FAULT Magazine in Conversation with Maximilian Wiedemann ahead of his Collier Bristow Collaboration

 

 

While planning this feature and our upcoming collaboration, I’ve read many other articles on Maximilian Wiedemann and his work and in my opinion, none have managed to capture and convey the soul of Max or what he is trying to show with his artwork. Like many artists, the more journalists that attempt to write and add outside narratives to his creations, the less people are listening to Max’s true voice which lives within his artwork. As Max gears up to launch his new range of t-shirt designs in collaboration with Collier Bristow, we wanted to learn more about Max and his views on the art world and beyond.

Rather than further muddy the waters and assign another box to place Maximillian’s artistry inside, I asked him to describe it in his own words for us.

 

Max: I’m a graffiti based artist. I come from the good old days inspired by modern art and subway artistry. I started painting on walls which were uninteresting to the public and it started to get me jobs and I was able to continue. If I had to describe my style, I’d say it’s where Haute meets street art.

Oozing with iconography and vibrant palettes, the rawness of his early work still appear in his contemporary pieces. In many ways, Max fills the space in the modern art world which Andy Warhol left behind. Despite his love of Haute, fashion, and the refined, Max stays true to his roots of street art and his original inspirations for creating. Observing his surroundings and finding art in the discord, Max’s work often plays on modern perception, themes, and self-reflection.

 

With the latest generation, I’m very aware that 15 minutes of fame is hugely sought after and admired but as an artist my job is to bring self-reflection to a relevant zeitgeist and plant new seeds for healthier ideas and ways of thinking.  

My new t-shirt designs mirror the vanity and the foolishness of those in our society who believe that money rules everything. “The better you look the more you see”, “The only pain Is champagne”, I’m turning the mirror on those people and reflecting their current mindset upon them in the harsh light of day.

The more I look at society the more I’m seeing how materialistic it is becoming and how much less we’re looking at the true values of humanity the way those who came before us did. I want a return to a broader way of thinking and to show that while money talks, it has nothing to say.

 

It’s clear that Maximillian cares and his frustrations are sincere and from a genuine place. For a clearer understanding, it’s best to observe Max’s own entrance into the art world. Finding his talent for street art and graffiti (or vandalism to some) and having never studied a formal art course, Max has never strayed from his grass roots mentality. Despite being commissioned by some of the biggest names and working with many social elites, there is a disdain in his voice when he discusses the “rich art school kids” anyone (including myself) would have met at university. Max is an artist who has excelled through the grit of his talent and has had nothing handed to him – while not fully innocent of splurging nor claiming to never have indulged during his success, he refuses to be a person of excess and refuses to create artwork just for a paycheque.

 

The rich are getting richer the poorer are struggling more. I’ve self-indulged at times, but I’m not going to do art without being in the position of messaging. My statements in this collection are directed at materialistic people who’ll do anything for a pay day. I’m asking them directly, “what is your integrity worth?”.  These are basic questions but I see more and more people chasing money instead of humanity or anything else without a financial gain.

 

The message is clear in his tone and his words that his latest body of work is born from his own frustrations with modern society and what he perceives to be the chasing of skewed ideals. While he touches on the point about his own times of self-indulgence, I also know that Max worked within the advertising industry for over ten years. I quizzed:

 

FAULT: You’ve said in the past that the advertising industry strengthened your understanding on the power of art, but as an artist, how could you not feel stifled or insincere working for such large and sometimes soulless corporations?

In advertising, we played the game of seducing people but with my art, I’m playing with the art of seduction which is a totally different thing. Living in the world of advertising I’d often tell myself, “this isn’t a real world, it’s faulty and manipulative.”

Advertising is the art of seduction but my seduction is my art.

I’m just putting a mirror up and showing you who you are and letting you truly perceive yourself and your values. People go and buy Rolexes in hopes that others will see it and say “wow, look at him and his money” but I want them to truly see themselves how I do. I have a design which takes their “Rolex” and I change it to “relax” as if to say “well done you own a Rolex what next? What does it truly mean? Nothing. Just relax.”  

