Boa Mistura is a multidisciplinary collective of friends who have found an easy idea for doing something complex. They transform the cities gradually without approaching the topic in architectural terms, just using brushes and paint to improve public spaces and activate new social relationships in the involved communities. Following their steps from Brazilian favelas to Cape Town means finding the smiles of the people they met: after EXPO and Nicaragua, this is the chronicle of our conversation with them.
Boa Mistura means a few concepts: five friends with street art as common passion and different education, a ‘good mixture’ offered to the streets. How did you get the idea and when did you discover that this project was getting big?
Everything have developed spontaneously. Actually we are just five friends from Alameda de Osuna (Madrid), who met painting graffiti more than ten years ago. Each of us studied different things, without any preconstituted idea about a common working future. Gradually then, something that just started as an hobby has become more and more important until today, managing to afford an office in the center of Madrid.
We have never planned anything, so every new step is gradual. When we were meeting in our neighborhood for painting during the weekends, we were dreaming about working in such a field, but it was more like a teen fantasy. It has been hard work and constant commitment which finally leaded to effective results and allowed to make of our youth hobby our lifestyle. Concluding, it now appears clear that the reason behind Boa Mistura is nothing but the common passion of five friends.
Although your education has been more focused on artistic and visual than literary elements, words and poetry play a significant role in your works, lightening and conferring a precise meaning to it. Where do you draw your concepts out and how do they relate with the picture?
Concepts originate from the place, listening and feeling its stories: from the will of extracting its essence. Words touch, from the inside and the outside. Their meaning valorize our work and obviously the choice is not random. They are loaded with contents, with messages. Usually we prefer short words, with a long history. They charm us and shine for their meaning and sense. Playing between each other they create conceptual and visual dialogues which make them way more special, inviting everyone to think about new possibilities. To watch, read, internalize them and, hopefully, to finally feel and share them.
Anamorphosis and short poetic sentences are your own sign and mark, but in projects as Al Karama and Simbiosis you slightly acted for subtraction, focusing on the void and giving voice to the original, stratified walls and traces. How do you choose the approach for each new project and do you deal with the context in the Crossroad projects?
Even if it may occur to already have an idea, the context and especially the contact with its people are the elements that allow to approve or decline it. We always accept the challenge of building projects interacting with the place, which could improve it harmonically. We don’t just go there with arrogance or superiority, without considering what is around us. On the contrary, every stroke has a meaning and involves the viewer in a dialogue. A dialogue which tells a story.
In your work the final and visible result seems to be, like in the icebergs, only one of the aspects and activities involved in every project: how does the analytical and study phase work and how do you manage locations, funding and contacts for every new action?
Every project is single and different. It bases on a preliminary study work on the context, trying to discover everything we can despite the distance. Once there, we literally soak completely in the place and, from its skin and inhabitants, we find out how to concretize the project. Crossroads focus on Art as a tool for change in weak communities, trying to stimulate them into directly changing their reality. Our work has the capacity to inspire people and transform places, and through its positive messages, produce a change in the community.
You worked in obliterate realities in South Africa, Brazil, Panama, Cuba, Algeria always developing and activating a net of social relationships: could we say that the role of art in XXI century is to establish connections more than just offering itself for contemplation?
Yes. We consider art a tool for change, as something beyond simple contemplation. Involving people in art means activate them socially through the direct change of their reality. They appropriate of the place and a feeling of identity grows. It acts as a turning point, introducing the idea that if something ‘stupid’ as some paint can change or improve some aspect of your life, then it is possible to change others too! It calls for a change in mentality.
Art can connect different realities and gather people. During our Crossroad projects many families hosted and welcomed us and people directly worked with us. Through the work, new links develop and maybe people who didn’t talk to each other for years discover that they can work together to improve their public space. And always, in the end, they share a moment of celebration contributing as they like. This is just an example of how art could connect people, tie different contexts and be used as an actual tool.
In Six Memos for the Millennium, Italo Calvino proposed six concepts, according to a vision of a contemporary world increasingly fast and simultaneous. Lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity and consistency could describe very well your process. Is it possible to improve marginal contexts just through the use of paint? Could beauty be a solution?
Surely it is. It’s the idea that leads us day by day!
Your last project in Nicaragua has just been finished: which are your next stops? Living for painting and painting for living sounds good: has Boa Mistura finally become your work?
Absolutely, Boa Mistura is both our work and our passion. We feel lucky to live of what we love! Kenya, Dominican Republic, Chile, New York are just some of the next projects…