“Ceci n’est pas 1 acte” by EDDIE COLLA

Interview 06-04-2020 – In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic

Name of the Street Art piece that has modified the urban space: “Ceci n’est pas 1 acte”

Location :Grenoble, France

Year : 2019

1- If you had to choose a Street Art piece that you created, as a transformation of the urban space, which one would you choose? How does this Street Art piece denote urban space metamorphosis?

A wall I did in Grenoble France in the summer of 2019. This piece, in someways, embodies what street art is to me; timely, topical and mostly ephemeral. I am not looking to “transform” anything. Transform seems too powerful a word. None of the work I do fundamentally changes the urban environment. It’s merely a part of it. I’m not looking to transform the urban environment, I am simply participating in it.

«Ceci n’est pas 1 acte» – Grenoble, France – Summer 2019 – Eddie Colla

2- Why did you make this Street Art piece in this urban space? Was it the town hall or the property owner who authorized or asked you to create it? Can we consider this work as illegal/vandalism or legal, what is your criteria?

I’m not sure I would consider it illegal, however it was not authorized by anyone. No one stopped me from doing it. The police did not show up despite having no permission.   Subsequently it was removed about 12 hours after completion by city workers.

3- What is the message you want to communicate through this Street Art piece? Is it related to the urban space where you did it?

I made this in the summer of 2019. Huge Pro-democracy demonstrations were taking place in Hong Kong.  In Grenoble I did this piece near Place Saint-André. Just 100 meters from where Robespierre signed documents at the start of the French revolution. Given the state of affairs around the world and increasing police state in nations like the United States, France, Thailand and most recently and obviously Hong Kong. Freedoms are eroding faster than people can react and police and military have become increasingly violent against the populations they are suppose to serve. I referenced the Magritte painting «the treachery of images» which contains the text «ceci n’est pas une pipe» this is not a pipe. I wrote «ceci n’est pas 1 acte» this is not 1 act. Below it much smaller I wrote «ceci est la réaction» This is the reaction. Governments play this propaganda game where they push their citizens too far, physically assault them, take away civil rights and when the people eventually react, they condemn and dismiss the protests as «violent». Taking no responsibility for inciting the violence. Self defense is not an act of violence. These are all reactions, not actions at all. Content people who are treated fairly, treated as legitimate and given a forum to voice their complaints do not take to the streets. They don’t break windows and set things on fire. Anywhere you see these conditions, they are a reaction to a corrupt dysfunctional system of representation.

4- How was this work integrated into the urban space? What was the interaction that the inhabitants of this city had with your project? Did they participate in its creation?

It was a wall in the center of Grenoble. There were some tags and areas buffed from previous tags. I didn’t prep the wall at all of remove anything that was already there. I just added to it. No one participated in the making of the piece. I did do it in the middle of the day and spoke with many people about it’s meaning and their reaction to it. The conversations were worthwhile. Perhaps even more than the actually piece. For me that’s what a good piece does, it initiates a productive discourse.

5-Do you think it is important that the inhabitants of the place participate during the production of your work and that they become modifying artists of the urban space or do you prefer to carry out your projects alone without anyone seeing you?

I prefer not to be seen. However, this piece took hours and that was impossible. I prefer to work alone and I am not a huge fan of art created by committee.

6- According to you, what is the criteria that determines your Street Art work modifies the urban space and why is your work considered aesthetically well done?

Aesthetically, to me, it’s finished when nothing about it bothers me and also when I don’t have any ideas that will actually improve it. It’s always easy to make a piece “more” of something. More elaborate, more compositional elements, more figures. That doesn’t necessarily improve the piece. More doesn’t equal better.

7-What is the “historical future” of your work? Should we take care of it, preserve it and repaint it as if it were a museum’s piece of art? Or should it be allowed to age with the city itself?

It is a temporary part of urban life. It will change as does everything. A city that doesn’t change, is boring. No one wants to see the same art for a year or 2 years, it should change make room for the next voice, the next opinion. A city is a living organism.

8- How does your work add value to the urban space in which it is produced?

It’s just a part of that urban space. It is just one aspect of it. Perhaps there is music, business, food and bars, people socializing. This layering of dense experience is what makes urban life different from rural life. Whatever I produce is just a part of that mix.

9- What were the difficulties that you encountered during the completion of your work modifying the urban space?

One Crazy old man started yelling at me and tried to damage this while I was working on it. A small group of people who were watching began arguing with the man. The group said they were enjoying the piece and he should leave it. He was ranting about how awful it was. The people outnumbered him so he eventually just left cursing everyone.

10- Why is urban art important to modify the urban space? What sort of projects are you planning to do in the future ?

Urban art is merely a part of urban culture. All environments consist of a multitude of elements. This art is one of the elements.

Well, the future? I am writing this on April  6, 2020  we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The future has become a troubling word in these times. I plan to celebrate like a mother fucker when this is over and leave the United States as soon as possible. Beyond that, I haven’t made many plans. Stay Safe.

«Ceci n’est pas 1 acte» – Grenoble, France – Summer 2019 – Eddie Colla

        Interview conducted by Art Bill – journalist and owner of de Street Art In Action.

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