"Blogging isn't journalism, it's graffiti with punctuation."

Posts tagged “Amsterdam

Listen to “Spray It, Don’t Say It” – my latest Spoken Word performance

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A couple weeks ago I performed a Spoken Word piece at The Spoke, a live storytelling event here in Toronto, which I blogged about here. The organizers recorded the audio of my piece for their podcast, and you can now listen to it here below! It deals with street art, graffiti, heartbeats, heartbreak, mourning, healing, hope…all the good stuff. Enjoy!

My Soundcloud also has other audio clips from some of my previous Spoken Word performances, so please check it out!

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Don’t forget to check out the official Christine Estima dot com for more on my Spoken Word performances, my published articles, essays, short stories, and more!

 

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Video: Watch me perform @RaconteursTO!

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Recently I performed at Raconteurs, a live storytelling event that happens monthly here in Toronto. I’ve performed at Raconteurs before, and as many of you know, lots of other Spoken Word events around the world like The Moth, Spark London, GRTTWaK, and Pressgang. I feel like these events bridge a nice gap between writing and performance. I don’t like to act much, I prefer to be vulnerable on the page, rather than on the stage, but Spoken Word and Live Storytelling are a nice way to meld the two.

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I told a story about trying to become the Canadian Amélie with a little help from the Bunz Trading Zone. It’s a crazy story of trying to connect with other people — complete strangers, really — and all the foibles and follies therein. You can watch it below! Enjoy!

In this new year, I have lots of things on my plate! So many upcoming publications, performances, and more! I can’t wait to share the news with you. Even though 2016 was a dumpster fire for everyone, I made some huge advances in my career and I’m so pleased with the direction in which everything is going. Small positive steps everyday lead to big things!

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Also, I have a new adventure on the horizon! On Valentine’s Day, I head to Helsingborg, Sweden for the first time! I’ve never been (even though I lived in Europe for years and years), so when a housesitting opportunity arose, so I had to take it. After Sweden, I’ll be swinging through London, Brussels, and Amsterdam to visit my friends (and celebrate my birfday! What a crazy 3 weeks this is going to be….), so if you’re in Helsingborg and want to show this wee Canadian lass around, hit me up!

As always, don’t forget to check out Christine Estima dot CALM (har har) to read all of my published articles, watch my performances, and check out my media coverage.

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Check out my new story in the latest issue of @EVENTMags!

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I’m really excited to share that my non-fiction story, ‘Spray It, Don’t Say It,’ has been published in the latest issue of Event Literary Magazine, that for decades has published the best short prose and poetry in the country. I have been trying to crack into Event for 10 years (they are notoriously selective!), so I was delighted when they snatched this up with such kind words for my voice and style.  The piece is about my time as a waif on the streets of Europe, and specifically deals with this, where I blogged only peripherally about it at the time, so this story is the full story. Here’s a scan of the first page to pique your interest:

 

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And here’s my EVENT bio. Awww yeeeeeeah, dis mah shit. This is only a slice of my publications, my full list of publications can be found here

 

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You can pick up Event at any bookshop in the country. As always, don’t forget to check out the official ChristineEstima dot com for more of my writing, performances, and recent news!

 

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My Writing Space

I once blogged about my writing practice and process, and I feel this is a nice dovetail: my writing desk and space. We all need to carve out our own little nooks in this world, and this tiny corner is mine.


This where I do all my writing: all my short stories, all my blogging, and all my freelance articles are done here, including a little doodling and reading now and then. I decorated it like this because I think it reflects me and my personality best. Some people prefer really modern, sleek, office-y, stainless-steel-type designs, and others prefer a kind of non-descript, antiseptic look. But I wanted my space to be peppered with all of the things that inspired me, visually and spatially, and all the things that really mean something to me.


For example, these are my Lebanese grandparents making-out on their front porch in Montreal circa 1948. I typed out that Bukowski quote on my typewriter. All the picture frames were bought from London flea markets, but a few I found discarded on the sidewalk. Who throws out gorgeous picture frames?!


That photograph in the foreground of the two 1920s women pushing the pram: I have no idea who they are. I found them discarded on the flea market grounds in Brussels right before the sky opened up and an incredible tempest washed everything away. I feel like I saved them.


Those are Belgian telegrams, and also some French postcards ad German letters, which I bought from their respective flea markets. I typed out the quote at the bottom, and I found the image of the typewritten quote at the top online and then printed it out on photographic paper at a pharmacy in London.


I got the antique iron keys from a friend who bought them for me when I was living in Copenhagen. I typed out the Dumas quote, and it sits on a small blue photo album from the 1940s that I bought in Paris. The vase & saucer I got at a London flea market, and the typewriter ribbon tin I bought at the Brooklyn flea.


The pill bottles in the foreground I got at a flea here in Toronto. The red-cover books in the background are all travel guidebooks from the 1920s, 30s, & 40s. It’s so interesting to read about “where to find a public bathhouse in London,” or about how many Francs you can get for your Crowns, Half-Crowns, Shillings, and Sovereigns. There’s even a section on why French customs strictly prohibits British matches from entering the country, but you can bring your own cigarettes. Also, air travel was so new, that they don’t really mention it. They only mention taking the ferry from Dover to Calais! The guidebooks have fold-out maps and even photographs. Looking at Amsterdam then and comparing it to now is such a mind-fuck.


That’s a Bukowski quote.


I bought that cigar box from a flea market in Düsseldorf. I put all of the small monochrome photographs that I bought from flea markets around Europe in there. A note about the photographs: I don’t know the people. I am assuming they’ve all passed, seeing as how their personal family photo albums were for sale on flea markets. I buy them because they look so happy. I like their faces. Also, sometimes going through private photos reveals some interesting secrets, as I wrote in an essay for VICE recently … And if they’re not in the cigar box….


