BR1 (Locri, Italy - 1984) lives and works in Turin, Italy.

In 2009 he graduated in Islamic Law from the University of Turin Law School, and from 2014 he is a lawyer.

Visual artist interested in contradictions caused by the capitalist model collision with cultures and experiences of people from the Mediterranean area.

The scenario in which his artistic practice takes shape is the public space, in which BR1 acts without permissions, favouring an ephemeral and spontaneous approach.

Cultures today are evolving quickly, influenced by different social and environmental factors, but they still preserve something immutable, survived to politics, economy and religion. Cultures survived also to the time. This is rooted in me, in the history of my forefathers lived in Calabria, a land in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, a land that was home of all Strangers used to navigate that Sea.

When I move to new places, I want to discover points of encounter between my culture and the one of the Stranger.

In every encounter I look for analogies between my culture and the Stranger’s one. These analogies clarify that we are just individuals that need to live the entire world without any fear. With exceptional strength and beauty, these analogies remind that everyone is a Stranger on this world.

Critique of Ethnocentrism and Questions of Identity in the Works of BR1.

The struggle to cope with the migrant crisis on a governmental level, resulting in rising xenophobia and restoration of centuries-long tensions between the Middle East and the West have inspired the artist to take the matter into his own hands, contemplating on the humanitarian crisis from the cultural point of view. Although the response from the art community has been rather slow, it is encouraging to see that some artists were able to recognize the social anxieties triggered by migration early on. Strongly believing in art’s social mission, Turin-based artist BR1 has dedicated his various projects to the subject of migration in the past years, reflecting on numerous paradoxes that arise from this contested phenomenon.

Fascinated with post-postmodern paradoxes, BR1 has dedicated his work to the exploration of contradictory phenomena that emerged in the late capitalism, with questions of cultural and gender identities being pivotal to his oeuvre. Through billboard takeovers, performances, and numerous public interventions, BR1 has been addressing various social and political issues, with his primary focus being the deconstruction of Eurocentric values and hegemonic discourses. The collision of cultures and the downfall of multicultural ideals in contemporary times have served as a major source of inspiration to the Italian artist who began to reflect on the ambiguities of globalized society, which instead of erasing borders creates new levels of cultural exclusion. Graduating in Islamic law, with the thesis on the veil, BR1 is particularly interested in the questions of female identities in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean societies. A large part of his work is dedicated to the idea of deconstruction of female Muslim identity and it boldly approaches the acute debate on the veil. Nonetheless, in recent times, BR1 has expanded his social agenda, dealing increasingly with the theme of migration, incapability of governments to handle the issue, along with the indifferent, discriminatory and racist attitudes that came to dominate and influence public opinions.

Raising Awareness of Migration Hardships.

Over the last couple of years, BR1 presented several projects that tackle the issue of illegal migrations, mistreatment of refugees and tragedies that follow their path to Europe. In the series of illegal public billboards titled Visa Denied he reflects on the phenomenon of visa denials to the applicants who reside in the countries with high immigration rates. The discriminatory policy present in several European states doesn’t, however, solve the problem, but contributes to the increase of illegal migrations and it directly opposes the idea of social mobility in rich states, the idea embodied through BR1’s imagery of non-Western men and women holding Visa credit cards in their hands. The refusal to secure safe passageways and accept asylum applications has resulted in the increase of illegal routes where the fate of thousands of people fleeing from the horrors of war is left in the hands of human traffickers, often with tragic results. In a billboard intervention General Indifference, BR1 presents a disquieting image of a young man drowning, referencing the numerous cases of migrant shipwrecks and deaths on sea, commentating on the apathy and heartless demeanor maintained by the governments and the public. BR1 discusses the same theme of hardships and suffering migrants endure on their way to freedom in the installation Finish from 2014. By placing a finish sign on the coast of Sardinia, BR1 imagines the migrants’ journey to mainland as a long marathon full of obstacles, where the finish sign stands for hope and the new beginning for survivors, also remembering those who lost their lives before they reached the coast of Italy in 2014 when Italian government failed in organizing rescue missions.

From Xenophobia to Cultural Dialogue.

BR1 does not only criticize the shameful treatment of immigrants, but also the cultural tensions that emanate from the migration phenomenon like prejudices, xenophobia and lack of compassion from the European citizens. A strong believer in democracy and civil society, BR1 promotes cultural dialogue and speaks about the necessity of intercultural approach and mutual respect between two conflicted sides. On that trail, we can interpret his recent performances The Giant of Melilla and Dialogue, which aim to diminish xenophobia and intolerant behavior. In his street art performance The Giant of Melilla, BR1 created a large handmade figure of a Giant, grotesque character found in many traditions in Mediterranean cultures. By situating his performance in the streets of Melilla, a Spanish city in Morocco’s area, a cultural crossroad infamous for the illegal border crossings, BR1 symbolically juxtaposes fear of the unknown embodied in the figure of a Giant with pleasure coming from his cumbersome dance. As the artist states: My Giant’s dance is nothing more than a moment of fun in the streets of Melilla and it should suggest the story of a man from the nomadic Issawa community, that jumped the border fence and symbolically came to Europe to dance and to demolish xenophobia. That fear that today torments so many Europeans, probably because they are afraid to experience the same misery and humiliation that migrants feel every day. The path toward understanding and cultural dialogue is also a subject of BR1’s video performance fittingly titled Dialogue. In this project, the artist addresses the other aspect of migration – the exclusion of political refugees from the society that has granted their plea for help, yet ignored their existence and made them invisible, silently showing they are not welcome. Amidst four young Africans adorned with life jackets, the artist stands in his polo shirt with his ears plugged, unwilling to hear the noise of the whistles, metaphorically capturing the spirit that pervades among European natives who are refusing to enter the conversations with foreigners living among them.