Gay marriage and ‘democracy on the walls of the city’

Gay marriage and street art joined hands over the weekend thanks to French street-artist, Kashink, who produced a phenomenal mural at the Canal St Martin in support of proposed new equality laws.

Meanwhile, yesterday, up  to 150,000 marched on the Bastille in support of legalising marriage and adoption for same-sex couples, in advance of the new liberalisation measures proposed by President Francois Hollande’s new Socialist government, to be decided upon by the French National Assembly on the 29th January.

Alternative Paris, Contributing Editor, Fernanda Hinke, met Kashink and interviewed her on gay marriage and street art, while Richard Beban, photographer and co-editor of the online journal, Paris Play, captured the demonstration.

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Paris, yesterday, saw more than 60,000 protesters marching in support of gay marriage and the right to adopt children by couples of the same gender.  This heated discussion will go to the Assemblée nationale (French Parliament) in January, and with the new legislation facing strong opposition from right-wing politicians and France’s powerful religious factions, it’s not certain whether the proposals will be enacted or not.

Rather than sit and wait to see what our so-called leaders decide, however, Kashink has taken things into her own hands, and used the power of the spray can to shout out what many people are taking too long to recognise. I find it fantastic that street art can put the cards on the table and open up dialogue on this debate in such a way. I call it, ‘democracy, on the walls of the city’!

- Fernanda Hinke, Contributing Editor

Gay marriage France - Paris street artist Kashink mural at Canal Saint-Martin. Photo: Fernanda Hinke (1)

 

Gay marriage France - Paris street artist Kashink mural at Canal Saint-Martin. Photo: Fernanda Hinke (2)

 

Gay marriage France - Paris street artist Kashink mural at Canal Saint-Martin. Photo: Fernanda Hinke (5)

 

Gay marriage France - Paris street artist Kashink mural at Canal Saint-Martin. Photo: Fernanda Hinke (3)

 

Gay marriage France - Paris street artist Kashink mural at Canal Saint-Martin. Photo: Fernanda Hinke (4)

What is your intention by painting this mural on gay marriage?

I’ve already painted gay characters before, and this time I thought it could be a fun idea to paint a very big wall about gay marriage, since it’s been a very hot topic in France lately.

I had noticed this wall before, because of its size (6 x 15 m, around 20 x 50 ft.) and visibility. Some other guys had painted the whole thing before and it’s pretty challenging.  French President, François Hollande, during his election campaign, promised he would legalise gay marriage. Then when it was time to take a decision, he chickened out.  Then people started protesting against gay marriage. I was horrified to see how the hate and violence started to spread, so I felt it was neccesary to make a gesture in support of these equality measures

France is at the forefront of the street art movement, while at the same time it is behind several countries in terms of same-gender marriage. What is your opinion about this?

France can be old school sometimes, especially when it comes to issues involving religion. Our country is supposed to be all about secularism, and while Spain is a lot more catholic than we are, gay marriage has been legal there for seven years. Also, street art hasn’t always been well accepted here either, but this has changed in the past four years or so. Now everybody is starting to become interested.

Gay marriage demo Paris. Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012 (10)

Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012

How do you think street art can help change society’s values?

As a street artist, I always try to put a message in what I do. Maybe some people will relate to it, some maybe not, you never know.  What I know, however, is that street-art is partly rooted in protest (anarcho-punk stencils, etc.), and I like the idea of keeping it that way.  The characters I paint are very colorful and sometimes they look like they could be coming out of a children’s book. So I guess it’s easier because the whole thing looks fun.

For this particular piece, I wanted to create an emphasise on romance. These two characters look happy, but they’re also a little shy. I wanted them to be cute.  Most people that passed by or watched me paint responded very well to the message.  I really hope that soon legalised gay marriage will be as accepted as women’s right to vote.

Gay marriage demo Paris. Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012 (4)

 Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012

Did you have the intention of linking this painting with the demonstration this Sunday in Paris?

