US Embassy Project June 2011
ALEJANDRO HUGO DORDA MEVS
aka AXEL VOID
Paintings, Drawings & Mural.
One Month Exhibit
June 3 – 26, 2011
This project is funded in part through a U.S. Department of State,
U.S. Embassy-Ottawa Public Affairs Section Grant.
Vernissage Friday June 3 / 7 – 10pm
Beats by DJ JAS NASTY
Proudly sponsored by CKCU 93.1 FM & MERCURY
The artist, who currently resides in Berlin, Germany, will be in attendance on opening night.
“Every time a man is begotten and born, the clock of human
life is wound up anew to repeat once more its same old tune that has already been played innumerable times, movement by movement and measure by measure, with insignificant variations.” – Arthur Schopenhau
Mediocre is a series of expositions, actions, murals, and various types of intervention, each one a complementary part of the whole, while keeping its individual reading. From an analytic and existentialist standpoint, Mediocre exposes different aspects of the everyday—the day-to-day of the people that make up an intrahistory, the history of those who don’t appear in textbooks, those who go undocumented and form a part of the enormous group we call the people.
It examines various themes, seeking out the extremes that emerge in distinct cultures and contexts. It is possible to separate these extremes into three categories: the positive, the negative, and the neutral. The positive refers to pleasure and beauty, the negative to violence, death, and tragedy, and the neutral (also considered an extreme) is the absence of both. These concepts are equivocal: from cynical, nihilist or pessimist, to vitalist or even romantic, these interpretations can change depending on the observer.
Mediocre in Ottawa will present a selection of works and a workshop. The exact images and themes of the selected works were chosen at random, yet fall into the Mediocre concept. The workshop will be comprised of people in the city from different backgrounds (homeless, addicts, housewives, and working class people, to name a few) interpreting the theme through their own paintings. These works will also be exposed and put up for sale in the Mediocre show at Le Petite Mort Gallery.
Alejandro Hugo Dorda Mevs, also known as Axel Void, was born in Miami in 1986 to a Spanish father and Haitian mother. The hectic, unstable and ever-changing atmosphere in which Alex was raised, influenced his way of understanding things along with his way of representing them.
At 3 years old Alex went to live in Cadiz with his mother, where he had to get used to living in several places for short periods of time.
When Alex was 10 years old, his Haitian grandfather came home with a saxophone for him that he bought for nine dollars. This is where his passion for music began. A few years later this passion was accompanied by his career as a painter. Along with the saxophone Alex plays the sideflute, clarinet and piano. He has also played and recorded with various jazz, funk-rock, electronic, rap and experimental music groups and bands.
Alex began to teach himself to paint at very young age. In 1999 he was introduced to the graffiti world, which influenced his forms of expression as well as the conception of his work taking a parallel path with the commercial world of contemporary art.
At 16 Alex’s mother returned to Miami, and Alex decided to stay in Cadiz and maintained a kind of nomadic and solitary lifestyle. Afterwards, he lived between Granada, and Sevilla, where he still lives, maintaining the rhythm of frequent travel, painting, and music.
Alex’s pseudonym comes from the compostion of his work: the juxtaposition of form and emptiness, silence and sound, and Void’s way of combining and confusing empty space with closed space.
Alex has always lived in environments where drugs were present, which in combination with experiences suffered in his family, brought about in Alex a rejection of substances and “pseudo life”. This rejection and his concept of “Home” are two of the most recurring themes in Void’s work. It can be said, however, that its not so much these themes that call attention, so much as the dynamism of his work–ambiguity, discomfort, unease, are some of the most fundamental features of Alex’s work, which mores than give any clearcut messages, his work clouds them, raising more questions and doubt than answers. – J. Carmona
This mural was on Le Patro, a recreation centre on Cobourg Street. The image grew out of a workshop for young people held on the theme of love: home, mothers, flowers, birds and music were discussed. The artist, Alejandro Dorda Mevs, incorporated these love symbols into the silhouette of a weapon in order to disable it. It is the imagination, hope, creativity and love of the children of Le Patro that destroy the violence of the gun, and give us hope for the future. The trigger is part of a musical instrument, the gun scope is a crayon, the barrel is filled with birds and flowers, MOMMY is painted across the casing, the bullet clip is a chocolate bar and a candy cane forms the lower bottom part of the barrel. Meanwhile, the background silhouette of the original gun reminds us that there will always be guns in need of transforming by love.
The children of Le Patro understood, as you can see. Unfortunately, a few philistines who saw only a gun, and not the messages of love overcoming evil, had their way. The mural was destroyed by city staff a few days after it was completed. This photo was taken by the artist at the time of painting.
THE MURAL PROJECT & DIALOGUE:
Dear Mr. Void,
it has come to our attention (via Guy Bérubé) that you may be looking for a public mural space in Ottawa during your upcoming visit to our city and we have an offer…
We are writing to you from Le Patro d’Ottawa, a french language community centre located in the heart of Lowertown known to us as la Basse ville. (we are located approx. 10 minutes from La petite mort)
Although the centre has deep roots with the catholic community, it serves and adapts very well to changing demographics of the neighborhood, wether cultural, orientation, religious or generational changes. There is a wide variety of users: youths (5 to 17 years old), adults, the elderlyand persons with physical or mentals disabilities.
