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Vienna Street Art Festival blends activism and aesthetics, showing new side of the city

Vienna Street Art Festival blends activism and aesthetics, showing new side of the city

The Calle Libre Festival offers a guided tour through the meandering streets of Vienna, showing off the new street art

As the Calle Libre Street Art Festival comes to an end in Vienna, the organisers are offering a guided tour of the spaces they have transformed with their art. The tour is happening on Friday and Saturday and will take visitors away from the opera and towards the meandering streets of the city, showing them a different take on Vienna and its graffiti.

A different take on Vienna

The artists went to work on Monday when the festival began. On Friday afternoon, they will be completing their works on the many buildings scattered throughout the city. 

 “Untitled” by David Leitner, Kirchengasse 44, Vienna,
Source: Calle Libre website

The tour will take visitors on a meandering path in the sixth and seventh districts, from street to street and from one spot to the next. One of these spots is a vacant lot in Apollogasse, where the Mexican artist Said Dokins is designing a house wall. Another is in Richard-Waldemar-Park and Kaunitzgasse.

"Highest Impact!" - a mural in a Mexican Prison,
Source: Said Dokins website, 2018

In between the larger works are also small, hidden away gems, adding up to a total of six to seven kilometres in length of streets, making the tour last around two and a half hours. Visitors will also have a chance to meet the artists, who will be discussing the techniques they used, the motifs behind the works and their experiences.

“CADMIAE PROMETHIUM & RODODENDRON JAPONICUM” by FABIO PETANI,
 Paltaufgasse 2, Vienna, Source: Calle Libre website

Street art – breathing new life into bland urban spaces through activism and culture

As a street art festival, Calle Libre is eight years old and this year’s theme is “RE:PRESENT”. Their idea is to find an expression and comment on the current wave of xenophobia, social polarisation and obsession with security sweeping across the Western hemisphere.

They find the roots of these problems in centuries of colonial past, cultural appropriation and subjugation of peoples. This historic context leads to a perpetual “othering” of people with different customs and traditions. Their goal is to provoke debate on the topic, eventually leading to a revaluation of the societal obligations to the dispossessed and the exploited through imperialism in its various forms.

Untitled piece by video.sckre Liniengasse 29, Vienna,
Source: Calle Libre website

The organisers behind Calle Libre see street art as the perfect outlet for their ideas, as it has a unique way of integrating expressions of culture into the fabric of society. They hope to open up the conservative landscape of Vienna to a wider world with the help of this artform’s blend of activism and visual aesthetic.

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