The quaint Belgian coastal town of Ostend is currently hosting the 4th consecutive edition of internationally renowned The Crystal Ship festival. One of the first artists that visited the city and left his mark was Escif, who we've featured in our Spring 2018 issue.

The Spanish artist painted two murals during his stay, tackling major global issues in his very unique way and continuously shifting the line of what's to be expected. Mixing the activism with the popularity of mainstream culture as well as local culture, Escif addressed the themes of Earth's future and borders with his witty interventions. Counting on the power of social media and thirst for kitsch and all things cute, he painted a large portrait of an adorable white dog accompanied with the text saying "Save the planet". The second one used the local comic icon Tintin, who was painted in large scale along with his trusty canine friend Snowy, just without any outlines. The messy, seemingly unfinished yet captivating twist to a household character is then used to pass on a fitting message simply stating "No borders."

Curated by Bjørn Van Poucke, the theme of this year's event is The Dictatorship of Art, a manifest of sorts that is based on the statement of German artist Jonathan Meese who stated that Art is by far the most radical thing you can do with your life. Over the years the festival built a solid relationship with the local community and government, becoming a landmark yearly event that turns town's public space into the vibrant mural and public installation venues. Aware of the influence and power of art, the curator and the organizers are this time sending out a message to "forget politics, forget religion, forget ‘purchasing power’ or other truisms", suggesting that "only Art has the power to truly change the world".

The Crystal Ship invited an impressive lineup of the international artist to bring that sentiment into reality - Case Maclaim (DE) - Crystal Wagner (USA) - David Walker (UK) - Escif (ES) - Helen Bur (UK) - Jaune (BE) - Leon Keer (NL) - Lonac (HR) - Marina Capdevila (ES) - Miss Van (FR) - Mohamed l’Ghacham (ES) - Paola Delfin (MX) - Tom Herck (BE) - Wasted Rita (PT).

reporting by Sasha Bogojev