The bushido of the can
A mad-driven journey deep into the heart of Guadalajara city.
Friday night, October 3rd, around 11PM, Mexico City.
“Are we really that many already?”,
is in my opinion, where the adventure took hold,
leaving the Downtown hostel.
Seen through the eyes of many a foreigner,
Mexico as a nation has a completely different way of organising things, if not a total lack of it.
Yet in general everything magically works out.
Allow me to elucidate on this for a moment.
Accompanying a Mexican, you can never surely tell where you´re going, or how long things are going to take, and hardly ever are you given notice of many – and for no obvious reason – changes of plans.
The word they use to describe this phenomenon is “ahorita”, by far my all-time favorite word in Mexican. It is the diminutive of “now” – Mexicans love and frequently use diminutives – a peculiar concept.
Even when you think you are finally able to barely grasp its meaning and this can take a long fucking time, you´ll still be proven very wrong.
For it can mean a wide variety of things, ranging from right now, just now (it also goes back in time) to, soon, later, in half an hour, 2 hours, or, in some cases never.
Anyway, after an 8 hour nearly sleepless bus ride we enter Guadalajara on time, and check into the Mission Carlton Hotel.
It is a fun gang, I recall thinking, and could not possibly be any more diverse.
Friendships are forged, and I for one don´t have a clue as to what exactly to expect, but prospects are high, and not just the prospects.
Although most never met before, the atmosphere is one of amicality, respect, unity, hermanos.
It is a fancy hotel, probably the fanciest many of us have been to, y unas flautas con queso y frijol después, the mob heads out.
Then, at last, we catch sight of The Wall, appearing impresionante, massive, 1 Km long, on both sides of the tunnel.
The highway is closed off entirely, and it feels like an invasion, an army of 200 souls, eager, anxious, impatient, fingers itching, hijo de la chingada!
Curiois locals passing by don´t have any idea what´s about to happen, but, then again, how could they?
To them it must be a strange and unusual sight, seeing them occupy the tunnel, squatting on the highway, aided by la policía, up untill 7 o´clock, when they start looking for trouble (the police that is).
All of a sudden, a few thousand watts is blasting out of the speakers, and the game is on!
For the occasion especially labeled with the MOS-logo, 360-cans are handed out, 18 for each painter, and soon the first outlines are sprayed.
I find myself hypnotized, bedazzled, enchanted by the rattling of the cans, the smell of paint in the air, the full focus, and I must say I`m already having a ball!
This is Meeting Of Styles 2014 Guadalajara Mexico, the amongst connaisseurs and aficionados legendary graffiti-event, currently held in over 50 countries, each year gaining more host cities.
This gathering transcends ego, envy, pride, competition or hierarchy, is about equality & a willingness to create and exchange.
From all over the world, sharing a passion, united by the love of the art.
A real bunch of maniacs. Each one teach one.
This is who they are.
This is what they do.
The graffiti-artist´s whole being, history, personality, vision and conviction are displayed and thus in and on concrete.
Maybe, having arrived at a potential turnpoint in this story, I ought to do well explaining a bit about my unexpected, yet afterwards clearly significant role in the ongoings pictured.
I`m travelling with 2 painter friends, we come from Belgium.
Belgium is approximately 300 by 500 Km.
We are 10 million.
For the occasion they`re joining crews with 2 French veteran lunatics.
I`ve seen my buddies work 36 hours – with hardly any sleep – straight. I trie to assist them in this incomprehensive, illogical and complicated land that is Mexico.
I don´t paint, I translate, constantly and quickly shifting between 6 different languages. I know Mexico pretty well, negotiate, mediate, meditate and medicate.
I feel a part of this, observing, writing.
The meeting is drawing more & more spectators, and Milouz is jokin´ around with the cops, and they´re even taking pictures.
You gotta hand it to them Mexicans, they like to think big, and despite some delay everything is going smooth. Big up Gerso!
Effort nor expense has been spared to turn this into a real succes. No doubt about it, Graffiti is big anno 2014.
You wouldn`t suspect it by looking at Manuel that he`s the guy who started all this back in `84, when graffiti – and hiphop in general – was still taking babysteps in Europe.
Much has changed since then, materials, techniques, ideas & influences, but the objective has always stayed the same, showing the world that it`s not about vandalism, street pollution, but quite the contrary, about bringing diversity, creativity, and colour in the grey urban jungle we against our will nowadays inhabit.
They tried to punish him, locked him up. But he fought back, proved himself a true artist. And how!
In such a way, to such an extent that they could neither ignore nor stop it anymore.
It had gotten big.
Suddenly I`m doing & translating interviews, photographing and recording.
I get mixed up in the thing a lot more than I could have imagined.
Cease to feel an outsider. A warm welcome I`m met with.
I feel at home amidst these guys.
Art is art, no matter which medium used.
I rewarded and calmed myself down after so much stimulation with a nightly slightly drunk swim in the Carlton pool, soon after being kicked out though, but what the hell, I had my fun. I had my sip ´n dip beneath the stars.
The next day turned out to be a madhouse, full speed, or Mexican sosa if you will, working fast, working together, spontaneous and concentrated, fuming. I sure as fuck like these people.
Small boys running around gathering, collecting autographs, too many invitations, gifts, respect, appreciation, so many it makes me dizzy.
They even ask mé for a tag, although I tell ´em I don´t paint.
I wonder how my homies still find the time to paint between all this.
I too for the first time discover this new and fascinating world, kinmenship, bonding, and accordingly I appear to be drinking more booze, using more substances, going deep into the flow.
TSF and Disorderline crew:
A Made Man.
Theme of the MOS this year was Cause and Effect,
something Mexicans are painfully acquainted with.
A tremendous amount of talent here, an ingenious mix betzeen the ancient and the contemporary. Often very young, showing great skill.
In a country where smoking signs don´t mean a thing, and are simply hung up to be in accordance to the law. Where people comply, but not obey.
Education, access to knowledge, a basic right, should be offered and supported by their government, instead of ceaselessly, constantly, scrupulously and inconsistently drowning them, punishing and kicking them when lots of them are already down.
In my humble opinion as a layman, the goals are achieved far beyond satisfaction, chingón!
About time for some chelas and mescalitos, if you ask me!
Bien hecho, cabrones, mis primos, hasta luego, esto fue muy chido!
The result is there, and once grim walls are now vivid, full of life, colour and character.
As for myself, I rest in awe.
El Micro-Gramo AKA Don Tobisco – Disorderline