Street Art Without Borders: A Man on a Mission

Oniria Mimi, Street Art Without Border - Photography by Urbanhearts

Oniria Mimi, Street Art Without Borders - Photography by Urbanhearts

Eric Marechal knowingly accepted the mission.

The mission was an evolution of 25 years of practicing his art and building trusted relationships with the artist he would come to evangelize. There was a call and he answered it and became the the curator, documentarian, and participant in a major contemporary art movement that was taking place across the world. But the spaces he would curate were not ones confined by walls, pretension or admission fees. They were not the slates of white, funded by corporations and the elite, that we are accustom to seeing art displayed on. They were the spaces that we walk through everyday, often worn with neglect and stained with life. They are walls rich with stories of urban decay, architectural aspiration, product placement and marks of those who have come before.

Tchikioto Vila Madalena, Street Art Without Border - Photography by Urbanhearts

Tchikioto Vila Madalena, Street Art Without Borders - Photography by Urbanhearts

Eric’s mission was not one of comfort, instead he chose the road less traveled. With risk of arrest and scorn, his craft of placement would be his ritual. The paste would be the glue that bonded him with the art and the art with the public. His passion and vision would be the sword that would cut open the street and transform it into a world without limits, without borders and reveal its new potential. The backdrop was life and art would give it context. You no longer came to art, art came to you. The streets were his gallery and the street artists were his artist. Eric Marechal knew the potential of this limitless outdoor museum and in 2008 “Street Art without Borders” was born.

Eric Marechal, aka urbanhearts, photographer and founder of “Street Art Without Borders” has documented over 35,000 photographs of street art for over 20 years. Inspired by their talent and generosity, he began “Street Art without Borders” a project where artists send him original works and in turn he pastes them in different locations throughout the world and document them for perpetuity through the lens of his camera guided by his masterful eye.

Ro, Markuza and G Crackle, Street Art Without Borders, Photography by Urbanhearts

Street Arts without Borders is an amazing project you started in 2008, could you tell me a little bit about its origins?

I have been taking pics of street art for over 20 years and have now more than 35,000 from more than 20 countries…I started with public exhibitions in Mexico, then in Paris, Tokyo and Sao Paulo. I also delivered some conference type with projections of pics in order to promote street art as a major contemporary art movement, too often misrepresented and assimilated with vandalism. Then, from 2005, I started to meet artists and was impressed by the overall generosity and talents form many artists in Brazil and France…in France, I found out that the way artists still cover the walls with their art whilst avoiding the risk of heavy penalties was to paste their art on paper. In 2008, as I was travelling to Japan and Korea, I suggested to some of my friends artists in Paris to paste their work in Korea and Japan. Initially, because I was not aware of the risks involved by pasting in those countries, I did not paste but just set up the art pieces in various environments in order to take pictures only. Then by the end of 2008 as I was travelling to Brazil where I knew pasting would not be a problem, I pasted works from French artists and asked my artists friends in Sao Paulo to do some work on paper. For most of them, it was a totally new support, because, contrary to France, Brazil has a much more liberal approach to street art which results in more street art everywhere in the streets, all being painted directly on the walls. So I came back to Paris with Brazilian street art on paper and pasted those in Paris and soon after in Seoul, Korea. I started then to open a Flickr photostream which allowed me to get in touch with artists around the world and created the idea of “street art without borders”…

Do you have further ambitions for the project, how would you like to see it evolve?

It never stops and it’s a constant search for new talents…the most recent and unusual artists joining the project are from Iran, Finland, Russia! My ambition is to keep on as much as possible so that more talents are exposed to publics who would never have had the chance to discover the variety of talents from all over the world.

You must have had some great experiences working with the talented artist you have photographed over the years, how do think this has this affected you and your and your work?

The contacts with artists are a key part of that experience: knowing their individual story, understanding their background, uncovering their talents and stimulating their creativity for some of them have been a fantastic experience. I am especially proud to have incited some of them to move from their traditional “canvas” paintings to paper displayed in the streets. I know some who have discovered with enthusiasm a new support for their work: newspaper paper! The results are striking. The way it affects me is also by creating a network of great friends who I could meet during my travels. That new friendship is very stimulating and I cherish it a lot. It is for me a privilege to be friend with so much talented artists, and my only frustration is not to be able to meet some of those who are now too far and that I could only meet via internet.