Throughout the years, the mission and values have remained the same: respect and inclusion of all faiths, cultures, orientations and generations, provinding space for social and funding activities, sports and courses. Sometimes the centre struggles in trying to counter outside negative influences. The neighborhood does have a reputation, pushers and dealers are a common site, many families are on welfare.
And as such, there is frankly some un-ease with your work, we wonder if our context and audience would be a good fit for your work, we wonder if your themes would be too hard for our community to understand, to accept, we also wonder if a mural could be an image of inclusion, of community, of vision and of hope. We also recognize your talents, we understand that different audiences need different dialogues, we are not looking for a mirror of our community but for a vision for it, we also understand that constraints and restraints are not part of our mission and we would not want to impose censorship on any artist, but yet we wonder …
We offer to break new ground, we offer to open a dialogue with you, we offer you space, a mural, we offer a helping hand (youths, elderly, etc..) we have little funding but could provide paint and materials perhaps.
If this offer is well received, we would need to discuss an arangement.
How much funding would you need?
How much time would you need?
How many people? and what ages?
Which mural (or murals)
What date and time?
What would be your artistic vision?
What would be your plan ? what do you propose?
Photo1: semi-basement area , entire wall
Photo2 and photo3: second level corridor near the gyms.
Photo4: outside mural near main entrance
Photostairs: second floor stairs Imural would be on window panels), visible above main entrance and parking.
Sylvain Després (friend of Le Patro d’Ottawa and writing to you on behalf of the Director of the centre Denis Bedard)
It does sound nice, I appreciate you writting me.
I am not a very religious person, although I can be at some point, I guess I just dont know. Any how I do like social enviroments and I would be happy to do a mural there. I would like to do some type of workshop where people from all ages would write on the wall with perhaps 4 or 5 different colors but not mixing them and I would paint a big image over that with black respecting most of the writting. My problem is that I will only have one day to paint. this would be the 27th. because on the 28th I will have to go to Montreal.
Is this possible?
My conditions are, if this is an non profit organization, meaning that no one in the organization is getting payed in any way I would be happy to do this worshop/mural for free. But if its not the case I would charge a minimum of 100 dolars.
Materials shouldnt be to much it depends on what mural we do. The only expensive thing might be the black becuse I need this to be spray can. It wont look graffiti like at all, I use the spray can to do some tipe of old etching effect because. The rest of the paint should be just normal wall paint. So to make it cheep perhaps just buy white paint and different tints of 4 colours like blue, green, orange, and yelow and separately it would be nice to get pure red (this might cost a bit more, if not we can just get red tint and make pink with the white). I think the outside wall would be the best for this.
Let me know if you are interested and ill think of a theme and we will be in tocuh…
Good day to you.
Thank you for your message. We have received your info and we are currently verifying to see which groups of youths are available for wednesday july 27th. Usually wednesdays, the youths leave the community centre for a planned road trip so we must confirm beforehand if there are any youths at the centre that day. We will have an answer by friday at the latest.
No problem for the paint and fee of $100. (we are non profit but some employees receive salaries).
I will get back to you asap, thank you and ;let us know of your ideas or themes when you have a chance.
PS. I am also non-religious, I am an atheist, but I do have spirituality….most of the time…:)
Thank you again, talk to you soon. For emergencies, please contact my cell.
Well Ive been thinking. There are two possibilities.
Perhaps I will have more time, but its not yet confirmed. If it is I could do it on thursday.
If not we could do it with out the kids.
My idea is, doing a workshop about love. This could sound cheesy but I would like to explain all the different points of view in love. From the religious (christian, muslim, buddhism etc…), with in family, sexuality and procreation and the cientific explanation for love, and pleasure, meaning the different chemicals that are segregated to produce this feeling. So a positivist point of view as well. Any how, the idea for the mural would be to ask the kids to describe objects that remind them to some way of love, from simbols to marshmelos. Anything they can come up with but explaning why. And with that I would paint big gun across the wall but made of these things that they mentioned. So basicly the idea would be making a “love weapon”, a sarcastic way of representing something that man made to kill but fliping its use. Also comparing its power. I thought of this because of what happened in oslo, so I guess I would put some reference to that in the mural.
The way we can do this if I cant stay on thursday, would be with you starting the work shop with out me and explaining this to the kids, have them do a drawing each of there love object and then I would select a few of them from what i would make the gun.
Also if you want you could start painting the wall with pastel colours, witch was my original idea. For them to write on the wall with out crossing eachother and leaving a mage between eachothers frase and I would use this as a backround. I would explane you how to do this better if we decided to do that.
Forguive my spelling, left the states when I was three and never got to perfeccione it.
Let me know what you think.
Sounds very interesting Alex, I will discuss with Denis (CCommunity centre Director) and get back very soon…..
Hi Alex. I have discussed with the centre. I will have access to the kids tomorrow (tuesday) between 2 and 4 pm. I could do a workshop with them to gather images/drawings that they think represents love and we could pass them to you for your work to use in the “weapon of love”. Also, if you want us to prepare the murale we will need more specific details such as color choices, size of murale, etc…Let me know what you think. Perhaps Guy could help with some tarp to protect the sidewalk…