… they’re hanging on my wall. From left to right, I bought him in Brussels, him in Copenhagen, and her in Paris.


That babe second-from-right is my Mum when she was 18. The rest, left to right, Brussels, Brussels, Berlin, and the child on the right is from Amsterdam.


These ladies are so old, they’re beginning to fade, but I love them all the more because they’re so bad-ass. On the left, I bought them in Paris and on the back it’s dated June 18, 1929. On the right, I bough her in Brussels, it’s dated August 18, 1922. She’s so fucking cool, I can’t even. I’m all out of evens.


Bought both from Brussels. Street scenes and street photography from the early 20th century are so amazing to me. I love the composition of the left photo! Right photo on the back is dated May 1942 and it says they just returned from shopping.


There’s my gorgeous bee-yooot. Read this for the story behind the provenance of this baby.


Some of the books that really moved me that are resting on my desk are All That I Am by Anna Funder, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert, and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières.


I feel like I become a different person when I sit down at this desk. Outside, I’m gregarious and silly and hungry and moving and yelling and dancing and what not… but here, I am something else.


I have a lot more upcoming publications yet-to-be-announced, but now you know where I was when I wrote them.

Remember to update your links and visit the new home of ChristineEstima.com!
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NYC gets #IcyandSot

I first photographed Icy and Sot in Amsterdam, both on the street at at one of their gallery shows. They’ve become street art darlings since then, with major turns at Norway’s NuArt fest in Stavanger, and also, it seems, New York City. I literally couldn’t walk through a single borough without running into their work. Most of these were in conjunction with the Bushwick Collective, but also, they were part of the Welling Court Project. Even still, some of it just seemed to be good, ol’ fashioned illegal graff. Good on ’em.

This delightful mural in South Williamsburg just went on and on….

… and on….

This massive, colourful explosion in Bushwick seems to depict suicide bombers in Iraq, but it could also be the way protesters are gunned down in Gaza. Or perhaps it’s Tel Aviv. Syria? Tahrir Square? I’m not really sure, but then again, the goal isn’t to precisely identify what the artist is trying to say. The point is to make it mean something to you.

I love how his arm reaches up and hangs off of the barbed wire on the roof.

Apologies for not getting a close-up of his hand. I should point out that I took these photographs the first week of January when it was about -20 degrees and removing my hands from my mitts to take photos was a race against frost bite. I could only take maybe two or three pictures before my hands would sting and splinter and redden and become numb. Graff hunting in winter is so much different than in summer. Le sigh.

Their famous portrait here in blue was a massive mural up in Queens, as part of the Welling Court project.

I love this cop and his shadow mural off of Meserole in Bushwick. It must have been erected during the Black Lives Matter protests, as it seems to be a direct comment on Police Brutality, and appearance vs reality when it comes to New York cops.

Freaky.

 

You know what’s funny of this walking boy of theirs? If you go on Instagram, everyone thinks this is Banksy.

No, beebees, just, no.

Dream big!

I will do anything you tellllll meeeee toooooooooo.


2014: The Year That Taught Me Exactly What I’m Made Of

I don’t know how to start this entry so I’ll just launch right into the heart of it:

I spent most of this year homeless, broke and starving on the streets of Europe.

And I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Most of you read this blog soley for all the amazing street art that I find (as you should, I have found some incredible and moving stuff!), and I don’t really talk about myself on this blog anymore. I’ve barely posted any photographs of me on here this year, so let’s change that right now before I launch into it all…

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Ahhh, that’s better.

So here’s the skinny

I will try not to ramble on for brevity’s sake and because everyone has ADD, but perhaps you might take 5 mins to read this, as this post, like most of my posts, will be mostly photographs anyway.

I started off the year in London. It was rough from the beginning. I was freelancing a lot to pay my bills, but money was still tight tight tight! My friends kept insisting on paying for me just because they wanted me to come out and see them, but I felt pretty shitty about having my friends pay for me. I mean, they offered, but what kind of woman does that make me? Always relying on the generosity of friends? I refused the majority of the time.

Still I managed to have some wonderful early experiences in London, like being invited to speak THREE TIMES at Spark London, which is a live-storytelling event.

This below video is from my first and most popular story. It has almost 6,000 views on YouTube, I guess it resonated with people.

Also, as many of you remember, I was cast in Channel 4’s documentary series, First Dates. My episode, the premiere episode of the season, had millions of viewers and broke the internet. Here’s the trailer and some screencaps from my small screen glory:




But life in London was still giving me headaches. I won’t go into too much detail on this point, but I was being sexually harassed by someone who had stolen all of my contact details and had been to my house. I had to call the police just to get him to stop. I couldn’t even get him arrested, I could only get them to force him to stop. It was truly frightening to be the victim of something like this that was completely out of my hands. I didn’t know this person at all, and to have my details stolen like that and used for such nefarious purposes really shocked my system. I didn’t leave my flat for a week because I was petrified to walk outside and find him there. Bless the London Police, they were so kind and understanding and helpful and full of useful information.

But the money issue started to grate on me. London is too expensive for a freelancer like me, and when my uptight and awkward landlady (who would burst into my room when I was sleeping naked and demand I get her a paracetamol because she was sick… or would bore me to tears by yammering on about her ridiculous love life like it was any of my business) decided to raise the rent on me for no good reason, I decided enough was enough. London clearly doesn’t want me here, so fuck it, I’m leaving for something better.

