E28 – The Addi Files: Paris Street Art
Welcome to the Addi Files. The Addi Files are when I want to dig a little deeper into a topic and don’t have an expert available, so I send Agent Addi out to investigate and bring back her findings.
This week I sent her out to investigate more about The Invader and Paris Street Art, and these are her findings.
I put together a blog post with the street art locations I mentioned in the episode in case you are interested in visiting any of them.
Here is a transcript of the podcast. Please remember this was done via AI, so there are typos and mistakes.
In the cover of darkness, a masked man can be found installing tile mosaics on buildings throughout Paris and other cities. These mosaics often resemble old video game characters or other pop culture figures. Each piece of art is carefully planned, created, installed and documented, each taking two to three weeks. Who is this man? No one knows for sure. But he goes by the name of the invader. Welcome to the roaming Yeti podcast. I’m your host and head Yeti Beth Schillaci. And this week, we’re diving into the ADDIE files. The ADDIE files are when I want to dig a little deeper into a topic, and I don’t have an expert available to interview so I send our agent Addie out to investigate and bring back her findings. This week, I sent her out to investigate more about the invader and Paris street art. And these are her findings. Welcome to the ADDIE files.
Before we look into the invader in more depth, let’s start with some background on Paris street art, which you will see all over the city. And some of it is so beautiful, and it’s often thought provoking. And sometimes it’s just fun. And there are several reasons that Paris has such an amazing street art scene. And they have a rich history of artistic expression throughout the city. The legacy of Impressionism and Cubism fostered a culture of creativity that has spilled out onto the streets from the museums. And the fact that Paris is considered a cultural capital of the world, so attracts artists of all types to the city to, you know, show their art, whether in museums, galleries are again on the street. And the varied architectural styles and neighborhoods offers such a diverse Canvas for street artists. If you listen to my we were in Paris episode, I talked about how you would walk down the street, turn a corner and just, you know, the change in architecture and the history in front of you, and, and so forth. So I can definitely see how these different neighborhoods and each personality of the neighborhood really does leave this diverse Canvas for street artists to to enjoy and sort of play with. In street art is often an expression of political and social activism, which Paris has a long history of allowing artists to spark dialogue and engage in conversations. And also, while some may view street art as vandalism, Paris has developed a certain tolerance and acceptance of street art as art. Now mind you, not all street artists are legal in Paris, there are regulations that must be followed. And there are legal areas for the street art. So there definitely is still vandalism in the city, but you know, a lot of the street art you see is approved and in proper areas. And lastly, another reason it has an amazing street art scene is it’s such a tourist city, and the street art just adds to the city. And it appeals to the tourist. I for one can can attest to that. And it’s a whole contrast to so much of what you’re gonna see in the museums and it. It also really makes art more accessible to anyone you can be walking down the street and see the art you don’t have to buy your tickets ahead of time, get a tour, stand in line go through security. It’s just there as you’re walking and enjoying the city. So let’s take a little bit of a more of a look at the history, history of the city street art. The roots of Paris street art began with the emergence of graffiti culture in the 60s and 70s. And, you know, French artists were inspired by New York City, graffiti artists and began to leave their marks on Paris walls and subway trains. I’m sure the French were really thankful for, for our contribution right in the beginning of that, in the 1980s. During the hip hop culture in France, it fueled the growth of street art and became an important part of the hip hop moment. The Belleville and mentleman tent neighborhoods here I go butcher in French again, sorry everyone became hubs for artists and their art. And this brings us to the 90s and the early 2000s. When new styles and techniques of street art started to surface including stencils, paste ups and urban interventions. Paste ups are typically those posters that are painted to surfaces. You’ll see them in the cities but they use apparently a mixture of water and wheat flour to paste those up. And then urban interventions and cars or incur occur in public spaces, they’re often temporary and often engage the community and foster interaction. You probably have seen a lot of these here in the US think of sort of those temporary art installations you see in cities. Now, this is about the time that the invader emerged. So during the 2000s, Paris began to recognize street art as a legitimate art form art form, with kicking off some initiatives to actually provide spaces for artists to create murals legally. And, you know, if, again, if you listen to the Paris episode, you heard me talk about the invader. But as he went a little more in depth to get a little more background on him and his art for us. And if you didn’t listen to that episode, why didn’t you know just kidding, but why didn’t you honestly go go? Go listen to it when you’re done here. In that episode, I mentioned the art of the anonymous, French street artist and activists the invader, and his art is located on buildings throughout the city. His work can be found in cities across the gross globe actually. But Paris features the most with approximately 1200 pieces of art throughout Paris. His art is often made of small ceramic and glass tiles, allowing him to make mosaics with the style of an eight bit arcade game. He was born in 1969. And then invader became well known in the 1990s by creating these pixelated works of art that draw inspiration from video games, popular icons, and street culture in general. So some of the characters and elements that you can see in his work are Space