The last week GlobalStreetArt was lucky enough to catch up with Jakob Kattner, initiator and curator of Austria’s biggest StreetArt Festival called „Calle Libre“. Calle Libre takes place in Vienna from 10th -13th of August. The line up of artists painting for this years festival consists of a great mix between internationally and nationally acclaimed StreetArtists consisting of: Rodrigo Blanco (Brazil), Mr. Woodland (Germany), Stinkfish (Columbia), Key Detail & Yu-Baba (Belarus), Giuliano Martinuzzo (Brazil), The Weird Crew (Austria & Germany), Ruin (Austria) and Skirl (Austria). Most of them are frequently featured by GSA, so we are sure you already know some of their splendid artwork.
Calle Libre was founded 2013. Since then the festival left some big footprints around Vienna, making StreetArt in Austria not only more accessible but also leading to its growing acceptance in the city. In order to understand the Festival’s unique approach, we got a glimpse of what is happening behind the scenes and who is working on the festival making it the passionate event it is.
When Jakob Kattner, a now 30 something young, ambitious and kind of crazy (in every positive way) guy, went abroad 2007 for 14 months to write about Hip-Hop culture/ Graffiti in Latin America, he not only knew not one word in Spanish, but he literally also had only one contact to a guy from Colombia. The guy in question turned out to be now famous StinkFish, who opened his home and his network of befriended painters across Latin America to the Upper Austrian born Graffiti enthusiast and rapper. The trip turned out to be an amazing journey for Jakob who travelled through Guatemala, Colombia, Argentina, El Salvador, Chile, Brasil & Mexico. At the end of the journey Jakob came back with a bag full of experience, a short movie about the local graffiti/ hip-hop scenes and a draft for his PhD dissertation about Latin American StreetArt.
Needlessly to say Jakob’s trip turned into a lifelong obsession of pushing StreetArt and its perception as an art form to new heights. In order to do so he founded the Calle Libre festival. Living in Vienna, it was clear to him that there was no better place to properly establish Art than in one of undoubtable most renowned art capitals of the world – a place that has been starting point to some of the biggest art revolutions originating from the hands of Klimt, Schiele and many others ever since.
While in recent years StreetArt has somehow become more present and accepted in Vienna (also thanks to InOperable Gallery, Galerie Hilger, ImProperWalls, AdHocPad, RabbitEyeMovement or the new uprising StreetArt galleries popping up), Vienna, still is in its Austrian ways, hard to deal with if you want to get permission to paint within the city’s core.
A struggle that became even more painful at the first year of the festival where only Jakob and his girlfriend Laura Schuetzeneder worked on everything. Jakob and Laura soon realized that it was way too much work for two people, yet still pulled through with their passionate project. Nowadays there are between and 6-8 people working one year in advance to the festival, trying to get permissions, contacting artists, booking flights, finding competent sponsors (as the whole festival is freely financed), collaborators and city district directors that help to ease bureaucracy. The festival collaborates with several galleries (this years are: ImproperWalls, Jan Arnold Gallery & RabbitEyeMovement) and institutions (such as the Mumok) in Vienna, that not only run exhibitions during the festival but also offer workshops for people who want to dive into making Street Art themselves.
As a curator Jakob is sure that StreetArt was the best thing that happened to art in the past decades, creating a new, inspiring and exciting art movement that will gain more acceptance along the way. Yet StreetArt, he says, will always stay between legality and illegality – making it difficult to exhibit illegal work in galleries, as his close friend Stinkfish once said “Graffiti in a gallery is no graffiti”. While Tags and Throwups are difficult to understand for a gallery visitor, paintings by StreetArtists are way easier to grasp, making it possible for the observer to slowly dig into the StreetArt realm that happens outside the gallery. While galleries that charge entry fees usually exclude people from art, galleries that show StreetArt happen to invite people to go outside and explore the city’s street galleries, connecting people to free and always accessible art. Jakob & Laura are proud to offer that free art to everyone brave enough to look at.
Photos: Calle Libre/ Warda (http://warda.at/)
Interview: Nuno Wr.