Homeless

I consciously chose to be homeless. I stuffed everything I owned in the world into my backpack, and set off for mainland Europe. I didn’t have the money to pay rent, so I decided I just wouldn’t pay rent. I would get by with Couchsurfing and Housesitting. And those housesitting gigs would last for months, so I would get to stay in these cosmopolitan European capitals for free; places like Copenhagen, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels (and a smattering of smaller rural towns).

But it wasn’t easy. I was so broke that I was living off of €40 a week. A WEEK. That’s how much most people spend in one meal, and that is what I was LIVING off of for a week. There were some really lean moments where I was like, “Should I put the peanuts in the yoghurt, or have the peanuts as a side-dish?” For  example, the entire month that I lived in Paris, I only spent €150 in total, and that’s being generous. I couldn’t afford to take the trains anymore between cities, so I started hitchhiking… which any woman will tell you is, well, interesting. (The one time that I posted on Facebook about my hitchhiking, a friend that I haven’t seen in about 15 years since high school transferred money into my PayPal and wouldn’t take no for an answer. She was like, “TAKE IT AND GET ON A TRAIN DAMMIT” and I was moved to tears. People can be so kind). I’m ashamed to admit that I did a bit of dumpster-diving when I needed to. But the worst it ever got was when I was attacked in Brussels and in Paris. In Brussels, this guy smacked me right across the face in broad daylight. On the Paris Metro, I walked away with a huge welt on my thigh that lasted a month, and the tissue there is still sore, if I’m being honest.

Life as a waif isn’t all romantic and adventure. Sometimes it is pure depravity and despair.

But, for as bad as it was sometimes, I felt like going through all of this was good for me. Like I really needed it. The whole point is to go through a river of shit. The whole point is to crawl up a long ladder on your knees. That’s the whole point. Because it taught me exactly what I’m made of. I am resilient when the shit hits the fan. I am resourceful and crafty, sometimes hustler-charlatan, and sometimes the lucky beneficiary of the kindness of strangers. I never gave up. Going through the worst time of my life, oddly, was the best thing for me. I truly feel like the worst year of my life was also the best year of my life. I am so grateful this happened to me.

So how did I end up back in Toronto?

I was making some money freelancing, so I wasn’t completely in the shitter. I was even translated into Swiss-German when I sold a couple of articles to AufBau Magazine (and they paid me in SWISS FRANCS too! When you exchange that into Canadian dollars, it was more than double. I was like PIZZA FOR EVERYBODY!). But I couldn’t afford the planet ticket home. Then, the Polish Ministry of Economy who sent me on my #Polska14 adventure that you can read about here, paid for my transatlantic flight home. Without that, I would still be a wandering European nomad with no fixed address. So thanks, Poland!

Finding Meaning

Along this strange 12 month journey that was 2014, there were a lot of poignant and unique moments that will never come again. I was in Copenhagen during the Eurovision Song Contest, I was in Berlin when Germany won the World Cup, I was in Paris during the 70th anniversary celebrations of the liberation of Paris, I was in Amsterdam for their Remembrance Day, and I was in Brussels during Nuit Blanche.

I think one of my favourite moments of the entire year was in Amsterdam when my friend Laser 3.14 dedicated some street art to me.

But my favourite thing to do in all of these places (other than photograph street art, of course) was to visit the flea markets every weekend. Because I had no space in my backpack to actually buy anything of substance, the only thing I could buy on the flea markets were old love letters and monochrome photographs from 1900-1940s. The only spot I could keep them was in the space between my iPad and its case, because it was the only spot to keep them flat and safe. After a while, that little slot was bulging.

Here are some examples of what I managed to procure:

Most days I would spend all the money I had saved for eating on these photographs. I usually only ate 2 small meals a day anyway, and would load up on coffee during the day to suppress my appetite.







The small moments I never blogged…


Dancing with friends in London! Everybody in this photograph looks cool except for me. I need to increase my cool-game.

Celebrating World Cup in Berlin with friends! Aw Eric, tu me manques!

Enjoying the view of Berlin from the Klunkerkranich with my two favourite Germans!

Acrobatic performers at the Boxhagenerplatz flohmarkt in Berlin!

This photograph and street-art-hunt made it to the front page of WordPress!

In London, I was cast in a movie, and the costume/hair/makeup would take an hour every day. I was playing a 16th century Spanish lady in King Phillip’s court. My hair was teased, pinned, curled, and yanked within an inch of my life. That hat had to be SEWN INTO MY HEAD to keep it in place. And the corset & neck piece dug into my skin and took out huge chunks of flesh.

This is what my hair looked like after all the pieces were taken out of it.


Hanging out inside an 800-year-old tree in Copenhagen.


Overlooking Copenhagen!

At the Jewish Memorial in Berlin, which is a re-staging of a photograph I took of myself 8 years ago

Berlin olympic stadium … fuck yeah jesse owens.


Sachsenhausen….

Fireworks soar above the Brandenburg Gate the night that Germany won the World Cup

A massive drumming/capoeira parade in Paris that I just happened to stumble upon. They basically shut down Boulevard Saint-Denis!

Click on the volume button to hear! I made this and many other Vines, btw.

My last night in Paris, I cycled to L’Arc de Triomphe and just sat there, watching the city run circles around it.

Nuit Blanche in Brussels was a rainy, glorious night I will never forget. I love Brussels so much!



Overlooking the small medieval-walled village of Regensburg in the south of Germany.

Leaving Berlin, and for the last time too…

Dancing with the gang in Dalston… as all the hipsters do.

This was my housesit in Paris; a two-bedroom flat all to myself. Yes, I am a huge asshole.


