2&6 Journalist: Chris Kelly
Photos: Courtesy of Pow! Wow!
Over the course of the next week ( 6th – 13th September), an expertly curated selection of the best Graffiti & Street Artists in the Netherlands will be making the pilgrimage to Rotterdam in order to bomb the walls of the legendary Street Art Festival, POW! WOW! . The festival began back in 2011 when founder and artist Jasper Wong decided to celebrate the global street art movement by hosting the first edition of POW! WOW! on the shores of his native state of Hawaii. Today, Pow! Wow! has evolved into an internationally beloved and respected mecca for street art fans from across the world, no small part of which is down to the success of Dave & his team who took it upon themselves to bring the magic of Pow! Wow! to a European audience for the first time.
The success of POW! WOW! is no surprise to us as the organisational team have made it their explicit purpose to honor the history & culture of Graffiti and street art in its entirety, staying true to the underground roots and back-alley atmosphere that makes the culture what it is. Yet partnerships with Montana Cans, Monster, RSCW & Picto Right Fonds have elevated the event into a full fledged festival of international importance without loosing the street credit brought by the illusive and legendary artists creating live for your pleasure all week.
FOR OR INTERVIEW WITH POW! WOW! COORDINATOR DAVE…… PLEASE SCROLL DOWN
What can i expect & who is painting ?
This years festival comprises of three main sectors: The Mural Tour, 20 Vans & 30 Cans and 55 x 5. The Mural Tour is the backbone of Pow! Wow! and the centerpiece of the festival since its conception. The premise is simple: 16 of the the most talented and celebrated artists in the Netherlands will be painting huge original murals on a designated wall across Rotterdam throughout the week, live and direct. The best way to see all of the artists and learn a little about each one is to book onto one of the fee guided tours conducted by the legends over at Rewriters010.
Next up is 20 vans & 30 cans, a golden oldie on the Pow! Wow! rooster and certainly a crowd favorite after it stole the show at last years festival. If your a wandering wayfarer who finds themselves daydreaming of cruising through Scandinavia in a pimped out van, firstly…join the club & secondly make sure you stop by this section. This open air exhibition will showcase the creations of artists like Roy Schreuder, Andre HZS, Page 33 & Rob worst as they transform 20 vans and cars into mobile murals only they could conceptualize.
Lastly we have the newest edition to the POW! WOW! line up, 5 x 55. 5 artists, 55 cans of Montana’s finest & 5 days to bring life to 5 derelict zones in the Afrikaanderwijk. This is a highly anticipated event as each artist will be transforming there designated zone into a unique world of color and creativity. I’ve got to be honest, with the exception of knowing that its going to be fucking epic, i dont have a clue what to expect from this one… guess your just going to have to go look for yourself.
2&6 Top 3 artists to look out for:
I AM FAKE
Janis De Man
An Interview with Pow! Wow! Coordinator Dave
First and foremost mate, congratulations on getting to this point, i’m sure it must have been extremely challenging trying to organise such a large scale event during this nightmare of a year. Was it looking like POW! WOW! 2020 was going to be lost to the annals of corona history or where you always pretty certain that the event would go through?
“To be honest we always remained extremely positive about our chances of getting it done. When it really kicked of in March i said to the crew we have to continue but we have to make sure we think of and prepare for every scenario possible. We sat down and came up with an A to F list of back up plans, from an ultra minimalist festival to a maximum capacity festival. We were always working in collaboration with local officials to stay informed and brace ourselves. In April we had a full line up of international artists ready to book flights for but around mid May we had to make the call to play it safe and take this opportunity to make something positive out of this and continue by only working with Dutch based and local street artists. That way we can showcase the huge variety of talent on offer just in the Netherlands, shining a light on what we have to offer the global street art community.”
I think its a really impressive way to adapt to the situation. As you said there is such an array of styles and creativity in the Netherlands alone than often gets lost among the huge pool of international artist. How did Pow! Wow! Rotterdam come about and what relationship does it have to the original Pow! Wow! in Hawaii?
“So in 2016 we won a prize from the Rotterdam arts council to develop a street art concept in the city. When we were told that we had won a prize we were obviously extremely excited but we actually had no idea what exactly it was that we had won! Then it turned out to be a trip to Hawaii which was crazy. We were stood at POW! WOW! Hawaii, in paradise on earth, essentially networking and said to each other that Rotterdam needs this…lets do it! We really wanted Rotterdam to be the first European city to host this so we worked really hard to get that done. Two years later we hosted the first ever European Pow! Wow!.”
“It took a lot of convincing as many people had approached and asked to take Pow! Wow! to there home city but really had no experience organising any events. Naturally the founders were protective over there baby. So when we hosted the first one we invited some of the original founders of the Hawaii chapter over to come and see or work. When we picked them up at the airport they thought they were here to organised the whole festival, so they were pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be finished and waiting for them to see it upon there arrival. I think he thought he was going to have to work his ass off, but we had organised the whole thing in 8 weeks flat.”
How will this year be different to any previous POW! WOW! due to the challenges that Corona presents?
“Normally all the murals are created over the week and then on the final Sunday they are unveiled alongside the music festival that we typically arrange. Now this year you can visit at any time and guide yourself round using our App and see the whole process unfold. Of course on the last Sunday we will still have a few more activities going on in the park but its much more focused on the artwork and the community feeling around it, whilst keeping everybody safe. We dont have a music stage or a party area anymore so beyond the Food & Drink area the whole park will be an open exhibition for the 20 artists working on the 20 Vans 30 Cans.”
How did the 20 Vans & 30 cans idea come about?
“We have a small team and everyone is very creative. So one day we were just chatting and the light bulb went off and we thought it was such a cool idea that we just couldn’t let it slide. The first year it was so popular, after a few hours there was a huge party going on there thanks to the music provided by move around sound, this awesome music collective of DJ’s that transformed there bikes into a moving sound system. We are working with them this year again so they will be providing the vibes. All the van owners had pulled out there chairs and everyone was eating and drinking, it was festival-ception, a festival within a festival! This year we have an incredible line up or artists ready and waiting to paint and some crazy unusual vehicles for them to do there magic on.”
What was the selection process for the artists? I’m imaging a huge table in a dark smoke filled room littered with photos of tags and murals.
“Hahah essentially yes. Everyone on the team has a huge wishlist of artists that they have dreamed to get on board. Daniel is our artistic director so he really gets the final call but we also have huge amounts of artists who reach out to s asking to get involved which we obviously always want to facilitate. But the result this year is an incredible line up, potentially one of our best considering there are no international artist this year.”
Notes from the Editor
Pow! Wow! 2020 is undoubtedly going to be the best week of the year. Not that that is saying much in the context of this shit storm of a year, but that may be exactly the point. We need this festival, not just us graffiti artists or underground enthusiasts but us as residents and creators of the Netherlands. We need some colour, creativity and excitment brought into our live and that’s exctly what the angels in the production team of Pow! Wow! have arranged for us. We will be releasing 2 more articles during the course of Pow! Wow!: One will be a continuation of my interview with David as we had such a detailed and interesting convocation we will break it into two articles. Within this we will also be talking about Rotterdam Street Culture Week as a whole and highlighting some of our must see parts of the festival. Then as we will be sending a full squad of journalists & photographers to the festival to interview all the artists , we will release a Pow! Wow! in review towards the end of the week with a collection of our best photos and interviews. If you come down to the festival, keep an eye out for us in or 2&6 t-shirst’s & please stop s to stay hi!!!!