Take a Tour of Portuguese Street Artist Vhils’ Explosive New Exhibit at the CAC
Portuguese street artist Alexandre Farto, better known as Vhils, recently rigged a series of explosions in the Contemporary Arts Center. The resulting destruction was filmed in slow motion to create “Identity,” the installation that forms the centerpiece of his current exhibition Haze.
Vhils is famous for his use of implements like power drills, acid and explosives to carve monumental portraits on the side of buildings, such as his mural of John Mercer Langston on Over-the-Rhine’s Logan Street.
Haze, which runs through July 6, is the artist’s first large-scale exhibition in the United States. This is also the first time he and his team have used explosives inside a museum.
Vhils began incorporating explosives in his work after seeing the devastating effects of the global financial crisis in his home city of Lisbon, Portugal. He had already received international attention for his monumental bas-relief portraits, through which he sought to call attention to the struggles of working people. “I really try to capture the everyday hero,” Farto says. “We’re humanizing public space, and we’re creating a connection with everyone through the city without needing someone that is iconic or well-known.”
His method of carving into the walls shows how things build over time, unnoticed, like rings in the cross section of a tree, and how events like a global financial crisis leave their mark on the built environment. The blasts were his response to the economic violence this crisis had made visible.
Haze runs through July 6 at the Contemporary Arts Center (44 E. Sixth St., Downtown), despite its current closure. More info: cincycac.org. And read a full feature documenting the explosions at citybeat.com.| Photos by Kaityln Handel