And this was my housesit in Amsterdam. Being homeless isn’t all that bad.


Somedays I would wake up in my housesit and just be so happy!


Although, when I was Couchsurfing, some days I would wake up looking like this. Ugh. Don’t fuck with a recently-awoken woman!

Snugglecat in Brussels loves his kisses!


I saw Nils Frahm live in concert four times this year (for a total of 5 if you include last year).  Luckily he performed free concerts, so my broke-ass could still get a little culture. I saw him twice in Copenhagen….


…once in Berlin

…and then in Toronto!

Favourite 2014 Street Art Hunts


I found some amazing works this year, so it’s hard to pick the BEST, as everyone is a winner, but here are some highlights!
#1 Space Invader does Star Wars in London!

#2 Accidentally finding a Banksy in Copenhagen!

#3  El Bocho in Berlin, baby!

#4 Icy and Sot on the streets of Amsterdam!

#5 Finding 183 Space Invaders in one month in Paris!

#6 Jimmy C’s Ziggy Stardust mural in Brixton!

#7 Pablo Delgado in Dulwich!

#8 JR’s “wrinkles of the city” in Berlin!

#9 Roa in Dulwich!

#10 Phlegm in Dulwich!


Here are my greatest street-art hits from Instagram! What a year it’s been!

Favourite 2014 Albums

#1 Spaces by my beloved Nils. Although it came out in late 2013, it really picked up steam in 2014 so that’s why it’s included here. I would walk around my neighbourhood in South London (Crystal Palace) and would listen to Spaces as I wandered up and down the hills, and it kept me sane. Lend an ear to song “Says,” it will be the best 8 minutes of your life, I promise.

#2 Are We There by Sharon Van Etten. I would wander around Kreuzberg and Neükoln in Berlin, along the canal, sit on Admiralbrücke, drink a cola from the Späti, and listen to “Our Love” or “I Know” off this album and feel like someone else understood me finally.

Favourite 2014 Singles

#1 Enemies by Hannah Georgas. The song is simply gorgeous, but it was the music video for it that left me breathless. There’s something about that man’s face. I think it was his eyes. He broke my heart.

#2 Habits by Tove Lo. I know this song was pretty overplayed by the end of the year, but when it first came out, I would walk around Berlin during those hot summer nights when it’s still light out at 9pm, photograph street art, listen to this, and sing when I was sure no one was listening.

Favourite 2014 Films

#1 Grand Budapest Hotel, obviously! I saw this in London with Robin and we couldn’t stop talking about how great it was for hours afterward.

#2 Boyhood. I saw this in Berlin with David and he fell asleep during it, so it could have used a tighter edit (3 hours is too long, guys!) but it was still a tour-de-force.

Speaking of men…




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I was never lonely this year, let’s put it  that way.
Also… OMG BEARDS. EVERY MAN I KNOW HAS A SWEET, SWEET BEARD.

When it comes to the end…

Like I have for the past three years, I will be spending New Years in a country other than my own (2012 in Germany, 2013 in London, and now 2014 in….)

New York City!!


I’ll be housesitting (obvi) for a month (until the end of January) in the Upper West Side. Another place to live rent-free, another amazing city. I haven’t been in NYC since 2012 so it will be great to rediscover all my favourite places (Bushwick here I come!!) and also discover places I never knew before (I’m coming for you, Adele Bloch-Bauer).

NYC, like all the other cities I have lived in this year, is one of those places where you’re never bored. And if you are, you are doing it wrong.

So I’d like to end 2014 on a similar note:

“I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say.
I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing.
So you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.”

-Louis C.K.

2014 was never boring. May that continue in 2015.
See ya in NEW YORK CITY!!!


#SpaceInvader in Amsterdam and Brussels

I had previously photographed what I thought were genuine Invaders in Amsterdam, but it turns out there is an Invader-imposter! I realized they were fake when I tried to flash them on the Flash Invaders app, and then some graff-friends confirmed they were bogus. So it took a lot of digging and searching, but I managed to find some of the few genuine ‘Vaders still poking about my beloved ‘Dam.

You know what really bothers me about this? I’ve been to Amsterdam six times now, and all of these ‘Vaders, I must have walked obliviously past them a gazillion times, they’re all on streets I frequent a lot. Normally I have a very keen eye for these types of things. How did I miss them?!

For example, this one was across from the English Bookshop that I go to often.

I must have sauntered past this one a bazillion times. It’s down below and on a pillar that doesn’t face the sidewalk, it’s on the edge of the street, so I probably missed it because had I walked on the street-side, I would have gotten hit by a car. I’ll let myself off the hook for this one.


This one was hard to get, it was on the other side of a bridge. I had to hang my camera-hand over the railing just to get the shot. Those are my knobby-knees in the background.

This was on the Blauwbrug, a bridge I have crossed a bazillion times. How could I have been so blind? DAMMIT ESTIMA.

 

Now onto Brussels. Seeing as how I lived in Brussels last year, I had already found so many ‘Vaders, but I didn’t realize how many I had missed! And what’s worse, a lot of the ‘Vaders I photographed last year were audaciously taken down, so I couldn’t flash them on the app! SACRILEGE! But at least there are still some gems to be found in my beautiful, belle Bruxelles. Behold!


I think this one is my favourite. It’s down below, it’s unblemished, it’s colourful, and I just love it.


It wraps!


I don’t have a smartphone, but this ‘Vader is actually a QR code that when scanned on your smartphone, reveals the locations of all the Brussels ‘Vaders. There once was 40. Now there’s only 24 left.


Again, must have walked by this one a bajillion times before I found it. FOR SHAME!


