THE BLOG
07/29/2015 10:07 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

WALL\THERAPY 2015: Surrealism and the Fantastic

Surreal is the way the world is portrayed across all of our devices today.

It may be the shrinking staff and budgets of newsrooms who are veering ever closer to the sensational, or simply the yellow journalism and the PR-planted hyperbole that is rushing to fill the vacuum, but the presentation of our own world is becoming outlandish.

Orwell could have seen this time when war is described as a peace effort, oligarchy is called democracy and Reality TV is anything but. Combined with rapid technological developments that produce outcomes previously only imagined, we may feel like our grip on the genuine is definitely loosening somewhat.

So fitting it is that a mid-sized U.S. city hosts a mural festival celebrating the surreal and the fantastic in 2015.

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Brittany Williams. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We don't know for sure if it was our current funhouse mirror atmosphere that drove the Wall\Therapy festival in Rochester, NY to choose this years' themes. It may simply be a way of organizing artists whose work reflects these notions back to us and to illuminate one specific growing trend in street culture and murals.

Surely Magritte, Dali and Ernst would be very pleased by the uptick of modern surrealists and practitioners of the bizarre, fantastical, and dream-like in galleries, in the public sphere, and throughout popular culture in recent years.

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Brittany Williams. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

In partnership and as a cultural exchange with Berlin's Urban Nation (UN) this year, Wall\Therapy 2015 curated this selection of international and local street artists who bring doorways and mirrors for you to step through.

We were glad to be there in person this year and relieved to see that this largely homespun venture continues to be strong and community-minded despite the very hard work that it requires to pull it off. In the face of a rapidly commercializing Street Art festival scene, not only is the grassroots rather refreshing, it is a bit surreal.

Without doubt it is fantastic.

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Brittany Williams. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jeff Soto. Maxx242. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Classic graffiti style from NYC's Daze has always contained elements of surreality. In his three walls he sampled even more styles." So I used a lot of influences -- photo-realistic, almost cubist, there is some lettering, window panes as metaphor. I was also thinking about fabric and the way it folds, and it turned into water," he says. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Daze. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Daze. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Vexta. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Vexta: I've been doing a lot of collage as my source material - birds, abstract plant shapes, and the galaxy painted over.
BSA: She's like an earth mother, or universal mother
Vexta: She is every woman.

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Vexta. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Vexta. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Andreas Englund's mural features his superhero vexed by a stone in his boot. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Andreas Englund. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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NeverCrew's Christian Rebecchi and Pablo Togni created a whale inside an ice whale. "We usually work with themes about the balance between humans and nature," says Togni, "In this situation we wanted to do a piece about the balance between the elements." Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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NeverCrew. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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NeverCrew. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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NeverCrew. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Handiedan. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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"She is sort of a goddess of East meets West," says Amsterdam's Handiedan. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nate Hodge. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nate Hodge. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nate Hodge. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Onur . Wes21. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Onur. Wes21. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Onur. Wes21. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A highly detailed original sketch that is culled from photographs and their own staging of a model in boots, Onur and Wes21 spent many long hours into a few nights to complete their wall.
Onur: It is more of a scene than a classical mural. The wall is perfect for something like this.
BSA: So it is nature taking a bite out of its aggressor
Onur: Yes, kind of. That's not bad. We have a sign that says beware of beaver crossing. The animals are a metaphor for something else and we are always looking for stuff like this when we are on the streets.

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Onur. Wes21. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jason Wilder Courtesy of Wall Therapy)

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Li-Hill. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Li-Hill. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Li-Hill. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Matt Roberts . Joe Guy. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

"We knew we had a week and we thought 'what can we accomplish?'" says Rochester local Matt Roberts on a break from his wall with Joe Guy Allard. "I do monsters all the time and Joe does those robots. It's a big old fight scene. I mean, who doesn't want destruction, some mahem? I grew up on Godzilla movies and Ultraman, stuff like that. Just a lot of B-horror. I'm really into it. The new Godzilla movie is like my Crème Brulee."

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Matt Roberts . Joe Guy. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Matt Roberts . Joe Guy. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Eder Muniz. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Eder Muniz. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Eder Muniz. Wall Therapy 2015. Rochester, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Our deep gratitude to the Wall\Therapy Family; Ian Wilson and Erich Lehman for their invitation to participate at this edition, and to Yasha Young, director of Urban Nation and this year's co-curator. To the artists for sharing their talent with us in such a public and generous way. To all of the volunteers including Jason Barber and Maureen Malone for their sincere dedication and attention to detail and to the production team for making certain we all had what we needed and for making our job far easier. To the photographers for sharing their work with us throughout the process. To Jonathan Binstock, Director of the Memorial Art Gallery at The University of Rochester for hosting our BSA Film Friday Live event and to Meg Colombo and Mike Besaw at MAG for helping us with everything we asked for and then more. To the city of Rochester.

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