The artists behind the French street art project 20,000 Lieues Sous Les Murs (20,000 Leagues Under The Walls) are all rather mysterious and information regarding the project is rather scarce and thin on the ground. What we do know, is that two artists going under the names Rö and Frëdae joined forces with the Souslesmurs Collective to partake in this French DIY street art project (read here an article titled New French Street Art Stars) with the aim of creating a skateboarding passage under some railway tracks and to install a mosaic art piece on a 40ft wall in said passage. (Check out this impressive mosaic work in the Hokusai Wave on Reichardt HQ – The Treatmentrooms video with Carrie Reichardt).
The Souslesmurs Collective was created in the suburbs of Paris from a neighbourhood of friends composed of street artists, photographers, videographers, illustrators and skaters dedicated to publishing their own fanzines and creating DIY projects such as building concrete skateparks (check out the article about Pure Evil and Kid Acne for zine inspired street artists, Pure Evil & Kid Acne at C.A.V.E. and the Agents Provocateurs at Subliminal Projects for an exhibition of work from some of the original US skate scene artists). Their projects relate to the context of living in an urban area and the idea of resistance to a system that sweeps such work away, with that in mind there are always political and historical contexts to the works they create (have a read of the When Graffiti Matters The Most: Middle East for similar themes).
For the 20,000 Lieues Sous Les Murs street art project, Souslesmurs Collective teamed up with artists Rö and Frëdae along with some mosaic artists to share their artistic worlds and the desire to highlight the beauty of mosaic work for this particular project (of course one has to mention French street artist Invader and the use of mosaic techniques to create his distinctive artworks, checkout the Stealing Invaders article). The theme of the mosaic was to be animals of the deep for this dark passage under the railway tracks as a metaphor for alternative currents and underground networks and involved the salvaging of materials when possible, fragments of slate, tiles recovered from Brittany that formed part of the whale image along with other materials, partly as a way of going against the traditional use of mosaic work as an archaic and restrictive practice that usually expressed wealth and power in the past (have a look at the Big Catch – Lonac video about Lonac’s use of recycled materials to create fish sculptures and how he explains that people are a mosaic of other people!). The resulting street art in 20,000 Leagues Under The Walls creates a dark world of sea monsters and creatures that underline the unfathomable dimensions of the place away from the sanitised world.
Explore more by visiting and watching a short film about the project on their tumblr page, Rö can be found on their street art page and check out the Souslesmurs site for some great looking publications.
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All images courtesy of Tristan Deplus and Souslemurs Collective.
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