Last year I photographed many peeing ‘Vaders (Brussels has a thing about statues peeing… it’s a whole piss-thing). But I didn’t know about this one, it’s down a dead-end alley next to another one of Brussels’ pissing-commemorations… I mean, jeez.


A million times…


… and I never saw it.


I love this photograph.


The colours of the Belgian flag 🙂


This one has haunted me. I was in a car last year, someone else behind the wheel, and we sped past this one, and I tried to make a mental note of where it was, but I never found it again… until now.


And last but not least…


Yes you do.

Check out my Space Invader category for more of his work that I’ve photographed all around the world!


#IcyAndSot do some major Amsterdammage


Thanks to the good-ol’ street art blogs, I found out while I was in Amsterdam that Persian street artists Icy and Sot were having an opening of their work near Het Spui whilst I was there. So of course I made sure to check out the show, and during my unDutchable excursions, found a whole bunch of their stencils and works across the city.


A window-dressage at Het Spui around the corner from their opening.


This gorgeous piece was right next door to the gallery.


And now, to the vernissage! The works for sale were mostly the same ones on the street.

It was really great to find their work on the back streets and narrow alleys of the city before the show. When work is on the city walls, it’s ephemeral and democratic and free for all to enjoy. At the shows, the exact same works are removed from their site-specific power and transferred to canvas, hung on taupe walls. I fully support artists putting on shows (artists need to make money just like the rest of us), I guess I just prefer the wild nature of liveable street art. In French the term “sauvage” is apropos here, and that’s the quality that really speaks to me. I guess I’m just not sure what happens to street art when it’s not on the street. What is it then?


That being said, if I had the funds, I probably would have bought the entire gallery.


Also, there was food, and I hadn’t eaten all day.
Oh don’t give me that look.


#Laser314: Her Brows Were All It Took


As many of you know, I’ve been photographing Laser 3.14‘s street art for well over a year now. I’ve blogged his work so much, that him and I have become friendly. Friendly enough that he even gave me the nickname “Brows” because of my infamous eyebrows (they really are the only reason people like me, let’s be honest). Every time I’m in Amsterdam, he let’s me know the locations of some of his latest works so I can go on a graff-hunt. Anyway, since I had recently been in-and-around the ‘dam for 3 weeks, he sent me on a hunt, and the above piece in question was found on the Vijzelgracht near the Weteringsplein.

I am forever humbled and obliged.

Here are some of his newest works to be found on the streets of my beloved Amsterdam.


The future is already haunting us


Children of the electric funk


Promises of heaven
Giving us hell


I peel off my skin
So I can reach the inner me


The drapes are drawn
Our bodies entangled
Intertwined
(This one is my favourite, obvi)


My favourite thing about this photograph is the shadow of the guy next to me who took a swig from his liquor bottle right as I snapped this photograph, and the shadow of him falls upon Laser’s work, giving it a level of potency, methinks.


Welcome to (my life). This was number 1.


This was number 2.


Versace never reassured me.
This was particularly potent because the street it was on had some pretty upmarket high street shops like Gucci and Ermenegildo Zegna.


The certainty of uncertainty

(this to me is like the flip side of the ol’ Death and Taxes saying)


It’s clear
It’s lucid
Just fine


Heed
the Vortex
Of bloodshed
And violence


Yours too? What are the odds!


She explodes
golden arches
Everywhere


She controls the knob
Or as I like to think of this one, “She stoops to conquer.” Har har.
Laser told me this one is actually around 3 or 4 years old, so we’re both shocked it’s still kicking around!

Check out my Laser 3.14 category so you can see all of his pieces that I’ve photographed in Amsterdam. And the next time you’re in the ‘dam, make sure you check out his work!


This is a self-portrait of intense love and bitter tragedy


Laser 3.14’s graffiti-poetry hits Amsterdam again

Sorry for not blogging for almost 3 weeks! It’s been crazy around here. I went from Berlin, to Regensburg, to Amsterdam, and now I’m in Paris, where I will be situated for the next little while … ah, the life of resourceful nomad. Expect more photojaculations about all of these adventures!

Anyway, you, my little munchkins, might remember the last few times I have blogged about Laser 3.14, the graff-poet of Amsterdam. Well, I let him know that I would be in Amsterdam for a week, and he sent me all the locations of his most recent bombings. The work, as always, is thrilling and moving. Dude speaks exactly what is on my mind and in my heart, and he has recently had a few gallery exhibitions and openings that have been met with lots of press and accolades. Dude is going places.

This one I found on my own. Someone had wrapped up the tarp & knotted it through itself (see the hole right before the 3?). I had to unravel it just to photograph it. Almost get yelled at the home owner. Totally worth it.


Found this one also by mistake. It’s part of an older batch, hence its poor state. It says “blind idealism destroys reason.”


Found this by accident. It’s one of my favourites.


Another from his older series. “Don’t just murmur your insanity.”


Again, an older one that I just stumbled upon. It says “Travis the streets are swept.” You’ll see in some of these pieces I’m about to blog that he likes to use the names of his friends in his tags….


“Oh you’ll know when it’s too late.”
When I found this one in the pouring rain, that red bike was blocking the piece. I had to pick that fucking tank up and move it out of the way. It was obvious that bike hadn’t been moved in some time because of the cobwebs on it. I’ve seen some pics lately of others photographing this piece and the bike is where I left it.
YOU’RE ALL WELCOME!!!!


“This panorama is for you.”
What a panorama…. cough.


“Mind control is everything, everything is mind control…” upside down.
NEAR…


FAR!


“Things don’t work that way Timmy.”
Remember what I said about the names?


