Roskilde: Paint for music!

The curated graffiti exhibition at Roskilde Festival is one of the biggest in the world. It brings artists from all around the globe to paint the walls of the festival area. Local and up and coming artists get to share a week with renowned artists.

ROSKILDE Roskilde Festival has been creating a trend for the last 10 years: moving away from being just a music festival to become a experiences fountain. While they know that music draws the majority of its audience, new experiences are developed continuously. That does not mean music is left behind. This year they have managed to put up an amazing line-up: Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Deftones, and Kasabian have filled up the main stage. Other quality acts filled up the other stages and left for little free time in between concerts. In any case, attendees could enjoy three embedded festivals in the festival: a great food court, a garden full of modern art installations, and more than a kilometer of walls covered in graffiti.

Every year hundreds of artists submit their work to get a chance to paint some of the walls. Competition is fierce for this volunteer job and Lars Pedersen is the man in charge of making the selection as the graffiti curator of the Roskilde festival. We got to talk to him during the festival and he kindly explained the bright ideas behind some of the graffitis.

None of the artists gets paid, they get similar perks than all the other 31,000 volunteers that make the festival possible: sleeping facilities, meals, drinks and a festival ticket. All that sounds like a good deal, but artists have come from more than 30 countries of all the continents, meaning that the guy who came from Oceania paid his own airfare.

Lars walked us through the festival to give us a demonstration of the walls and what the artists have painted. He has been involved in the event for more than 15 years and oozes excitement when talking about the graffitis, even if his voice is a bit off after having hosted the artists at a late-night party the previous day.

In the tour, one of the first names we got to discover was Rasko, a Russian graffiti artist that has got an immense social media following, with more than 35,000 likes in Facebook, even if he has never left Russia before this Roskilde Festival. I wonder if we will see his art in the new buildings arising in Joensuu and Kuopio.

Other highlight, as considered by Lars and others, was the work of Pref, an English lad with a peculiar graffiti style. He likes to layer different words together using shapes, colours and textures. While previously he has composed small sentences like “Step in the arena”, for Roskilde he outdid himself and composed a graffiti with 13 words: “it is not about how you work, its all about how you play”. You have to check the image in the article’s gallery and start deciphering the letters one by one to understand it.

Every year the prime graffiti is the one located in the grand stand, facing the main stage. There, a wall of 130 meters is painted by one artist. This time, and for the first time, the artist is Danish: HuskMitNavn, or RememberMyName in English. The graffiti presents the famous naked raced that we covered elsewhere. The graffiti took more than 2 days to paint and includes 52 figures, most of them racing to the finish line. HuskMitNavn was already invited to paint in Roskilde many years ago, when nobody remembered his name. Now, as an established artist, they will.

In a festival where everything gets recycled, similar fate awaits the graffiti walls. The wooden planks are stored away during the year, and come the next festival they are painted in black, ready for the colourful expressions of old and young artist.

More graffiti in Roskilde.

Graffitis from Rasko, Pref, Kristian von Hornsleth and others