. The response has been overwhelming.
DD: As an artist, designer and DJ based in London - do you think London is still a hub for creative thinking?
Rob Swain: I've lived in many different cities around the UK and abroad, all of which have a great creative pulse. Great ideas and work can come out of anywhere - it's the creative mind that pulls them together. What cities like London offer is a playground for serious creativity, it's about being in the middle of it all. London attracts people from all over the world, people who are motivated. London makes things happen, I can't see that changing anytime soon...
Blackall Studios, 73 Leonard Street, Shoreditch , London, EC2A 4QS