Street artists of Florence

Lediesis, Carla Bru of Dhai-studio and Rame 13

Samantha Vaughn
September 30, 2019 - 14:32

As women artists begin to reclaim their rightful role in the history of art in recent years—in Florence, we can thank the valuable work of Advancing Women Artists, whose mission is dedicated to recovering and exhibiting art by women long buried in the city’s museum storages—so, too, are female street artists pushing through to the foreground, seeking to be known. Such a feat is a challenge in a city rooted deeply in the past, but with the increasing number of respected street art spotted around town, we can count on a number of them being done at the hands of talented women.

 

 

 

An outtake from The Florentine's October cover shoot with our editorial assistant Phoebe Owston / photo by Valeria Raniolo @valeriavivequi

When you’re anonymous, like Lediesis, the public recognizes your art first and foremost.

 

 

 

When the anonymous Lediesis clandestinely threw up eight “superwomen” around Florence in honour of International Women’s Day in March, Florentines and visitors mobilized en masse to find them all. Rita Levi-Montalcini, Frida Kahlo, Margherita Hack, Princess Lela, Sophia Loren, the Virgin Mary, Nefertiti and Kill Bill’s The Bride were all given the superhero treatment, affixed to the walls with Superman’s emblem emblazoned on their chests, coyly winking at the spectator. With this single act, the mysterious street artist (or collective) shined a light on the achievements of these powerful women, both real and fictional, and sent a message about the strength of the deeds of females across all walks of life.

 

 

Though Lediesis’s gender(s) remains anonymous, his/her/their work is undoubtedly a rallying cry to recognize the role of women in history. “The idea to make the Superwomen came about as a sort of joke,” Lediesis says. “The artworks were made in only a few days, and it was entirely impulsive to put them up on March 8 as a tribute to women and as a moment for us all to reflect.” With a lengthy list of inspiring women to choose from, narrowing it down was never going to be an easy task. “The works portray women who universally represent feminine strength, sensitivity and intelligence, all stars in their respective fields.” This October, Lediesis will be taking centre stage during the L’Eredità delle Donne cultural showcase in Florence, having adorned the information point in piazza della Repubblica. (See page 18.)

 

 

 

Street art by Carla Bru, of Dhai-studio

 

 

 

This sentiment is certainly reflected in the other established female street artists present in the city. Carla Bru, of Dhai-studio, is one of these, her red-haired shamans pasted up around Florence. According to the artist, she didn’t intend to become a part of the street art scene; like many things in life, it happened naturally, she says. “I opened my studio ten years ago with the intention of sharing it with other artists, an incubator of art with a mix of individuals that could each express themselves in their own way. Art develops on its own, and street art made its way spontaneously into my space and into my life.” Bru’s pieces are unique, a collage of newspapers and magazines that overlap and combine to convey a message or question, or sometimes a simple play on words. Her take on femininity manifests itself through shamans, through hands delicately holding a single flower, renowned women of antiquity and a particularly evocative piece aptly titled Shamana Vitruviana, whose inspiration is obvious.

 

 

 

Rame 13's street art

 

 

Rame 13 takes a different approach to her work, hitting the streets with massive murals. The Pisa native trained at Florence’s Scuola Internazionale di Comics, before diving into the world of street art in 2016 after she was invited to Palermo with the Progeas Family for the improvised street art project Inseminazione artistica nel cemento. “That’s where I did my first mural, The Marine Musician. From that day onward, it was true love,” the artist says. She’s quick to quote a number of female street artists, including Alessandra Carloni, Camilla Falsini, Laucky illustra, Gio Pistone and SteReal, and although she does concede that it isn’t always easy to be taken seriously as a woman street artist, she believes that the medium is evolving. “Slowly, we’re getting to a point where there’s less of a separation and art is winning out over gender.” Bru echoes this statement, commenting, “Art has no gender and the times change; what was once valid no longer is. Values change. Females are increasingly taking back the space they deserve in many areas.”

 

 

What links these three artists, besides their love for public art, is the feeling that gender should not have to be the focus of what they do. “I’ve never seen being a woman street artist as a challenge,” explains Carla Bru. “I only think about what I do and my content.” Lediesis sees it similarly, but acknowledges the role of anonymity in what they do, “When you’re anonymous, like Lediesis, the public recognizes your art first and foremost. The work speaks for itself. And this is the most important thing.”

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