If you find yourself walking down the streets of Berlin and you see a crossword puzzle pasted on the wall, or a knitted heart emerging from a metal fence, or a tetris-shaped tiles filling in the gaps of the underground walls, you’ve likely come across the work of Aïda Gómez, an intriguing Spaniard who likes to call herself a “street worker”. Born in Madrid in 1986, she is now living in Berlin, Germany, where her little urban adventures stand to remind us, the passersby, of the things we seem to have forgotten, too busy thinking about something else. Like a good Samaritan, Aïda Gómez draws our attention to what matters and engages our thoughts in ways we certainly didn’t expect.
Aïda Gómez is someone who walks around the city with a set of eyes that can see beyond the surface, as if she had some magical kind of goggles that help her recognize a secret story that lies beneath a certain place. Her friendly spirit is overwhelming, and looking at her install her creations on the street is like watching a child play, carefree and curious. Aïda Gómez’s relationship with urban art began during her time as the founder of La Pluma Eléctri*k art collective, which brought to life many successful collaborations with other artists and festivals in Spain and abroad, between 2006 and 2011. Her move to the German capital marked the beginning of another kind of journey, one where the city became an incubator of ideas for her to develop and share with the world.
A video of Aida Gomez word-play installation at CityLeaks Festival 2015
The Urban Playground of Aïda Gómez
In the playful work of Aïda Gómez, we notice the true essence of street art – ephemeral and appealing, it sends a unique message to individuals and societies alike, using an array of media and lots of imagination. Whether it’s her Snow Graffiti, for which she used foam to write short-lived writings on walls across Berlin, or an improvised harp, which found its home in a hole of a brick wall for which Aïda Gómez provided strings, or one of her latest works, in which she constructed sentences using leaves, this talented artist is always inspired by her immediate surroundings, the people she inhabits the city with. And because street art has an important role of communicating a certain message to a wide audience, Aïda Gómez uses means like words, letters and language games, in order to intrigue and entertain.
In her Thinking Posters project, the artist produced word search games printed on sheets of paper that were put up across Berlin. While solving them, the viewers are confronted by the concepts of love and truth, and invited to set out on a quest to find themselves and their own way. For CityLeaks Festival 2015, created an entire installation of the game in form of a large labyrinth, with everyone joining in to search for the hidden meaning among an apparently chaotic web of letters. In 2013, for the Festival de Arte Emergent de Cuenca Extendido, Aïda Gómez created the “connect the dots” game on a ruined wall, luring the public into becoming a part of it, but also turning them into street artists of a kind.
Aïda Gómez’s latest take on the society we live in and the factors that influence our lives and behaviors is a project called Reality. This time, the artist used the particular characteristics of transparent stickers for mirrors and glasses, in order to create Instagram-like screenshots that can serve as a frame for your selfies or portraits. But there’s a catch: all the images must be of your true self, without any use of filters or other enhancers. Through this work, Aïda Gómez asks us: are we ready to finally be who we are, in the real world? Just how dependent are we on the cyber reality that we have created?
This project and lots more is what we’ve talked to Aïda Gómez about, so make sure you scroll down for our little conversation!
The Meaning of Words
OPEN WALLS: Your art is incredibly positive, like a curious surprise you run into while walking down the street. How do people respond to your urban creations? How do they engage?
Aïda Gómez: Thanks! One of the funniest parts of my work is observing people interacting with my pieces. I hide and observe. This is a very revealing exercise because sometimes they have totally unexpected reactions! Regularly I see people surprised, smiling and taking pictures of my pieces, but from time to time I also receive emails from unknown people with impressions about my work, this makes me incredibly happy.
OPEN WALLS: A big part of your oeuvre is made up of words, letters, and their endless possibilities. What it is that makes words so appealing?
Aïda Gómez: Some words or phrases hide a double meaning. I like to think about it and work with this fact. There’s also a lot of interesting facts in every language that tell us a lot about each country. Right now I am studying German and I love how descriptive the german vocabulary is sometimes. There is also things like the word “Glück” that in German means “happiness” and “luck”, how can it be possible? Words are just symbols with the responsibility to put our thoughts in common and this is not an easy thing.
OPEN WALLS: In your practice, you use different materials and forms of expression: foam, knit threads, posters. Does the choice come to you naturally, once you notice a location? What else would you like to explore, when it comes to tools of communication?
Aïda Gómez: I have no boundaries and I want to stay experimental on this. I always work to find the better dress for each topic and I am always open to test new tools. My only personal rule is try to work with materials that can be easily deleted in case it bothers someone. It’s better for me to remove a piece, than ask for permission.
The Importance of the Reality Project
OPEN WALLS: Is there anyone whose work you particularly admire, or some other artist you’d like to collaborate with?
Aïda Gómez: Sure! A bunch of people! Here in Berlin, the city where I am currently living, I admire the work of the crew Berlin Kidz, Various & Gould, Alaniz, Brad Downey and Vermibus, but I’m always paying attention to what is happening in Spain, my homeland, where people like Spy, Dos Jotas, Escif, Hyuro or Luz Interruptus are doing a great job.
I would love to collaborate with anyone who’s sharing a passion about the same ideas as me, not necessarily coming from the street art world. For example I’ve collaborated with Sr. Charli, an excellent musician, in a joint project called “Playing in the street”. And the experience was great, I learnt a lot from him.
OPEN WALLS: What can you tell us about your most recent work, entitled “Reality”? How did you come up with its concept?
Aïda Gómez: I’ve been observing people who are very trapped by the sharing pictures app called Instagram, I don’t see this as a good thing and I decided to do something about this fact. So I designed a sticker with a special layout to be pasted on mirrors and crystals, where you can see that the app is called “Reality”, the user is “yourself” and the moment is “now”.
It is just a thought, to come back to appreciate the real moments, the “Here and Now”, and stop being attached to the falsity of social networks.
Anyone who wants one of those stickers can write me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
OPEN WALLS: What does the future hold for Aïda Gómez?
Aïda Gómez: I hope a lot of fun! This month I will launch a new photo-book called “¡Es la polla!” published by Mercado Negro. It’s a collection of dick graffitis I’ve found in the streets of many cities. It’s a common topic very extended, did you notice this?
Next month I will travel to Mallorca for a festival and also is the release of “Street Art Symphony,” a film by Fernando Epelde, where I do some acting and the art direction.
And of course, I won’t stop doing urban interventions!