“Nobody believes the media… except when it’s in their own interest.”


“Reap the tame heart, and all.”
NEAR…


FAR!


This was on the other side of the previous one! Two tags on one corner= my idea of christmas.


As I’ve noted in past blogs, Laser 3.14 almost exclusively only tags construction boards and tarps. My guess is that he does it so that no one’s property is damaged by his tags. Those tarps and construction boards are only up temporarily. Also, they seem to provide an awfully potent frame for his poetry. The boards act like excellent frames, and the tarps give his words a kind of ethereal beauty. Lately I find myself extremely disappointed when I pass a construction site and cannot find his work.


FUCK YEAH.


And this one was on the other side of the previous. It’s like a poetry corner!


“Wrong underdog, try the one next door.”


Again with the friends’ names 🙂


This has to be some inside joke, I don’t get it. Who’s egg man?


This one is my absolute favourite and really speaks to me. “Too much love for after the fact.”


Yes, yes, GOOD GAWD YES.


BACK OFF, GET YOUR OWN IDEALS!


So nice, he tagged it twice.


“The Goggle age questions your ideals.”

As you’ve seen from this huge haul of his work, Laser 3.14 is interested in online privacy, the theatre of the media, capitalist ideals, the state of Europe, personal agency, and of course, as always, matters of the heart. This is what good street art is, people. TAKE NOTES.

Check out my Laser 3.14 category for more of his work that I’ve photographed.


The Best Life

I’ve been on the road for three weeks now, and I’m so glad I decided to throw off the shackles of suspended animation and stationary living that were cutting into my skin (In short, paying rent is for suckers). I’ve been a backpacker for nine years now, and even though I have been to so many places, and learned a lot, I always seem to discover new places and learn new things. So far all the cities on this journey are places I have been to/lived in before (Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and soon Berlin), but it’s hard to be bored in these cities. I’ve forsaken flying, and have been taking the delightful European trains like a civilized person. I’ve been Couchsurfing and house-sitting, which has allowed me to make new friends, snuggle with some snuggle-pets, and take the time to really explore without feeling rushed. My days consist of drinking sweet lattes, writing in my journal while sneaking glances at the pretty bearded hipster dudebro behind the counter, walking around a European metropolis in the sunshine, taking photographs of provocative street art and urban art, indulging in Pain au Chocolat’s without a trace of guilt, going to flea markets, spending hours at enthralling museums, rocking out to Nils Frahm, and partaking in SO MUCH EUROVISION (I had no idea when I came to Copenhagen that I’d be here at the same time as the Eurovision Song Contest, but boy has it been fun! Go Conchita go).

A friend of mine recently sent me this message:

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I am forced to agree.

Here are some highlights and urban art from my travels this past month.

Brussels


In Brussels, of course my first stop was the Jeu de Balle flea market to spend hours upon hours rummaging through boxes to find some love letters. Remember this? Anyway, I found 10 love letters written between a husband and wife from 1956-8 in Brussels. He was a military doctor and so he was stationed away from home quite often. Look at that lipstick kiss in the letter! They totally got it bad for each other. I also found a letter written during WWII (it’s undated but I’m guessing from the letters’ contents that it’s from about 1944) written between cousins about how “les sales boches” (aka The Nazis) have invaded Belgium and the family misses their homeland. They are in exile in an area of France that was not occupied by the Nazis and 12 family members are living in a small flat. The cousin writes to the other cousin, begging him to join her, saying, “we will make space on the mattress for you.”

I love you, Jeu de Balle.


Jef Aerosol has an ongoing exhibit just around the corner from Jeu de Balle.

Amsterdam


Of course no trip to Amsterdam is complete without going hunting for a few Laser 314‘s 🙂


I also spent a great deal of time at Amsterdam’s Resistance Museum, and then following a map to all of the important locations in the city during the Nazi occupation, including where Jews had to buy their Star of David armbands, the theatre converted for mass deportations, the Carlton hotel that a war plane smashed into, the bombs that dropped on a home on the Herengracht, the air-raid shelters, and more. Highly recommended if you’re into WWII history like me


This is Laser’s nod to 1984.

 

Copenhagen


When you take the train from Hamburg to Copenhagen, the train (which is only 4 small carriages) goes ONTO THE FERRY. No one ever believes me when I tell them this.


SELFIE.


Ah, Copenhagen. I was last here in 2006 (read my post from that time here, and this post has all my photographs from back then). If I’m being honest, my memory of my time here in 2006 is rather hazy, so I’m glad I’m spending a good chunk of time here.


This is wonderful. An underwater sculpture in one of the canals.


The boats have to be careful, otherwise their propellers will be destroyed.


Kirekegaard’s grave!


Hans Christian Andersen’s grave!


I swear, Copenhagen is filled with so much antiquity, and so few people, that sometimes, you can walk down a street, preserved in detail for 200 years, and wonder if you’ve stepped through time, without the presence of cars and technology to distract you.

I’m still in Copenhagen, so this section is a work in progress. More photographs to come! I have SO MUCH STREET ART TO SHARE!

Stay glued.

 


Ghost signs in #London and #Amsterdam

Ghost signs (if you don’t know the term) are my current fascination. I can best explain them as such: 100 years ago, instead of billboards, advertisers would literally paint their signs and adverts to the walls of buildings. In many places, those old painted signs, although faded, are still visible. Places like London and Amsterdam are fantastic for ghost-sign-hunting, because there are so many pre-war buildings sporting ’em. I like the calligraphy and fonts, I  like the designs, I like the old-timey, antiquated feel of them. It’s the quickest form of time-travel, really. Here is a selection of ghost signs that I’ve been fortunate enough to find. I will endeavour to find more!


