The street art world is dominated by men. ‘Hands Off The Wall’ endeavours to change that, at least in Vienna. Female street artists have gathered around a street art festival to show their work, praise other women’s achievements and inspire girls to succeed. ‘Hands Off The Wall’ is Austria’s first street art and graffiti festival for women.
The mastermind of this initiative is the Viennese artist Chinagirl Tile, who teamed up with the top chef Friederike Seiler. When Seiler decided to open her fancy restaurant ‘What the Duck’ at the Ypenplatz in the diverse and multi-cultural neighbourhood of Ottaring, there was a need to integrate the restaurant in the creative local community.
Ypenplatz is a very lively square hosting a vibrant cultural and creative scene. An ‘Art for Everyone’ philosophy reigns here and is represented by the great Art Social Space Brunnenpassage. It is ‘a place where people from different backgrounds can meet and develop art projects together. It is based on the belief that access to art and culture is a human right. Art gives people an opportunity to define their identity and express themselves fully’.
Chinagirl Tile wanted female street artists to paint the walls of Seiler’s restaurant. It rarely happens that the top chef of a restaurant is a woman. So the outcome was obvious that she agreed to support the idea of Chinagirl Tile of organizing an entire female street art festival to celebrate together women in arts like Annatomix, Carrie Reichardt, Karen Francesca and Zabou. They also organized a ‘Local Heroines Paint Jam’ with the participation of sixteen Austrian artists.
Carrie Reichardt together with the artist Karen Francesca, both mosaic artists from the UK, created a complex design on the lower part of the restaurant’s wall, featuring the words: “I’M AN ARTIST YOUR RULES DON’T APPLY ”. ‘I feel obliged to say something through art and I personally advocate to raise awareness and praise women’s achievements’, explains Carrie Reichardt.
The artist Zabou painted the whole wall with the faces of three women: Villana (yarn artist, Mexico), Yara Shahidi (actress, model, USA) and Björk (singer, musician, Iceland).
These three successful women are portrayed holding hands together; a gesture which shows that they are together or bonded in some way. This confirmation of union among women painted at a public space by female artists sends a strong message to citizens.
Cities need more of those messages. However, initiatives at public spaces praising women are still rare in cities. In Munich a group of female artists painted an underpass, often a public space in cities where many women feel uneasy, to make it more inviting and friendly.
All these initiatives are not cosmetic measures, they do not serve anything tangible about the empowerment of women but, at least, they are a sign of a certain change of consciousness or of a kind of social pressure that forces us to do so. This is just the beginning.
The message at the ‘Hands Off The Wall’ Festival couldn’t have been any clearer. Women support women. I guess this is the only way forward.
Artists taking part in the Festival:
Roo, Annatomix, Carrie Reichardt, Chinagirle Tile, Zabou, Eternalmanila, ViViProduction, Pinkinspace, Flora Safari, 6xa, Nudlmonster, Cozy & Saul & ill-ya, Rapunze, Marveline, Rytual Wallace & Maria Gomez, Sarah Lumen Heine, Lym Moreno, City Crime, Maria Vermont, Karen Francesca