Role of Street Art in Urban Environment Discussed at HSE CREATIVE HUB
On July 22, the HSE CREATIVE HUB space hosted the ‘AGREED’ street art festival. This is the first collaboration between HSE Art and Design School students and the CHAIN community. The event participants learned how street art changes the urban environment and also created their own artifacts in the form of special stickers and stencils.
Everyone has seen street graffiti, murals, and stickers on road signs at least once in their life. But should this kind of personal expression by artists in public places be considered art or vandalism? As part of the festival, invited speakers Pierre-Christian Brochet (curator of Contemporary Art at the HSE Art and Design School, Head of the HSE MUSEUMS LAB unit, and collector) and Alexander Izrailev (Head of the HSE Design Lab Territorial Branding Centre) discussed pressing issues related to the development of street art, graffiti, public art, and their role in the urban environment.
CHAIN is an association of contemporary artists that develops street culture. In 2017, the group launched its first festival and went on to implement more than ten large-scale events with major international and Russian brands: PwC, Red Bull, LEGO, Levi’s, and the 2×2 TV channel. From 2019 to 2022, CHAIN founded its own media, did a series of projects with Nike, and became the official PR and SMM agency for the SuperStep sneaker store.
‘To me, there are a number of questions that relate to street art. Is it necessary to coordinate such interventions in the urban space or do they lose their meaning then? What role do collectors play in street art, if any? Well, and the main question: is it, in fact, art?’ says Pierre-Christian Brochet. ‘I have some thoughts on this. To me, street art is a kind of voice of young people who express their opinion on the most public platform—the street. But at the same time, artists are always aware of risks, which is also a necessary part of street art; an emotional statement allows them to fix themselves as a visible part of this city. And in this case, agreement is almost impossible. But then collectors appear and they can “protect” this or that work with their authority and leave it in the city space.’
Alexander Izrailev shared the origin story of the ‘AGREED’ street art festival. ‘We wanted to make friends with the CHAIN team; they have an amazing connection with young people who are closer to live creativity. We came up with the idea to create a joint festival, because, in fact, we and CHAIN speak about the same thing within the framework of art,’ he explained.
‘In our space, we mainly hold business conferences, but we needed to add some life to it, to have some blood pumping in our courtyard,’ adds Elena Ermakovishna, curator of the HSE CREATIVE HUB project.
Alexander Izrailev also said that members of the CHAIN community—street artists who place stickers and paint graffiti on walls—presented their works in the courtyard of the HSE CREATIVE HUB. ‘Here at the HSE Art and Design School, we can use the same visual language, but at the same time we do it in the closed spaces of educational institutions, in galleries. We are interested in discussing how acceptable it is for them to move in this direction and enter a legitimate dialogue—to sell their work,’ he added.
Ilona Lisotina, the founder of CHAIN, admitted she had been trying to establish cooperation with HSE University for a long time. ‘When we started working, we realised that everything we come up with cannot be imagined in any university in Russia,’ she says. ‘Surprisingly, the HSE Art and Design School agreed to our ideas, for which we are very grateful. Our artists were able to show what they are made of at a HSE University’s venue.’
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