LadySonP, Street Art Without Border - Photography by Urbanhearts

LadySonP, Street Art Without Borders - Photography by Urbanhearts

With the rise of the internet and social media sites like Flickr, how do you feel it will affect the future of art?

I think Flickr and internet is a great way for any individual to get out of their anonymity as well as create a network of friends who share the same passion. It helps them confront their work to the critics of the public at large and it certainly has influence on their own work. Last but not least it gives artists the possibility to sell their work…the life of an artist is nowhere in the world an easy life and most struggle for survival.

What are some of your most memorable moments in pasting works or photographing?

Probably the best souvenirs I get is when I get the immediate positive feedback from bypasses who stop to see what I am pasting and express their admiration for the artist’s work. But the most memorable was in Sao Paulo last October when I was pasting a huge work from a French artist called Ro, 660 meters long, which took me an hour to paste. I had chosen a wall next to some homeless “homes” made of cardboard…they were living in the street, under a big station bridge…they gathered around me whilst I was pasting, intrigued by this big work coming out, piece by piece. At the end, they expressed their pride of having this new decor next to their “home”… Do you have any favorite artists that have had an impact on you? Yes of course I do have my favourites…but as the number of artists I paste is growing (over 130 now), so is my “favourite” list! Anyway, I also have a circle of my best friends in France and Brazil who constantly surprise me by the quality of their new creations.

Having traveled all over the world, do you feel as if there is a common thread that connects the entire artist you have photographed?

There is obviously a worldwide common style in graffiti as well as many artists who do travel and expand their territory of intervention far beyound the borders of their own country. But, more interesting is when you see or meet individuals who you recognize by their unique kind of work. Those are the artists I am more interested in.

Jinsbh & Ishallkill, Street Art Without Border - Photography by Urbanhearts

Jinsbh & Ishallkill, Street Art Without Borders - Photography by Urbanhearts

What would you want people to be saying about you a hundred years from now?

I don’t think anybody would know me in 100 years from now…but if I contributed to reduce the prejudice idea about street art as well as helped some artists to keep their motivation to develop their talents, that would be great. Also, I hope that my photo testimony can be a contribution to keep trace of the most creative and varied contemporary art of our time.

Hwan Soo Santa, Street Art Without Border - Photography by Urbanhearts

Hwan Soo Santa, Street Art Without Borders - Photography by Urbanhearts

Faceart, Street Art Without Borders - Photography by Urbanhearts

Ender, Street Art Without Border - Photography by Urbanhearts

Ender, Street Art Without Borders - Photography by Urbanhearts

Couple, Street Art Without Border - Photography by Urbanhearts

Claire, Street Art Without Borders - Photography by Urbanhearts

Niko Et Sniki, Street Art Without Border - Photography by Urbanhearts

Niko Et Sniki, Street Art Without Borders - Photography by Urbanhearts

Uno, Street Art Without Border - Photography by Urbanhearts

Uno - Photography by Urbanhearts

Find our more information about this project on urbanhearts Flickr Page

Eric is also looking to expand the reach of “Street Art Without Borders”. He is currently seeking sponsorship to come to the Los Angeles area to continue his work. He has also  expressed interested in publishing his works in book format. If you are interested or would like to support Eric, you can contact him or see more of his work at his website http://urbanhearts.typepad.com.


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Comments (4)

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  1. Cindy Durkin says:

    amazing work, I admire urbanhearts dedication

  2. marechal philippe says:

    23 fevrier 2010 congratulations for your articles and for your very interestng pictures!

  3. marechal philippe says:

    23 fevrier 2010 congratulations for your articles and for your very spectaculars pictures!!!

  4. MAR says:

    Eric puts in more work on the street than most street artists. His eye for placement is very refined and he is a master at his craft. As I saw firsthand he is very careful and appreciative of the artists works. He treats them as he would his own, and pastes them accordingly. Street Art Without Borders is a growing and influential movement, and Eric is at its urban heart.

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