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September 14, 2004

{     Interview : ABOVE     }    

ABOVE is a 23 year old street activist from California. In his short life he has already accomplished more than yer average joe, and has no plans of stopping. His recent tour of 2/3rds of the US, hanging up his arrow mobiles in cities along the way has been getting him attention from unlikely sources (like the San Fransisco Examiner, and the Pittsburgh and Seattle Post newspapers.) He is a man on a mission, and I can say from experience he is also one cool motherfucker too. Looking to take over the world one city at a time, I spoke with ABOVE fresh from his most recent adventures.

Dustin:So you just took over, what, 15 cities in the past couple months? Can you list all the ground you covered this summer, and how you accomplished this? Living in California, it must be difficult to hang mobiles in Toronto and Cincinnati.

ABOVE: That's interesting actually that you say that about the cities. Last year when I was planning this whole "tour" for this summer, I had a solid list locked at 15 cities across and around the USA and Canada. I was successful in hanging the arrow mobiles in 13 cities and had to leave the other two cities mobile free for the time being. What happened was One my first leg of the tour I was up in the Northwest. I was intending to hang mobiles in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. Seattle and Portland went smoothly but I got denied access into Canada TWICE due to prior graffiti charges from five years ago. I was not having it and a day later tried crossing again, hoping that I would somehow slip through the cracks. Didn't work. Funny thing is 6 days later I was in Toronto. I got a hold of some friends back home and got the necessary paper work from my court cases showing that those old offenses have been dealt with. Once I had those in hand I was free to roam Canada. The other city I wanted to hang in was Montreal. From Toronto I drove up to Montreal for no more than 10 hours. I was on a fierce time limit and Montreal is a long distance from St. Louis and the bulk of the mid-west cities I had planned. So I got to Montreal and was unhappy with their lack of overhead wires in the Downtown area. I had a fun time speaking French again but had to pull up my anchor, count my losses and get back to the USA. As far as the cities I hung mobiles in on the Tour were: Seattle, Portland, Reno, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. I drove over 5500+ miles without one speeding ticket.

I must admit one of the hardest and most challenging situations on this whole tour was going to a city that I've never been before and basically set up shop on the spot. It is difficult with such time constraints to get a feel of any given city. About half of the cities on the tour I stayed in for less than 24 hours - then was off driving to the next city.

Did you have a favorite city? I know you spent a lot of time in Chicago.

There were cities I liked more than others, but honestly I enjoyed each one for different reasons. Every city had its beautifully ugly allure in some aspect or another. Chicago was a city that I simply ate up. I loved the city layout with its abundance of streaming overhead wires all over the city. The Downtown was full of potential overhead homes for the mobiles. I'd never been to Chicago before and I brought with me my wide eyes and preconceptions of what that city entailed. Despite how big and energetic Chicago is I was disappointed to not see more street actions from other people. Mayor Daly seems to be pretty effective in his "buff out Graffiti" campaign. A close second to Chicago was Toronto. The weather was nice, people were friendly, the Streets are alive and kicking with all types of creativity. Saw some great color in Toronto.

Where are you going next? Alaska? Hawaii?

Yeah Alaska would be fun. Imagine a mobile with icicles hanging from it... Don't get my imagination started! Actually I'm headed Back to Europe. I moved from Paris almost 2 years ago to the United States to breathe life into the concept and reality of these arrow mobiles. Having done what I just did on this tour I feel that I'm ready to continue the mobiles on a large, worldwide scale starting in Europe. I'm playing with the idea of doing another tour in the springtime before I leave on the East Coast, I'll feel it out as time gets closer. I already have ideas and concepts for the European style mobiles... should be interesting.

If you had to pick another shape... something other than an arrow, what would it be and why?

That is a really great question! Contradicting the straight lines that are needed for an arrow, I really like curves. Curves on a Woman, in Architecture, or in a street.
Curves give a lot of feel, and substance to its subject. When I was a child I was influenced by my Dad's designs with Sacred Geometry. I always enjoyed the shapes of several circles overlapping each other. the Vesica Pisces is the foundation, and starting point for this type of shape. To answer your question I'm not exactly sure as to what the shape would be but it would have a solid base rooted with circles juxtaposed next to each other. Why, Because the concept that with a circle there is not start or stopping point. The Shape is seamless and continuous. Our whole world and universe is dependent and organized on the principles of circles. We orbit the sun, and the Earth spins around in circles every moment in time. Circles are timeless.

Do you have any favorite contemporary artists? Are you involved in street art, or gallery/print type stuff? And I mean that on a personal level. What do you enjoy looking at the most?

I have an appreciation for all types of art. Yet, I'm not too hip to seeing Gallery works or Art shows right now in my life, maybe later but right now I have a deep affection for art that interacts with the streets and is in the public domain. It's hard to describe the feeling of seeing a creative piece of art becoming part of a city, or structure.
I got to where I am now through graffiti and I still very much so enjoy many writers styles. Graffiti people like Onorok, Percept, Blis, and O'clock to name a few. On that same token I respect all the freight monikers and train hoppers doing there thing. The Colosuss of Roads, and the Solo Artists put in so much dedication to monikers. Photography wise I like David LaChapelle and his vivid, and twisted imagination. Picasso for his variety of mediums, range and passion for creating as a whole. What holds a lot of value to me regardless of the type of work an artist does is the consistent appetite to create, more over subject their artwork in volatile situations and conditions like in the streets.

Final question, if someone gave you a million dollars, how would you spend it?

First I would thank the person for being so kind. After that, The first thing that came to my mind was my family. I would help support my brothers and family. After them that leaves me with about $150.00 dollars. I would buy some paint and supplies. So now we're left with about $2.99. Last I would spend the rest on Black Licorice. I can't seem to have enough of that chewy stuff. So all you sugar Momma's out there contact me through the website and lets go get some Licorice.

Thanks for your interest in the arrows. Keep your head up and breath life into your dreams.

    » View more of ABOVE's work at GOABOVE.COM.

- Contributed by Dustin Hostetler:


check out these newspaper write ups ABOVE has gotten in the past month:

from portland

from toronto

from sanfran

from seattle

from pittsburgh

Posted by: upso at September 6, 2004 7:28 PM

This is really odd for me. Since I moved to Pittsburgh a few months ago, I've been looking at one of his POKE FUN arrows everytime I cross this intersection on my way to my favorite movie store. Everytime I have found myself thinking what a great idea it is. Now I see this interview on Crown Dozen and I'm suddenly coming down with a case of Small World Syndrome. Good job.

Posted by: Eric at October 11, 2004 11:59 PM

this guys does't have respect from graffiti artist in europe...all graffiti and street art magazines critic him...this guy send for many magazines hundred mails and fotos with propozition of some kind of super star....effect is counterclokwise in many countries..check and ask true graffiti and street art magazines and crews...

Posted by: WARSAW POLAND at January 24, 2006 6:21 PM
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