The Bushwick Collective is an organization of graffiti artists that was conceived in Brooklyn, New York, in 2011. It was founded by Joe Ficalora, whose experiences growing up in rough 1980s Bushwick inspired him to find relief through wall art. The collective immediately gained the support of the Mana Urban Arts Project of Mana Contemporary — the artist studio and exhibition space based in Jersey City, New Jersey, that's the sister venue to Mana Wynwood.
At the intersection of NW 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue in Wynwood, you’ll encounter Come On... What the Hell Do You Have to Lose? — a massive mural across from the Mana warehouse. The mural depicts Donald Trump as Batman villain the Joker, holding a knife to the Statue of Liberty. Moishe Mana, the Wynwood developer who commissioned the naked Trump statue that briefly appeared in Wynwood and then was stolen last month, commissioned this work.
Mana Urban Arts Project director Stan Sudol designed the concept to express what he and the artists of the Bushwick Collective fear for the 2016 presidential election.
“[Donald Trump is] threatening all we have worked hard to have at this point in America and in the world. Freedom, understanding, safety are all being threatened by this person who is drunk with power and out of control,” Ficalora says.
A dozen artists collaborated to create the mural, including plenty of local talent: Remoteroc, Golden, Aquarelart, Smog One, Surge, Wellington Naberezny Sipros, Miro, Ruben Ubiera, Nate Dee, Ivan Roque, FreakyKissDesigns, Fiorella Podesta, and HecOneLove.
It’s not Bushwick Collective's first time in the neighborhood. You might remember the group and Mana Wynwood hosting a four-day event at the RC Cola factory last December. The event showcased artists from all over the world, including Shok-1, SP, Arive, Miro, Cost, Chor Boogie, Billy Mode, Trek 6, and Tracy 168, as well as performances by DJ Khaled and Fat Joe.
Ficalora says he has never been one for politically charged artwork, but desperate times call for desperate measures. With the turbulent presidential campaigns coming to a head, Bushwick Collective and Mana Urban Arts have united to show their deepest concerns about where they believe our country could go under the leadership of Trump.
And you can bet this won’t be the collective's last wall. “[W]e don't just come into Miami for Basel and leave... we respect the community and want to continue to provide opportunities for all the local artists and those visiting Miami,” Ficalora says. Next on their agenda: a reprisal of last year's party, to be held December 2 and 3 at the RC Cola factory.
“If you have been to any of the events we have thrown," Ficalora says, "you know it's going to be a memorable time.”
Come On... What the Hell Do You Have to Lose?
On view until the end of November at the intersection of NW 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue in Miami's Wynwood Arts District.
All photographs by Alessando Abate, who has been shooting in Wynwood since 2012.