By John Fuller, 15 March 2015
Documentary production 27 minutes
Torino or Turin (as Westerners call it), is a city in North West Italy of approximately 1 million people. It is probably best known as an industrial centre and the home of FIAT, Lancia and various other automotive brands. These industrial origins are reflected in much of the architecture, which is far removed from the more classical Italian cityscapes further south. Turin is a city which reflects the industry to which it owes its reputation.
It is perhaps no surprise then that the city has chosen to establish a mural art festival, murals being such an effective foil for the harsh colourless geometries of factories and apartment blocks. “Picturin” is a half hour production documenting the inaugural Torino Mural Arts Festival. This project was the first full collaboration between mural/street artists and local government, the later providing the canvas in the form of public buildings and spaces. The film follows the artists as they undertake ten large mural projects. They speak candidly about their work, their philosophies, dealings with the community and the authorities, with whom they all have had tempestuous relationships in the past. Most of them have had scrapes with the law and one even had to have his face obscured, presumably to hide his identity. What is interesting here is how many of these people have risen from being criminal graffiti artists, hanging out in alleyways, to become respected practitioners with international reputations for their work. It is also very enlightening to see them collaborating, which appears to be a common characteristic of large scale mural art.
Picturin is fast paced, visually interesting and refreshing in the way it interacts with the artists very much on their own terms i.e. at work and impromptu, almost in an improvised manner. It’s a clever mix of professional film making with a very natural, almost home movie like series of short monologues. The editing plays on this really effectively by leaving the clips open ended, or cutting them mid-point. The artwork itself is filmed as it is being created, quite often from cherry pickers or high vantage points to emphasise its scale.
In terms of my own practice, I found the interaction between the artists fascinating. In some instances they had only met days before, yet they were working to bring ideas and concepts together into cohesive works in very short time frames. In one case two of the artists did not even share the same language, yet they were able to collaborate effectively. Cleverly the organisers also invited local students and budding mural artists to assist, which ensures an element of ownership by the local community. I would certainly recommend Picturin to anyone with an interest in large scale community mural art.