A word from the artist

Street art in urban settings: what street art says about Agrigento and Perm.

Agrigento has hosted the first Utopia Fest urban landscape festival. Ten Italian artists came to the city to create street art, land art and sculptures in the streets and courtyards of Agrigento over five days.

Remote urban areas provided the setting for the main festival venues. As a rule, these do not enjoy as much involvement in public and cultural life as the centre. Andrea Tripaldi, the festival’s art director, explained: “We want to turn the periphery of the city into an open-air museum for all. “Utopia” is bringing modern art onto the streets using it as a tool for urban renewal and to breathe new life into neglected spaces”. The festival took place in cooperation with the city council as part of the “Agrigento 2020” project and the city’s archdiocese.

During the festival the city hosted art performances, animated concerts, seminars and presentations, exhibitions, evening DJ sets, night-time gastronomic tours of the city and tours areas of religious buildings not normally open to the public. The conference “ The landscape and cultural heritage of the city and the development of tourism and the local economy” looked at the city’s development, different methods of social and cultural integration and new models for the regeneration of urban spaces.

The festival organisers consider young people to be the main audience. The events over these few days aim to encourage Agrigento’s young residents to look at the city differently and motivate them to improve their home city.

Since 2012 Perm has hosted the “Ecology of space” a street festival. This is an open competition of street art ideas where artists can use building facades, tarmac, telephone booths and fences etc. The Perm Street Art Festival was the brainchild of Aleksandr Zhunyov. His idea was to enhance existing infrastructure without overloading the streets with new structures.

In 2017-18 the festival used locations in the valleys of Perm’s small rivers where art installations were placed on observation platforms.  Aleksandr Zhunyov planned to build “Tenyota”, but unfortunately he died in August 2018.

Anna Zhunyova, his widow said in an interview for the “Business Class” publication: “You have to think ten times over what it is you want to say on the street, because when you make a statement in a public place you know a huge number of people will see it. This consideration should not be the main motivation to do something on the street, but the creative act should have a global message – to improve the world, make it a more beautiful place and extend the boundaries of one’s small bourgeois world. You shouldn’t just be concerned with your own apartment or your car or immediate area (and have no regard for the outside world), but you should be concerned with the whole city. I think this was Aleksandr’s mission and his main lesson for all of us – we ourselves create our own reality”.