Yes, I started working on it on Wednesday, came back on Thurdsday, and finished it Saturday. It was a real challenge for me to make it on time, because I knew that the protest was on Sunday.  The wall wasn’t on the protesters’ route but it was my contribution. I heard there was more than 50, 000 people demonstrating this afternoon, I really hope our government will have the balls to keep their promises.

Gay marriage demo Paris. Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012 (9)

 Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012

Gay marriage demo Paris. Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012 (21)

 Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012

Gay marriage demo Paris. Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012 (2)

 Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012

Gay marriage demo Paris. Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012 (6)

 Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012

Gay marriage demo Paris. Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012 (5)

 Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012

Gay marriage demo Paris. Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012 (20)

 Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012

Gay marriage demo Paris. Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012 (16)

 Photo: Richard Beban and Paris Play copyright 2012

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Alternative Paris.

Kashink paints Le M.U.R. and the Parisian autumn starts

Women being rare in the street art world, yesterday, and the beginning of my first Parisian autumn, to mark the occasion I went to Le M.U.R. (Association Le Modulable Urbain Reactif) - the Parisian art project which revolves around a three by eight metre billboard set aside by the city council for the purpose of promoting street art -  to see French street artist Kashink’s performance.

Kashink Le M.U.R. urban art, Paris - Oberkampf - Alternative Paris. Photo: Fernanda Schweichler (3)

Kashink Le M.U.R. urban art, Paris - Oberkampf - Alternative Paris. Photo: Fernanda Schweichler (9)

Wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the work of Jean-Michel-Basquiat and a faux moustache above her delicate lips, Kashink distributed sincere smiles to an appreciative audience gathered at the wall in Paris 11th arrondissement, who watched her hands sliding around holding spray cans, drawing with sweet colours her unmistakable characters.

Kashink paints huge protean figures with multiple eyes, men mostly, or Mexican skulls, all in a colourful graphic style, away from traditional references to female graffiti. Inspired by Frida Kahlo and the “Bad Painting” of Basquiat and Keith Haring, among the themes that are usual to her, these include taboo subjects, such as homosexuality, the status of women, and death.

The number thirteen can be seen in her Le M.U.R., representing the character’s third eye, and is also Kashink’s lucky number, she explained me. Also seen is the phrase, “Okay Mom I will”, which relates to a mum’s concerns with her son and his response being boring, but positive.  What she really likes is for people to look at her drawings and feel stimulated to create their own meanings.

Kashink Le M.U.R. urban art, Paris - Oberkampf - Alternative Paris. Photo: Fernanda Schweichler (8)

Kashink Le M.U.R. urban art, Paris - Oberkampf - Alternative Paris. Photo: Fernanda Schweichler (6)

Kashink Le M.U.R. urban art, Paris - Oberkampf - Alternative Paris. Photo: Fernanda Schweichler (2)

Le M.U.R. is always a good place to meet friends, special people, and to exchange ideas with other lovers of urban art. I guess Kashink painted the huge six by four metre panel in around eight hours, of which I enjoyed three hours, yesterday. However, after being chilled by the cold sensation of the autumn air, sadly, I left before she finished the work, but then I came back this morning to take pictures of the work.

Kashink Le M.U.R. urban art, Paris - Oberkampf - Alternative Paris. Photo: Fernanda Schweichler (5)

Kashink Le M.U.R. urban art, Paris - Oberkampf - Alternative Paris. Photo: Fernanda Schweichler (7)

Thanks to a beautiful surprise from the Universe this morning! While writing this article beside Le M.U.R. at the Café Charbon I met Kashink still working on her painting that was supposed to be finished yesterday. I had the pleasure to talk with her again and receive her explanation of the work. I asked her to sign my bike and as always, smiling, she gave me this beautiful gift. Thirteen thanks for the beautiful performance of Kashink!

Kashink Le M.U.R. urban art, Paris - Oberkampf - Alternative Paris. Photo: Fernanda Schweichler (10)