For the catalog of the 2015 Nuart Festival, we were asked to write an essay on the topic of "play" and its role in Street Art. It got us thinking (and writing): Even in researching this year’s new art, I came across an essay that summed it up for me from 1958’s Internationale Situationniste #1; “The new phase of affirmation of play seems to be characterized by the disappearance of any element of competition.” It goes on to quote Dutch historian Johan Huizinga as saying play “brings a temporary, a limited perfection.” WeI do like the way this sets up this year’s Nuart.

Play is experimentation, play is spontaneous, play is working under the old adage that there are no rules, no guidelines set, no expectations, just pure enjoyment in the process of creating “something” that will just exist. That is how I look at it. And I understand why Nuart has chosen to focus upon this topic this year; we have lost a little of this rhetoric when we talk about Street Art, or graffiti, or any of these prevailing art cultures that we cherish and revisit each year.

The artist's in this year's Nuart line-up have really taken to the task, challenging themselves to create interactive, energetic, playful works that really took the intricate details of Stavanger, Norway and the history of public art into mind. One of the standout moments was orchestrated by Dutch artist, Harmen de Hoop, who invited a renowned economist from the Norwegian School of Economics to perform both an interactive mural and market forecast in chalk for a group of listeners. Not only did the equation completely reach the realm of scholarly intellect, it kept the audience on their heels that something, anything, would develop that they could reason with. (They couldn't, I couldn't; it's art, just enjoy it).

As we mentioned last week on the site, Ella & Pitr painted the world's largest mural on top of the roof of Block Berge Bygg (a cement company). Taking a helicopter tour over the site showed not only the massive size of the mural, but the actual context by which was placed; industrial center, surrounded by beautiful nature, an ode to the first Norwegian king, it all connected into an amazing concept of play.

From Ernest Zacharevic's brilliantly clever street piece based on a town center sculpture (above), to Isaac Cordal's distressed cement businessmen placed quietly around town, to Jamie Reid's situationist mural inside the Nuart exhibition space, and the childlike fun of Bortusk Leer, this year is a strong showing for Nuart. The ride isn't over, more works are to be completed, but a few days in, we are back in for a little play. —Evan Pricco

All photos by Ian Cox