This one is my favourite, so let’s start with it! I found it halfway between Herne Hill and Brixton in London.


I find it highly ironic that this is an antique sign advertising antiques! THAT’S SO META. Can you IMAGINE what antiques you could have found 100 years ago? Stuff from the 18th and 17th century, surely.


You’ll notice that the bottom of the sign is cut off mid-sentence. According to the internet, it used to say “bought, sold, or TAKEN IN EXCHANGE.”


This old Bovril ghost sign is quite popular in Brixton, and I’ve been passing by it for years, without bothering to photograph it. Have you ever tasted Bovril? It tastes like battery acid. EAT UP!


This Dean & Co Chemist’s sign was hard to photograph, as it’s situated high up and is almost blocked by the adjacent building. There’s no chemist there now, just a hair salon. This was opposite Clapham Common.


Here’s another favourite of mine that is really faded, but it’s SO OLD-TIMEY COOL! It says, “For your throat’s sake, SMOKE the world’s premier cork**** cigarette.” I can’t make out if it says corklined, or corktrimmed, or corktarred, or something along those lines, it’s so faded.


This is an excellent reminder of advertising standards 100 years ago, where Doctors would tell you that smoking was actually good for you. And advertisers would lie and say it made you healthy, and shit. AMAZING FIND.


I found this near Stockwell tube stop.


Now to Amsterdam, with a cool Albert Heijn paint job. As I mentioned before, Albert Heijn is a supermarket chain in The Netherlands, and apparently, has been around for a long time!


There was no Albert Heijn shop in this building, just a Japanese resto and a sewing machine shop. This was in the De Pijp area.


Across the street from it was this amazing faded sign that says “Salon Voor Scheeren” which indicates a barbershop once was housed there. Not anymore, it’s just homes. LOOK AT THE FINGER-HAND! So cool.


There’s no way to know what this ghost sign above a billiards place used to say. It looks like two signs were painted over each other, and now over time, they’re fading into each other. But I like the calligraphy.


I have already found more ghost signs around that I have yet to photograph, so expect more soon!


Amsterdam, the lights, the Delft, and Girl With A Pearl Earring


From Foam Gallery’s William Klein exhibit.


The luxurious flat that was my home for two weeks in Amsterdam.


Birfday selfie.


It looks like it’s the Bible… but . . .


. . . when you open it up, it has pictures of the Holocaust on the pages. This is from the Gallery Huis Marseille.


The Delft


An image thematically used in Girl With A Pearl Earring


Speak of the devil!


She’s everywhere in the Delft.


I helped these little guys cross the road and back into the canal. I felt pretty good about that. They were so quacky.


The size of a tree. Delft-oddity.


Embedded in the cobblestones…


… is the earth.


When it comes to bicycles, the Dutch mean business.


Graffiti and street art on the streets of #Amsterdam

Here are some of the gems that I found whilst cycling around Amsterdam for two weeks. Some of these artists I know, some I don’t, but it’s all really great work!

Once again, I have to reiterate that there is so much of your city to discover if you just keep your eyes open. Cultural activities don’t require tickets. All you need is a keen sense of direction, a bike or a walking shoes, a camera, and a curious nature. Art is free! It’s on your walls! Go discover it!


Someone blighted her face. FOR SHAME.


Is that an Ewok? YUB-NUB!


A day without laughter is a day wasted…. I dunno, sometimes a cry feels pretty good.


I don’t know “Karma” but I like that idea.


Boxhead is quite literal.


Why, it’s KID ACNE! I’ve blogged his work before in London! He’s very YAY!


See her?


See her? DO YA?


Don’t mess with her, she’s bad to the bone.


Great job Kid Acne!


Tyler the Creator is terrifying.


Haha, there’s a Dutch joke in here. “Albert Heijn” (pronounced HINE) is the name of a supermarket in The Netherlands. So, here they have Albert Heijnstein! WOCKA WOCKA WOCKA. They even changed E=mc(squared) to E=ON(squared)… the “ON” is the logo for the Albert Heijn “on the go” basic shops.


It’s FAILE! I haven’t seen Faile’s work since Brooklyn! No idea she (he?) had been over here. Ok, I don’t know if Faile is male or female… that rhymes.


This image is really pretty.


Even prettier when you take into the account the gorgeous building it’s on.


Sexist graffiti. Not a fan. I don’t enjoy this. NEXT.


YES. That’s better.


See it?


Because it’s torn, there’s no way to know if it said “should” or “could.” I think both are apropos.


Bust?


MAC?


I’m on the fence about this one.


I saw a lot of Fabrice’s work in Amsterdam, and I chose not to photograph it all because it seemed to be commissioned. I’m more of a fan of spontaneous art, rather than state-sanctioned art, but that doesn’t mean it’s not pretty and well-done.


WOOF!


Erm….


Uh…


Hey look it’s Albert Heijnstein! He’s even wearing a jersey and carrying a bag with the supermarket’s logo on it.


Somewhat decent.


This kid is the supermarket superhero, apparently.


We will meet in the present tense


Found this near Nieuwe Prinsengracht in Amsterdam.


C215, Space Invader, and Curtis Kulig in #Amsterdam!


First, my beloved C215. I found all of these just by cycling around Amsterdam and keeping my eyes open. Always remember to keep your heads up, munchkins! There is so much wonderful art in your city and you’re missing it!


Now some Space Invader! So technically, I photographed this piece last year, but it was a crappy shot with my iPad, so I found it again and photographed it properly. I was shocked how I found it again, this is literally buried within a series of winding and interlocking streets in a community-housing project. I wasn’t looking to find it again, I just stumbled upon it, and was like NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY!