You should be cool for what’s inside, if you can’t sit on a street curb and share interesting ideas and insights and only have a shiny watch and large bank account to offer, then you really have nothing.

I’m not against the establishment, I’m against soulless people who use daddy’s money as a ticket to notoriety to then become popular figures and idols. I’m a self-made man and I thought a long time about if I could do this art thing. But I’m putting my life on the line for this project because I have a message which I need to get out.

People are chasing money to pay for a soulless lifestyle which forces them to keep chasing money for even more soullessness, it’s a vicious cycle.

As an artist, I’m here to communicate. My art is communication.

 

Throughout our discussion, I’m wanting more and more to quiz Max on his chosen medium for this project. Why t-shirts and why fashion at all? By its very nature, fashion is materialistic and I recalling Oscar Wilde’s essay from 1885’s New York Tribune ( also published again in The Philosophy Of Dress’) “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”

 

FAULT: Fashion is and has been known to be a revolving door of ideas, trends and physical materials, so why choose such a throw away medium for such a long lasting message?

A canvas appears in someone’s home or gallery and is tucked away to be seen only those who are interested but I’m thrusting my message at you on a street level. I know it’s hypercritical to put it on a t-shirt but I feed off of the irony for this project. All my statements derive from irony, “La Vie En Pose”, “Detox to retox”, “The only pain is champagne” I’m in the business of the ironic and that’s the hidden or not-so-hidden layer to what I’m working on now.

On the same level, the collection is called Raw and Ready and you wear them direct from the hanger without receiving any social merit based on the name on the label alone. You can walk around with an outfit made by huge high fashion designers and receive a social standing based on that but with my collection, you have vibrant messaging without the social labeling. Once again I return to my saying “money talks but has nothing to say”, but my collection has much to say and much to question.

 

One take away from our discussion is the clarity of Max’s resolve to insight change of some degree to modern society. While conscious about adding another long and drawn out personal analysis of Max and further muddy the waters as mentioned in the article’s intro – it is important for me that Max’s message does not come across as false to our readers. There is a reason this interview is so challenging and far from the “What are you promoting? Why? What is your FAULT?” format some might expect. Launching a for-profit business in hopes of revealing the greed of modern society, sounds confusing on paper but through challenging discussion, we can hear his true motivations. A graffiti artist finds their canvas in the environment most needing of a message, and an artist finds a medium most suitable for their ideas – it’s no surprise then that Max has chosen fashion for his latest art piece.

As Max is passionate about having his name tied to this collection as am I with FAULT’s as we gear up to present the launch at Lights Of Soho this month. Grilling? Perhaps; but from this interview Max’s message is as clear as day and really fills us with excitement for his new collection. Time will only tell if the change Max is calling for will be acted on or if the statements he is making will be heard, but one thing is for certain, Max will keep creating and keep questioning as all great artists do.

Money may talk, but Max has far more too much to say before he listens to it.

Words: Miles Holder

 

Maximilian Wiedemann & Collier Bristow will launch their collaboration at Lights Of Soho on November 9th. For more information head over to lightsofsoho.com

FAULT Focus: French Street Art – Madame Moustache

In the second instalment of FAULT Online’s series of interviews with Parisian street artists we talk to Madame Moustache.

The large black and white collages of Madame Moustache are among the most readily recognisable of Paris’s eclectic proliferation of street art. Following a sell-out solo exhibition of original works at d’Hotel Manufacture in Paris, late last year, and another opening at Le M-Market, part of Marquise Cafe, next week (February 3rd), the 31-year-old actress-turned-artist has now adapted what she pastes on walls in Marais, Montmartre, Belleville, Menilmontant and Oberkampf  – cut-ups of vintage newspaper typography mixed with pictures from ’60s and ’70s girlie mags – to a successful range of Madame-branded t-shirts and tote bags.

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You only started making street art a couple of years ago. What were you doing before that?

I come from an artistic family. My grandfather and father were both painters but I decided at a young age that I never wanted to do anything that involved art. I studied theatre for seven years and I worked as an actress in France and Italy. But I was a really bad actress so I gave it up and travelled for a year through North and South America.

How did you come up with the name, Madame Moustache?

