The unique, quirky and exciting French street art pairing of Ella & Pitr spoke with urbankulturblog recently to tell us a little about how they came to be, what they’ve been up to recently , and where they are headed in 2012.
Their current art project has been ongoing since 2010 and involves pasting picture frames across the world’s major cities, and asking passers-by to interact with each, and send the photographic evidence back to both Ella & Pitr. Unusual inspiration for them comes in the shape of a Newtonian quote;
‘Isaac Newton used to say that ‘Men build too many walls and not enough bridges’. The paper frames of Ella & Pitr turn walls, even the saddest ones, into bridges between the potential daily monotony and a possible desire of laughing.’
Ella & Pitr certainly have succeeded in turning walls into bridges, with thousands of documented interactions to date, and undoubtedly more to come. The popularity of this project combined with its accessibility is great for street art in general.
UKB: Firstly, thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions for urbankulturblog. So tell us a little bit about how you came to be an artistic pairing.
Ella & Pitr (E&P): Ella was comedian and I (Pitr) was a graffiti writer. We met each other in one of the streets of St Etienne a small city near to Lyon in France. Ella was pasting her first drawings, and I was also pasting some work with friends. So I asked her what sort a drawings she was pasting and then we started working together. Since this day in September back in 2007, we have never stopped drawing and have since made 2 children!
UKB: That’s a great story! So where does the inspiration from your work come from? I gather that you don’t just post or paint the picture frames you are currently working on?
E&P: That’s right, we used to paint huge characters. Our inspiration often comes from what we see in the street, from the lonely people of the society. See this video for an explanation.
E&P: Street art is, for us, the best and most simple way to speak with people. We work on paper because it’s natural and not harmful to the walls. If somebody hates our drawings, it’s easy to clean off! If nobody tries to clean them, they can stay for 2 or 3 years. Usually, our drawings stay up a long time because our drawings are quiet, and sometimes people don’t see them. We want to be a part of the walls, we don’t want to impose our drawings on them. For us it’s really important to be short-lived. It’s important to live in the streets but also in the minds!
UKB: So how did the idea for the picture frames project come about?
E&P: We started the frames without thinking about asking people to take a photos in front of them. It was like a background for our characters. Then we wrote a small email to tell people that they could take a photo and then send us them by email. It worked! The first frames we pasted were in Paris in 2010, I think… but we are not sure! Since then we have received a lot from every city we have visited!
UKB: Excellent. Last we heard you received over 2000 photos of interactions! Are you going to continue painting the frames?
E&P: Yes, we are continuing to paste and paint them!
UKB: We’ll continue to keep our eyes peeled! Did you start of with the intention of this becoming an international project?
E&P: At the beginning, when we started this game in France, we didn’t think about pasting everywhere. We received a lot of photos and we decided to keep pasting in every town we visited. We try to travel whenever we can and we always take a lot of drawings and frames to paste. So we paste a lot in Berlin, Paris, Venice, Napoli, Lyon, Arles, Vienna…
UKB: We even saw there are a few photos from Ha Noi – phenomenal! So do you have any specific plans for the year ahead?
E&P: Yes! A lot! We are preparing an exhibition in March at the Le Feuvre Gallery in Paris and a book about this exhibition. And a lot of pasting everywhere in France and Europe!
UKB: Can’t wait to see what you produce for the exhibition, and the book. I hope both are great successes! Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us.
It was great to get the chance to get to know Ella & Pitr and their work more, please support them by checking their exhibition out, and visiting their great website here; http://papierspeintres.net/ which is as fun to use as any website we’ve been on in the last while. For more of their ‘picture frames’ project visit here; http://www.flickr.com/photos/ellapitrbackgrounds/. UKBAll photos from http://papierspeintres.net/ & http://www.flickr.com/photos/ellapitrbackgrounds/.