RECAP: POW! WOW! Worldwide Returns to Rotterdam
In September, POW! WOW! Rotterdam returned to the Netherlands for the sophomore run of a festival that spreads globally and inserts a community of artists into the fray of urban life. Artists take over the walls and streets of a vibrant Dutch city, attracting over 10 thousand visitors to the festival grounds at Afrikaanderpark and its surrounding community
The main event features a street art program producing a series of large-scale murals, as well as small-scale installations by Spenser Little, pop-up exhibitions, van painting sessions, and a treasure hunt installation by Slinkachu. Additionally, the local botanical gardens were turned into a festival ground with live music performances and a breakdance program that gave a strong impulse of energy to an otherwise undistinguished neighborhood. Providing a great challenge for visitors to discover, surprising small-scale installations comment on the local life, existing setting, and everyday routines. In the Botanical Gardens Afrikaanderwijk, Slinkachu elaborated further, presenting eight tiny-scale pieces around the green oasis in the midst of an urban city. Using existing structures and city life as a backdrop for such witty interventions, only the most observant visitor could find Slinkachu's miniature people playing tennis with a bumblebee or riding a bee carousel, and discover them hanging from chewing gum underneath a bench, riding a worm, or lounging around with their loved ones.
Another project saw a first-ever collaboration by the Dutch dynamic duo, Telmo Miel, and Australian Realist master Smug. Blending two complementing styles, the artists composed an image of a girl riding a bike as a skeleton sits in the back seat. Using a constrained color palette dominated by purples and pinks, the finished five-story mural depicts a dreamy, surreal idea of everyday life beneath it. French artist duo Murmure painted a poetic image of a rubbish bag in the shape of a soaring bird, further developing their ongoing project Garb(age), which will be revealed in an upcoming exhibition in Paris in 2020. Another Dutch artist, Stefan Thelen aka Super A presented his signature concept of mixing truth and fiction by painting a convincing image of Pinnochio and Jiminy Cricket. With a real boy and cricket wrapped inside each familiar image, the artist creates a symbolic connection between reality and the alluring world of fantasy. Other large-scale works include pieces by Dodici (I) Smok (BY) Dourone (ES), Saïd Kinos (NL), Danny Rumbl (NL), Helen Proctor (AU), Woes (US), Didier Jaba Mathieu (SG) and Nina Valkhoff (NL). –Sasha Bogojev
Photo credit by @annietram77, Slinkachu, and Spenser Little