When I was eight years old, my grandmother told me I was ugly. I held that inside of me. Growing up, I never thought of myself as pretty. Even when I was older, I didn’t see myself as a women but a shy girl. I was very insecure. When I began to paste stuff on the street, it was more politically correct to address girls as madame instead of mademoiselle because after all, young boys don’t have another form of address. It was something of a feminist controversy. I thought it was so stupid that they kept talking about the use of  these two words but I also thought,. “Okay, I’m a madame but I feel like a tomboy. So Madame will represent what I am and Moustache will represent how I feel.” All my friends are men and sometimes I act like I have a moustache too. [laughs]

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Street art does seem to be male-dominated. Is it harder for a female to be taken seriously as a street artist?

From my point of view, being a girl and coming to the streets is hard. The guys laugh at you but you give it back to them. It’s good though. for girl like me, when you have cute shoes and a small jacket on,  pasting stuff up that’s sometimes 4 meters wide. The guys take notice and concede, “Okay, that’s funny.” I think it’s really interesting that when you paste your stuff up and graffiti artists, who graf on everything, don’t touch your work. They know you’re a woman but they don’t do anything to your work. That’s when you know you’ve got respect.

With your online store and the attention your collages receive on the streets, are you interested in the idea of turning your name into more of a product?

I am always changing, always evolving. Right now I just do my collages because of how it makes people feel.  I like making people think about love and happiness. This is my ambition, not to be famous but letting people know that there is no limits and just have love for everything that you do.

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When did you start your Madame brand of t-shirts and tote bags?

I started my t-shirts exactly one year ago now but didn’t take it seriously until recently. A friend of mine came to my home and saw my work. She suggested that I start doing t-shirts and I thought it would be a good idea. I started out with just two or three t-shirts that I gave to my friends. We went partying with the t-shirts on and people started to come up to us asking where we got the t-shirts. I printed more and more t-shirts – and from t-shirts, I started making tote bags and signed posters of my work. I sell them all online at http://www.madamemoustache.fr/boutique-2

What do you normally wear when you paste on the streets?

Always casual, and comfortable when I go pasting. I like wearing classic clothes but I’m not into brands. I have a way of mixing ordinary clothes.. I may not do it in the right way but it’s my personal way: classic/casual I think.

madame moustache t'as de beaux fruits tu sais...

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READ THE REST OF OUR FAULT FOCUS SERIES ON PARISIAN STREET ART:

FAULT Focus: An Introduction to Street Art in Paris

French Street Art – Le Diamant

French Street Art – Rubbish

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Words and photographs by Cheyenne Tulsa

FAULT Focus: French Street Art – Le Diamant

In the first instalment of FAULT Online’s series of interviews with Parisian street artists we talk to Le Diamant.

“I think street art is the evolution of graffiti. We have other laws that give us freedom to do what we want”

I visited 25-year-old Le Diamant, the artist known by parisians as the “the guy who puts jewelry on the street”,  in his shared warehouse studio in Pantin, at the eastern edge of Paris, just inside the peripherique. There he works on diamond-inspired pieces in a variety of media, including collage, screen-printing and mirrored-glass, a few of which he sells through his presence on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/diamant.streetart. Like many other of Paris’s more popular street artists, his work is gradually moving from city walls to gallery spaces but he still claims France’s legendary Space Invader and OBEY as his strongest influences.

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When did you start decorating Paris with diamonds?

When I came here two years ago. It seemed natural because I love the city. I used stencils at first then I started using mirror glass, which evolved quickly into the pieces that I’m doing now. I am still inspired by graffiti artists: Obey is one, Chris Pultz. And Invader made me realized that you need a kind of brand, a stamp so it is easier to be identified.

Do you have enjoy more official tolerance now you’re identified as an ‘artist’ rather than a graffiti writer ?

Yes, absolutely [laughs]. I’ve been caught a couple of times by the cops when I was a graffiti artist but never since I began sticking up my diamonds. I use to work very very fast while also keeping a look-out. Street art is more acceptable, even to the police. It might not be entirely legal, but f you use spray, they will definitely bust you.

