Alongside street artists such as Peeta, Levalet, and Victoria Villasana, Ford tackled the idea, “What if street artists could work on any surface, not restricted by scale, accessibility, safety, or rules?”
Ford photographed street art that cleverly blends into the surrounding landscape to put the street artists’ work in places they couldn’t otherwise create, including heavily guarded and protected locations like the Panthéon in Paris, England’s iconic Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, and a central strip of a freeway in Los Angeles.
Ford’s collaborators were given large photographic prints of the selected locations as canvases and then created original, hard-made artworks directly onto the photos. Ford took photos of the prints in their original location, capturing them anew, complete with their beautiful modifications, something Colossal describes as “playful and imaginative.”
In the first release of the Impossible Street Art series, Ford has unveiled eight prints, with each work brilliantly bringing each artist’s unique style to life. Ador, featured in the video above, introduced their imaginative character to the scene. The collaborative photo project also celebrates Peeta’s famous optical illusions and Victoria Villasana’s integrations of textiles into her murals.
Even though Ford supplied his fellow artists with large prints, the street artists are nonetheless used to working at a much larger scale, so the different workflow offered them a unique challenge.
While Ford’s new collaborative series enables artists to infuse famous, protected locations with their artwork, Ford faced challenges during image capture. Beyond the challenge of capturing each area twice with similar lighting, weather, and framing, Ford was also “chased away by security guards, attacked by hungry mosquitoes,” and had the “artworks blown over by strong winds.” The project has many moving pieces, and execution requires meticulous planning.
“Street artists are well known for having this immense creativity that already pushes at the limits of what’s possible. I wanted to see what we could create together if those limits were removed altogether. What could we do with landmarks it would be impossible to get to? What if instead of a brick wall, the canvas were the side of a mountain or the surface of the sea?” Ford says.
“I’ve been blown away with the ideas [the artists] came up with, and it’s been a privilege to use my photography to situate those ideas in the real world and highlight how limitless the imagination of the street artist is,” he continues.
Artists featured in the first print release include Ador (France), Denis Meyers (Belgium), JanIsDeMan (Netherlands), Levalet (France), Morley (USA), Peeta (Italy), and Victoria Villasana (Mexico).
Further artworks are in progress, and Ford says more information about locations and contributing artists will be shared later this year.
“The Impossible Street Art project caught my attention because it interrupts reality for the viewer and allows me as an artist to reimagine the world with all limits removed. Street art says that anything in this world can be a canvas, and Joseph’s process takes that idea and runs with it. There is a long-term vision for this collaboration and I’m excited to see what other artists will bring to it,” says collaborating artist Victoria Villasana.
More of award-winning photographer Joseph Ford’s work is available on his website. Prints from Impossible Street Art and Ford’s previous projects are available through his online store, including prints from Ford’s amazing collaboration, Knitted Camouflage, with knitter Nina Dodd that PetaPixel featured in 2018.
Image credits: All images © Joseph Ford, collaborating artists are labeled in each caption