Brad Downey was Here
We really like Brad Downey’s work and have been following him for a long time. For 4 years we tried to invite Brad to Moscow. He is an artist who creates stunning urban sculptures or 'spontaneous sculptures' as he calls them, using found objects. 2 years ago, he published a book by the same name in which he collected examples from cities across Europe. It is a collection of absurd and surreal installations from Europe (especially Germany). But in Moscow we have very 'creative' workers in our city services with many crazy and unconscious sculptures created out of curiosity.
On his first day, Brad was stuck at the airport at 6:00 due to a problem with his visa. Of course, the last express train had left, and the taxi driver did not speak English. Other technical problems plagued him during his lecture at ‘Delai Summit’.
The sound was not working on the videos he wanted to show, and the image kept freezing. In general, everything was as usual, and Brad was ready, maintaining a sense of humor and keeping in good form rather than getting frustrated.
Stalin's nose is continue of French work of Brad Dedicated to Sarkozy
He talked about his idea of thinking about urban space by setting up special optics to see street objects as elements of design, from which you can do anything you want.
He emphasized how positive and ironic things sometimes invert understanding of the functioning of a particular object, and sometimes the laws of physics in general: ‘Something is wrong, right?’.
On the last day of the ‘DIY Summit’ Brad ran a workshop with 30 participants. Way too many people for an artist who usually works with a maximum of 10. But Brad’s vision of urban object was realized well here; maybe we love urban chaos, which we find in every city in Russia.
Participants of Brad’s workshop were inspired by his ideas of analysing their urban environment and looking for objects for create spontaneous sculptures. Four groups of 'spontaneous soldiers' walked around ZIL Cultural Center (a big post-soviet culture center of constructivist style) and created interventions in the city. These interventions were quite like the ‘real spontaneous’ works created by Moscow workers—very fun, and inspired by Russian workers' ingenuity.
Some combinations created by the workshop participants were about moving and changing the function of urban objects. For example, it’s very hard to imagine an expensive jeep as a Russian tractor or a sport which mixes football and basketball.
But in some ‘sculptures’ we see new functional options for the object — like the fences and trash boxes from old car wheels.
Many of the combinations were simply beautiful — good geometric forms and color accents to create a nice mood for residents.
While walking in the city (Moscow is huge and 5 days was not enough to really research the city), Brad collected many photos of urban ‘art’ works. Of found objects which would be called 'art' in Europe, but for us is not considered art, it’s just normal stuff from the streets. It seems that we do not need ‘special’ art in the city at all, the only thing we need is to reconfigure our ways of seeing, to identify the ‘unusual’ in everyday life and in the surrounding objects. We have many many Brads here as workers, and later we will write about this too.
When Brad was here, Moscow city workers were in the process of repainting and repairing urban objects. Brad took a small bottle of yellow paint from workers and improved the city too. For him this was still ‘art’ ;-)