The advantage about being a street artist, is that we can do everything at home. I could work for two hours on something then go out and have it stuck on the street in 5 minutes. If you work with spray then your work begins when you’re out on the street – it’s more likely you’ll get caught.

Why did you choose the streets to show your work?

I wanted to do something that was different to the usual graffiti. Writing is usually seen as ‘bad’, destructive. I wanted to be different by giving something beautiful, something different… a surprise. I wanted to share, to have fun and maybe meet people. I don’t think we give enough to each other. Of course, street art can evolve and be seen in galleries… but the streets and the audience that we have there are the beginning.

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You didn’t choose your street name yourself, did you?  

No. People started calling me Le Diamant because I was doing diamonds. I put the name on my Facebook presence so people could recognize who I was.  It’s a bit annoying though. I don’t want to be doing diamonds my whole life and I think Le Diamant sounds kind of like a corny French pop singer. I am trying to change my name to Le Diamantiare – whih is someone who cuts diamonds. It’s more suitable, I think.

How much work goes into just one of your pieces?

It really depends on the size. For small ones, it could take only five minutes – cutting the glass and using a stencil.  I only use mirrors I find on the streets. After I cut the diamonds to shape I wash it, clean all the dust away, then I paint them. I number every diamond before I stick it up on the street. So far I’ve stuck up around 400 of them.

 

 

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Do you prefer to stick them up at night or during the day?

Both. I go out at night to stick up the larger ones because they take longer to do. For the smaller ones, I can do them really quickly mostly during the day when I’m out walking. During the winter I usually do them on paper instead of glass because it’s not easy adhering glass in the cold. It’s easier to just do a paste up.

So what’s next?

Ah, wild places: maybe the Great Wall of China,  a Mayan Temple, or a pyramid in Egypt. I wish.

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READ THE REST OF OUR FAULT FOCUS SERIES ON PARISIAN STREET ART:

FAULT Focus: An Introduction to Street Art in Paris

French Street Art –  Madame Moustache

French Street Art – Rubbish

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Words and photographs by Cheyenne Tulsa

FAULT Focus: An Introduction to Street Art in Paris

For the coming month, FAULT Online will be running a series of interviews with Parisian street artists as part of our FAULT Focus series – an in-depth look into the methodology of the creative people who inspire us.

Art by Invader

Art by Invader

It’s probably fair to say that most people outside of Paris weren’t aware of French street art until they saw Banksy‘s 2010 documentary, Exit Through The Gift Shop. In it, the manic Thierry Guetta‘s grainy video footage of Parisian artists such as Monsieur André, Zevs and Invader – Guetta’s cousin – clambering up the city’s ancient walls or across its slate rooftops in the middle of the night to paint, stencil, paste or tile.

Art by Monsieur André

Art by Monsieur André

French street art looks different to a lot of what you come across in Britain or the USA. There is, not surprisingly, a sense of connection with an older, more mainstream artistic tradition. Sure, there are the anarchic tags and slogans that can be found in nearly every urban environment in the world, but there are also Invader’s surprisingly beautiful tile renditions of old-skool, bit-mapped Space Invaders, Fred Le Chevalier‘s stark black and white drawings of spooky, Emily The Strange-like girls (and boys), Bonom‘s gorey, building-sized collages, and Le Diamant‘s diamonds crafted from glass fragments, set like jewels on the most unlikely inner-city surfaces. There are projects like the 2010 Mausolée, 40,000m2 of specatcularly intricate, almost otherworldy spray-painted surfaces, created by a team organised by local street art stars, Lek and Sowat, in the ruins of a former supermarket in the north of the city.

Zevs chanel

Art by Zevs

Street art thrives in Paris, in part, because there is a measure of tolerance on the part of city managers and the police. They come down hard on taggers, who they look at as vandals, but they often turn a blind eye to the painters and pasters whose works beautify many of the not-beautiful parts of the city’s north and east. City-funded initiatives like le M.U.R. actively encourage artists to create works for designated ‘art walls’ and there are even state-subsidised urban art festivals.

