• April 23, 2003
  • Posted by Marc

Influenza / The VitalsAge: 64

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Influenza / The Vitals



Age: 64
(pfww, how time flies..only one year to go for my retirement. Hardly can’t wait
anymore)
Hometown: born in Paramaribo, Suriname.
Where do
you now live?:
operating headquarters in Paris and Rotterdam
How
long have you been creating street art?:
  My first shit in public when I was
5 years old. In a way since then I never stopped.
What did you do last
night?:
Is it last night already?: Feels like two weeks ago!
What is
your favorite thing to eat for dinner?:
Dead beasts and plants are my
favorites. Plastics on third place.
Who is your favorite fictional
character?:
Suppose it would be Influenzahaha, although he is not really
funny.  “And Anansi the
spider
”, he spoke.
What do you currently have in your pockets?:
The second haha.
If you were given “more time,” what would you do with
it?:
Continue playing the streets in all kinds of forms.
Who do you
love?: 
The famous Simon Ticker, the surinam inventor of the glue that
keeps pirate-messages on our city’s walls and of course my girlfriend. Or else
she beats me again.. “and Anansi the spider”, he spoke again.

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Influenza- The A’s to Our Q’s:


Wooster: How did you get started in creating art for
the street?

Influenza: In the early and mid 80’s I painted
the streets in the capital of Suriname where I was born. Decided to build in a
pause after a while, that soon became a pause for years. Only after my artschool
in the Netherlands I picked up the glove again and got instantly hooked. But
this time I decided to do it not as before, just putting my name in calligraphic
styles, but try to play more with the viewer, some interaction and little hiding
spots etc. Stickers where perfect for my experiments. Also I re-disovered the
classical white latex-bucket again, using it to put some look-a-like political
paintings on the walls again. It took a while, but when I discovered the effect
my playings had on others I was definitely addicted for life!

/>Wooster: Why Influenza?

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"left">Influenza: It sounded like the right mixture between a
healthproblem (the sharing caracter of a viral disease attracted me very much),
and influence in general. I think without interaction there is no sence in
trying to make art anyway. In a way I like to put the influenza-operations in
the streets as a child disease. You have to get it at younger age to get
resistant to similar shit later…as they say.  Then again in the end, using a
name like Cholera sounded a bit to overdone to me too I must admit.
But
seriously, it more or less grew slowly to become my name. At first it was only
the title for the legal and less legal actions I did in public space. Only later
other people thought it was the name of the guy doing it. In artspaces I show
stuff too, but there it is more clear cause it is a title of a work with my
normal name under it (..cops don’t go to artspaces anyway).

/>Wooster: What other street artists do you most admire and why?
/>
Influenza: I don’t have a list in my pocket but there are a lot
of art-classics I really like and see as inspiration. Works from artists doing
things already in the 50’s and 60’s. I found out that the first sticker ever was
even put before the second world war by Kurt Schwieters! Or some of the works href= "http://www.columbia.edu/cu/museo/orozco/index.html">Gabriel Orozco
did. As simple as effective the way he plays with public space, just makes a
snapshot and that’s it.  But I must say I don’t really have favourite artists,
just a lot of good works that where being realised already.  Admiration I have
for all artists that try to be free and independent, keeping their work and
mentality as pure as they can from commercial stuff. I really can’t stand the
flirting and later selling out some do with the advertising and fashion
industry. The stuff we do in the streets was always free and un-polluted non-
commercial.  I really love to see that some (and sadly enough always too little)
manage to keep clean from the money-bizz with their stuff. Its okay when folks
try to make a buck, don’t get me wrong, but when I see a guy like Shepard Fairy
totally exploiting his ‘anti-commercial statement’ as he does…it makes me sad to
see that cynisism. He used to be a giant and now just becomes a guy running a
crappy design-company that feeds the consumer scate-hype of this moment, in an
ambition to become a sort of mickey mouse of street art… forget it. In short: I
admire people that fight cynisism with optimism.

Wooster:
What’s your favorite city, neighborhood, or block, to post and/or to see
street art?

Influenza: I love to travel loaded with material.
I don’t really care where to, as long as there are people living there, in
buildings with some stickable surface. Berlin will do, or Paris, Eindhoven or
London, but any smaller city or even a town is perfect too. Keeping it local is
the most important thing in what we do anyway I think. It has to be honest one
on one-handwork to make the difference with parasital pseudo-cool institutions
(Sony, Nike, Diesel etc.) that needs to steal our energy and creativity to make
their profits and walk away in legality. But to come back on your question, of
course Rotterdam is still one of my top favourites.

Wooster:

What inspires you now?

Influenza: Wars in general and this
fucked up monsters in the white house more specific. It’s amazing what people
can do with power-institutions and lack of respect for others, that comes
automatically with that.

Wooster: What are you currently
working on?  Can you give us a sneak peek?

Influenza: "http://aouw.org">‘The Art of Urban Warfare’ is a project I am working on
right now. It’s a open collective project that is being build to decorate our
cities together with others, connected around the globe. Soldier-shapes are
sprayed in the walls in 3 colours only - green, blue or brown. Every participant
chooses one of these colours and gets buzzy in his streets, claiming his/her
turf. I already had some amazing battles with others. Because of the colour-
limitations and the fact that its done just with stencils, there is hardly any
individual handwriting but only the shape of the game itself. Its played
anonymously but when you discover other soldiers in your town, done by somebody
else you don’t know, it’s an amazing thrill. Every can join in and it’s great to
see and hear more people do all around. 

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