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In Istanbul: The "Language Of The Wall," Street Art, and Graffiti

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"The Language Of The Wall. Graffiti / Street Art" Pera Museum. Istanbul, Turkey

No street artist is a prophet in his own land, to paraphrase the Latin "Nemo propheta in patria."

To see a large show of new street art in a museum right now don't think of New York. Surprisingly a vibrant and impactful art scene that has foundational roots in NYC streets and culture is once again celebrated more often by major museum exhibits elsewhere in the world.

In Istanbul they even invite you to paint on trains.

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With portraits by C215 of his daughter in the background, Evol moves his sculptures for his installation. Pera Museum. Istanbul, August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

The nine-year-old Pera Museum is currently hosting 20 artists from America, Germany, France, and Japan, along with some more local talents and is featuring photographers whose New York work is considered seminal such as Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, and the California skate culture documenter Hugh Holland.

The detailed study of New York graffiti, train writing, hip-hop culture, and the evolution that pushed this current explosive growth of Street Art are all evident in the curation and choices by Roxane Ayral. Language of the Wall is cognizant of the weight of graff history while looking squarely in the eye of the present and considering the interdisciplinary nature of today's scene, the show is at once expansive and tightly lyrical. The swath of new works inside the museum and out on the streets of Istanbul is a mix of respected older graff writers and some of the newer practitioners including Futura, Carlos Mare, Cope 2, Turbo, Wyne, JonOne, Tilt, Psyckoze, Craig Costello (aka KR), Herakut, Logan Hicks, C215, Suiko, Evol, Gaia, Tabone, Funk, and No More Lies.

Over the course of the installation, Martha Cooper traveled the city and captured the new works by the artists and she shares with us her shots and some of her observations.

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Parisian Street Artist C215 working on his stenciled installation outside. His daughter and frequent muse, Nina, on the street is assisting him. Istanbul, August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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C215. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Evol. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Evol working on an outdoor installation. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Carlos Mare (Mare 139) working on his installation. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

"Mare worked with a local foundry to produce 3 big welded sculptures and 2 little "B-Boy" ones," says Ms. Cooper. "The foundry was able to produce pieces of metal with Islamic patterns, which I found impressive. This was the first time Mare was able to design the metal in this way."

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Tilt. An assistant helps hang the truck as canvas. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

"Tilt painted a garbage truck with his iconic throwup," says Ms. Cooper, of the actual truck he painted on the street. "The garbage men gave him an official shirt to wear and he painted their names (and mine) on the truck. He also painted an entire bus that had been cut apart and hung on the wall of the museum."

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Tilt in action. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Tilt painted a garbage truck. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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No More Lies. His assistant and girlfriend, an artist named Merve Berkman, is shown here painting an intricate stencil. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Suiko working on his installation. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

"Suiko is from Hiroshima, Japan. We were in the museum on the anniversary of the bombing on August 16th," says Martha. A"Hiroshima, synonymous with nuclear bombs, now sells spray paint for graffiti bombing. Crazy world!"

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Suiko. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Herakut sits atop their outside installation. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

"Imagine you had to teach your kids never to laugh" is the translation of the text, which Martha says was Herakut's response to a Deputy Minister's outrageous statement that women shouldn't laugh in public.

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Herakut in action inside the Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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JonOne "came last and painted fast," says Martha. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Gaia in front of his installation. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Street artist Gaia did very labor intensive piece insides and outside the museum "commemorating those that have lost their lives in construction murders due to lack of safety, regulation and corruption," he says. For more information on Workers' Families In Pursuit of Justice please go to http://iscinayetleriniunutma.org/ .

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Gaia. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Gaia at work on his outdoor installation of workers helmets and Forget-Me-Not flowers. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Turbo in action. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Shoot To Kill . Turbo. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

"Turbo has the reputation of being one of Turkey's first writers. He's an archivist with many graff related collections (cans, markers, books etc). His crew is S2K--Shoot to Kill," says Ms. Cooper.

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Logan Hicks in action. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Logan Hicks photo-realistic stenciling on display in this outdoor installation. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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The New York legend Futura was one of the first graffiti writers to break new ground into abstraction, and more than 30 years after his first foray, is kicking it. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Mist in action. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

"Mist painted a bold abstract wall in the museum and numerous pieces outside," remarks photographer Cooper. "I liked his 'Mistanbul' piece the best."

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The Mist rolldown gate, "Mistanbul". Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Psyckoze. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

"Psyckoze is famous for being the king of the Paris catacombs. He knows every nook and cranny," reports Ms. Cooper. "I once spent the night there--scary and completely confusing if you don't have a guide. Psyckoze made an installation replicating a room in the catacombs reproducing paintings that were actually there."

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KR. Pera Museum. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

"KR did his extinguisher thing inside the museum and it turned out great--sort of a delicate blizzard of criss-crossing spray. I liked this shot of the cleaning lady in his room - Who's to decide what needs cleaning?" asks Martha.

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The action at the train yards. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

A highlight of the events was the opportunity for many of the artists to legally hit a number of train cars in the yards, and archetypal right of passage immortalized by a handful of New York photographers in the 1970s and 1980s like Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant, among others. Martha was at least as excited as the artists and felt like she was in a movie she had seen before, but with new enthusiastic actors and actresses - and without the fear of being arrested.

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Psyckoze at the train yards. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Suiko at the train yards. Istanbul. August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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A new classic by Martha Cooper of the action at the train yards. Istanbul, Turkey August 2014. (photo © Martha Cooper)

"Language Of The Wall Graffiti / Street Art" exhibition is currently on view at the Pera Museum in Istanbul, Turkey. The show closes on October 05, 2014. For more information click HERE

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