French street art is finally getting the international awareness ­and respect it deserves. What sets it apart or, some of us would argue, above the ubiquitous hoodie pranksterism of, say, Britain’s post-Banksy wanna-bes or the anaemic and opportunistic sloganeering of the US’s Shepard Fairey is its headier mix of ideas, cultural differences – Paris’ large African and Arabic communities are adding their own, nervy take to it  – and intellectual discourse. Whether it survives the allure of gallery shows and six-figure price tags for the better-known names is too soon to tell.

Art by Nick Walker

Art by Nick Walker

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Read the rest of our FAULT Focus series on Parisian street art:

FAULT Focus: French Street Art – Interview with Le Diamant

French Street Art –  Madame Moustache

French Street Art – Rubbish

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 Words by Cheyenne Tulsa

FAULT FAVOURITE: RJ RUSHMORE ON AMERICA’S STREET ART SCENE

RJ Rushmore is Editor-in-Chief of Vandalog, the web’s definitive resource on what’s that’s happening in the weird, wonderful and constantly surprising worlds of street art and graffiti (check it out at blog.vandalog.com). FAULT caught up with him to discuss his thoughts on America’s street art scene, and in particular his experiences at New York City’s unique Underbelly Project, which saw over 100 artists gather together in secrecy to illustrate an abandoned subway station.

Both photos (above): Ian Cox

FAULT: What is it about street art that appeals to you, over other forms of artistic expression?

RJ: I’m uncomfortable in white-walled art galleries. I recently heard someone say, “Visitors are a tax that galleries must pay”, but with street art, the work is meant to be appreciated by anyone. Street art can be just as good, if not better, than whatever is in those posh galleries.

FAULT: What’s the street art scene like in New York right now? Is it still very much a hub for original, unsolicited material, or is the commercial aspect starting to take over?

RJ: Commercial street art definitely has a strong presence, but NYC is also the city with the most street art and graffiti photographers. Members of this extremely active community document street art every day, and new artists pop up all the time – their work is not ignored.

FAULT: With copyright issues placing ever more restrictions on art in the public domain, do you think it’s the typically illicit nature of street art that still forms a large part of its appeal?

RJ: Working anonymously and without permission makes it easier to break more rules, and overly restrictive copyright laws are some of the most tempting laws to break these days – whether you’re an artist or not.

FAULT: Which street artists are you currently excited by, and why?

RJ: LNY, Doodles, ND’A, Radical, Labrona, Nanook, Gaia and Overunder; they each have a graffiti writer’s energy combined with the graphic considerations of someone who has gone through a traditional art-school program. They’re helping to make up the next generation of North American street art.

FAULT: Tell us a bit about what it was like to see the Underbelly space first-hand.

RJ: The only light came from whatever light sources we brought with us, there were random holes in the floor, and there was so much dust… Of course, those things just made the experience all the more incredible. Seeing Underbelly was as much about being in a unique location as it was about the art.

FAULT: What were some of the most standout pieces you saw?

RJ: The ones where artists took the space into consideration; Mark Jenkins placed a life-sized sculpture of a masked person sitting down – it’s one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen. Joe Iurato painted a kid looking through a periscope, with the text ‘The People Upstairs Are Crazy’, which is what a lot of people probably would’ve thought about us if they knew what was going on beneath them.

FAULT: You’ve described Underbelly as one of the “most fascinating projects to ever happen in the street art or graffiti worlds”. What distinguishes it from previous mural projects?

RJ: The premise of mural projects is usually pretty standard: get a group of artists, and paint where you have permission to paint pre-approved images. The Underbelly Project isn’t a mural project in the traditional sense. There was no permission, and no promotion before it happened. In the flesh, it’s an art installation; but it’s intended to be seen through photography [which you can see in We Own The Night, the book documenting the project].

FAULT: Why did organisers Workhorse and PAC remove the entrance to the project?

RJ: They wanted to encourage people to treat the space like a time capsule, and discourage inexperienced explorers from risking their safety.

FAULT: As a “time capsule”, do you think the space will hold more significance for people who see it in the future?

RJ: People will look back on The Underbelly Project as a snapshot of an important moment in art, and I hope they’ll value the uniqueness of the project, as it is valued today.

 

All images taken from We Own The Night, which you can buy from Vandalog’s shop here.