Invaders, Pac Man supermario, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, David Bowie, Darth Vader, Mona Lisa, Olympic rings, and so much more. While his specific process is a secret, it has been revealed that his steps do include a few things. First, a location scouting. He conducts research on potential locations, identifying the array type of walls, facade and public spaces for his most mosaics. He takes into account visibility, accessibility, and also the potential impact that you know that location has, that’s what he evaluates. Then there’s design. With a location selected the invader designs, what will be installed there and creates his signature pixelated characters. The size the colors and design take into account his location that he has selected. And then he creates the mosaics. This is done usually by using glass and ceramic tiles. He builds the mosaic and it hears it to a backing material, so it’s ready for installation at night. The next step is is his installation. He transports the mosaics to a specific location in the cover of darkness to avoid unwanted attention while installing and make sure the art is securely attached to the wall. He then documents the peace through photographs and videos. And he you know, he does this to serve as evidence of authenticity, because you know, of course, being famous people have decided to copycat, but he makes sure that he posts things that give him that authenticity after he installs it. Now, of course, not everyone is a fan and as some authorities consider his work vandalism. Well, some cities embrace his work other view, others view it as illegal and he is face legal accountability in addition to worldwide recognition and praise. And even now, people have attempted to rebuild his artwork, and thus destroying the house in the process, which in itself is considered theft and vandalism. And while the invaders work is public art he does generate income through selling original mosaic art pieces and limited edition prints as well as other methods like speaking and commissions. When he speaks he usually has a mask on or in the videos they pixelate out his face, so no one’s quite sure who he is.
But in addition to everything else he does he has been involved in numerous philanthropic activities by promoting social causes and raising funds for nonprofits. He even supported the health care workers during COVID By organizing an online op Share of limited edition artwork. So you know, we were a fan or a fan here. If you’re in a city that features invaders work, there is an app for your phone called Flash invaders that allows you to, quote unquote, collect photos of his work worldwide. I didn’t use it on our trip, but it’s definitely something I will try next time. We do have a lot of pictures of his art on our cameras on our phones. It’s just really fun to look for. And it’s really cool looking. But one of my favorite pieces of information that Addy brought back for me is that his parents? His parents don’t even know what he does. They think he works in the construction industry as a Tyler. So he really is anonymous. Probably a few people know but even his parents aren’t sure. So while there are apps and maps to help you find the invaders work here are a few places throughout Paris to help you find other artists street art and murals. The canal Oh, here we go. I’m going to butcher butcher more French for you. The canal st Denis in the north of Paris has featured features a street or Avenue, which is a special project where artists are invited to paint along the canal so you can walk along the canal and see up on the wall. All these cool murals. A second one is Vitry sur Seon in the southeast suburb of Paris and it is the home to a vibrant street art scene making it feel like an open air museum. A third area is Belleville and this is in the 20th district and is considered by some the pioneering neighborhood for street art. The overconfident neighborhood has the wall by the same name is located at 107 Rue oberkampf. And this wall is changed monthly. So there’s a chance you could actually find an artist busy at work if you visit there. The center Pompidou has numerous outdoor murals including the classic Jeff aerosol piece, which depicts a man who may be mistaken for Dali. There, Stalingrad, Stalingrad which has you can see enormous murals by Yan LA Zoo. And then sevens, we got the Boulevard 13 project, which is a collaboration between 22 street artists. There are 32 murals in this 13th district, which is pretty cool. Montmarte which is a very well known neighborhood has street art around just about every corner in this neighborhood. So you know, while you’re visiting other places Montmarte keep an eye out for that. Aubervilliers wow, I know I didn’t say that right, which is the longest wall art mural in the city. There is 500 meter length wall of Rosa Park murals. So you know, American history buffs like let’s let’s go check that out for sure. And the rue dough mela Mont tent is another great spot which has one of the most famous murals found here by artists drum messenger and so you don’t have to go to Paris to enjoy street art the town I live in Frederick Maryland has many mural murals to enjoy while you walk through the downtown. So get out there and check out what this what the street art you can find in your neighborhoods, you know around you. And next time you see street art don’t dismiss dismiss it just because it isn’t in a museum or gallery. Take a moment to take it in and and enjoy it and appreciate it for what it is. Well, that is the case closed on the invader and Paris street art. Thanks to agent Addy for putting together this brief for us. Stay tuned to see what mission I send out eon next. I would love to hear if you liked this episode and want to hear more like it. Also, if there is a topic you want added to investigate. Let me get let me know and I will send her off on our next mission. Until then, thanks for joining me. I hope these episodes inspire you to get out and roam. Even in your own neighborhood. Please subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes. And if you like what we’re doing here, please leave a rating and review. Also to help support us please head to Yeti to shop.com to pick up some roaming that emerge and sign up for our newsletter to join us in our monthly bingo challenge. Talk to you soon. on and keep roaming