Blek le rat till Sverige

Sveriges första gatukonstfestival! We just recieved the line-up for NO LIMIT, Swedens first Street Art Festival. ETAM CRU, INTI, Blek le rar, ECB, EKTA, OLLIO, Carolina Falkholt, Isaac Cordarl, Peeta och The London Police will visit Borås in September 2014.

Shai 1

Hallo Shai Dahan! Tell us more about the line-up!

The line-up is rather surprising to me. I had no idea how great the response would be and I am very happy with the group we were able to put together.  As an artist myself, after spending some time in a few festivals the last couple of years, including a couple of them this past summer in England and Poland. I realized that as artists, we just want to paint.  This festival is a dream project for me and as such, I wanted to not hold back. I wish I could have invited everyone I want, but I think it is more interesting to keep things for hopefully the following years. We had to think of how to display a diverse group of artists. Not just different style of art but also from different cultures, different backgrounds and to be able to bring them here. We also wanted to be sure it is not just a ”mural” festival so we have guys like Isaac Cordal for example who does fantastic work without the need of a wall.  People will still be able to find artwork in even unexpected places which is exciting. I was also rather excited to see that the city backed me up with this and secondly, building owners were really loving the idea.  it was like an entire town just fell in love with the concept and everyone did whatever they had to do to see it become a reality.

Suddenly we have walls, some as big as 4 or 5 apartments high available for us to display real murals in our city of Borås.  I do think it has to do with Borås being a very tight city.  Everyone here knows eachother and supports eachother.  When I first mentioned this dream project, the local paper wrote about it, next thing to happen, I had the Chief Director at the Museum contact me directly telling me he wants to help me make it happen.  Nearly 12 months later, I have the city culture house, the Destination and Marketing company of Borås, local building owners, skylift owners, and just locals all supporting and helping me put this thing together.  It feels like the entire city is coming together to put it together.  It is not just my dream anymore, it has become the city’s dream project. Everyone is putting passion into seeing this happen now. The destionation and marketing compo ot the of bporåd.

How did you make this happen?

The process has been intense.  It has taken a lot of meetings, a lot of phone calls and a lot of more meetings.  It began with an interview I did in the paper where I kind of mentioned things I wish to accomplish. That was one of the things.  It was a project I wanted to do because of my love for art and my love for my city.  Coming from Los Angeles and New York, I was surrounded by murals and graffiti and street-art, and I see the value in it.  While things like the ”zero-tollerance” law makes it seem as though it is something to be ashamed of, I see it quite the opposite.  I see it as a way to raise value of the city, to open doors to new cultures and teach youth about art and culture and most importantly let the community reap the rewards of public art.

Right here in Borås you are seeing the ”community” choosing if Street-Art is something to be outlawed or not.  They are standing up and saying ”we think its worth gracing our walls”.  I think the whole process began with someone presenting the idea and then getting enough people to believe in the positive value of it to see it happen. And it is happening now all over Sweden. We saw the recent visit by ROA as well as other projects all around Sweden.  My hope is that with our No Limit Festival, we will open more eyes in other cities and perhaps show politicians, tourist offices and communities that it is safe and ok to speak up. It is ok to say ”I want more of this!”.   The fact that I sat in front of a group of people here in Borås and showed them mural work from around the world and have them say ”this is wonderful” made me feel confident that there is a chance to make a change. Not just here, but all across Sweden.

This is not a project I made happen by myself, it is something that is being made by people who are being brave enough to stand up and give a chance.  We know we may have backlash, we know there is a risk of controversy or that some people in the community may be against this, but I feel like now there are more people who want to be on the side of art, on the side of beautifying their community, that we finally have the power in numbers.

So, why is Borås the city that gives us Swedens fist Street art festival?

Borås has always been a very open city for art.  It has hosted the Skulpturbiennal for a few years now. But I also think that with a smaller town you have two things working in your favor. 1) Everyone knows everyone. So if you get enough people to believe in your cause, the word will get around.  I sat with people who told me they heard about my festival before I even asked for the meeting.  That confirmed to me that people were talking about it, discussing the idea, well before I even had a chance to plea for it.  2) With a smaller city, there are less political hoops to jump through I think.  There was a point during this process that I had to give my ”pitch” in front of a room of about 25 or 30 people. All at once.  But I imagine that if this was Stockholm, I would have to do it to a room of 60 or perhaps 100 people.

But mostly, I think its the people.  The group of people who are organizing this are passionate, and believe in this.  So I think that is whats driving this project.  There is a great deal of passion in a large group of people who are all picking up phones and setting up meetings.  I am proud of this city to be the first to do it.  Someone who is willing to open up walls. When it felt like everyone else was asking ”Why should we do this?”, it seem that Borås instead asked ”Why should we NOT do this?”.
What next? More artists? More Swedish artist?

We have a great group of artists. We have artists from France, Poland, Amsterdam, and Sweden too.  I would like to invite more but we also want to try to make this an annual event.  If we are fortunate enough to be doing this again in 2015, I think we want to make sure we continue to find new walls.  I am sure that when people see the positive outcome of these first 10 walls, people will begin to open up more walls for us in following years.  I don’t want to take up all the walls in the city with one festival.  My hope is for a long journey.  A legacy of sort of Festival.  Something that one day, I can paint in, rather than curate.  I am not painting in this first festival.  This decision was made for a couple of reasons, for one, I wanted to be sure that I don’t use this opportunity to get exposure for myself as an artist. It shouldn’t be about me and my artwork. Its about the city and the artists we invite.  I just want to curate.  The other part is that curating it will keep me very busy anyway.  I want to be sure both the city and the artists are happy when this is over.  I want to be available 24 hours a day for everyone involved and I can’t do that if I am on a skylift with headphones painting.  This festival is not for Shai to paint.  Its for my city to be introduced to more artists.  I can always go paint a wall another day, another time.  This is about the people.

Why ”No limits”?

The name came up on accident really.  We were sitting in a meeting and discussing what we want overall from this festival. What our expectation was.  I discussed the artists and the styles  and asked if there was any limit on what we can and can’t do.  The response was ”there is no limit”.  From that, we all mutually felt that it really deserved to be the name. If we approach this festival without limits,  then therefor it is a no brainer to just name it for what it is. It was kind of coincidental but it works.

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