See it?


This was on Overtoom. I was lucky to spot this, because I was bombing north on my bike, going really fast and not paying attention to walls, I just happened to look up. ALWAYS LOOK UP!


This Invader looks like he’s wearing a mask!


I think this was on Bloemenstraat near the Prisengracht.


Finally some Curtis Kulig. YES CURTIS, I SWEAR I LOVE YOUUUUUUUU.


Curtis AND an A.S.V.P.! Lucky day!

 


#Amsterdam’s word on the street

The Dutch love erecting sayings and quotes on their buildings … bless ’em.

Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and I remember more than I have seen.


TELL ME ABOUT IT.


Men under the guidance of reason desire nothing for themselves which they do not also desire for the rest of mankind.


This was on the wall at Café Brecht, which makes sense, as this is a Brechtian quote. It translates (roughly) in English to, “Because things are the way they are, they will not stay the way they are.” I found this wall last year, when I titled this post.


Haha! So true.


Aw. Bless.


Ok so this wasn’t in Amsterdam, it was in the Delft. I found it when I took a daytrip there to visit the birthplace of Johannes Vermeer.


This was on an abandoned, boarded-up building.


It’s Emily Dickinson.
To make a prairie,
it takes a clover
and one bee.
One clover,
and a bee,
and revery.
The revery alone
will do
if the bees are few.”


Vintage #Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a magical city. Modern and inviting, yet also capable of transporting you into time lost to the ages.


First of all: TYPEWRITER PORNOGRAPHY!


They wouldn’t let me touch it. I WAS DYING TO TOUCH IT.


It even had that old-book smell. They really should bottle that smell and market it to people who are secretly old ladies . . . like me.


GORGEOUS.OVERLOAD.I.CAN’T.EVEN.


I want to put this one on a chain and hang it around my neck.


FONT-SPLOSION! Look at that gorgeous typeface.


This Smith-Premiere was so badly damaged, I think some of the keys had capsized. Also, someone dust that thing, for the love of Gawd!


Speaking of old-book smell…


I found these at the Boekenmarkt that is held once a week near Het Spui in Amsterdam.


Haha, oh the funny things people used to write about.


Best-seller, no doubt.

*Slowly backs away*


GASP! Weird postal crayons made in Czechoslovakia that I have no idea what to use them for! MUST HAVE!

I’m being serious.


I’m sorry, did I just walk into a screensaver?


Back to typewriters! I found this hanging on the wall at Bar Bukowski, which I also visited last year.


I think Bukowski’s books in general are misogynistic, male-bravado, wank-fests, but his quotes taken out of context are damned good.


This reminds me of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.”


I actually photographed this little red building back in 2006 but I didn’t record its location back then, so I had no idea how to find it again. I just used my directionally-adept nose and some intuition, wandered around for 2 weeks until I finally found it again. If you don’t know why this building is important, take ANY WALKING TOUR in Amsterdam and they’ll tell you. It’s the smallest building in the entire city.


It has the same depth as other buildings, but it’s only a metre and a half wide. Just long enough for me to lie down in. Someone was working at their laptop there…so yes, people live there.


Magic.


This wasn’t Amsterdam, it was the Delft… but holy gorgeous amazeballs postcard idyllic nostalgia-ultra-acolyte!


That’s it, I’m moving to Holland. Us old-lady-grannies-in-young-lady-bodies gotta stick together.


#Laser314’s poetry on the streets of Amsterdam will make your heart ache

Some people go to Amsterdam for the pot. Some go for the ladies in the red-lights. Some go for the bicycles.

I went for Laser314 (whom I have blogged about before). If you don’t know, Laser 3.14 is a street poet. He sprays his unique and original lines of poetry (yes, they’re his words) all over the city in English. Most locals tend to appreciate his work, as it is not seen as typical narcissistic vandalism. The poetry is moving, heart-breaking, ephemeral, and packs an emotional punch. When I found this piece last summer, I needed to sit down on a nearby bench. I  just tried to breathe.

It was a glorious two weeks.


I was lucky enough, through the magic of the webernet (heehee), to get into contact with the elusive Laser, and he instructed me to go graff-hunting in certain areas of Amsterdam, where I found many of these pieces.


But I also found many of these pieces on my own, just from using some intuition, a bike, and good pair of walking shoes 🙂


After a while of hanging out in Amsterdam and finding Laser’s work, I started to easily identify possible places he might have bombed. He seems to favour either the tarps that go over construction sites, or the plywood that protects constructions sites. There are very few instances of his poetry-art appearing on anything else (although I have seen photographs of his work appearing on skips and industrial garbage bins). If I were to hazard a guess, I would say he does this because, this way, he’s not permanently damaging anyone’s property. Those construction tarps and boards will come down, eventually. No harm, no foul, no clean-up, no damage. Everyone wins.


Travel beyond the shroud.
I adore this one.


We are always on the verge of something.


Vermin gnawing holes in democracy.


This one was the hardest to photograph because half of the piece was covered by cinder blocks and construction. It says, “Days of confusion precedes the age of reason.”


And the horses waited to be tamed…


Life can be such a lonely place.


Ha ha ha!


Vote Nixon, he’s dead.


Progress. Regress. Regrets.


Hello, I’m your assassin!


I wish I was someone…

I hope to find more on my next journey to the ‘dam. Well, if I’m hoping for things, I hope to meet someone who’ll spraypaint poetry about me one day …. but one step at a time, Chris.

Ah, so much Amsterdam-Awesomesauce.

More street art pics to come from my time in the most magical city on the planet… just you wait.