Wastedland 2 Takes Portland: Meet Andrew H. Shirley
By: Reed Wojick
Have you ever seen a blank space, wall, or sidewalk needing some reform and spunk? Yeah, Me too. I believe in creativity, revolutionary change, and exceeding standards of art, film, and aesthetics. Thanks to Andrew H. Shirley; installations, guerilla cinematography, and street art known as graffiti were presented in Portland, Oregon on April 21, 2017. All variations of people swarmed the venue- street kids, teens, locals; the film truly exposed itself to those of any shape, size, race, gender, etc. Making Wastedland 2 an even more intimate happening perfect for the curious soul. Issuing an extraordinary image of what the world is like as a post apocalyptic landscape artist; Shirley’s film, Wastedland 2 draws out the identities many of these people share as secret DIY wordplayers, painters, poets, and sculptors. The Portland show was built out by Shea Cote, Andrew H. Shirley, as well as, Rambo; who painted the "Slay Rogues" scripture on the wall- a list of 13 commandments. As the show played out, those watching; were apart of an immersive experience, making this installation a legendary one in OldTown, Portland.
Those obtaining such a gift live under a belief that each talent is being lead by a particular spirit animal redefining the way people traditionally engage in film and art. Not only does the film make us ask ourselves the question, “ What’s the Point?” it ignites the enigmatic artworks left behind on their adventurous trail through the diverse entities of city-made and nature-made artifacts contributing to the vandals ability to paint a controversial, yet necessary image or poem. As Andrew brought the culture to Portland, the sidewalks flooded with those of a passion, desire, and urge to possibly refresh their mind of the truth behind the realistic world we live in: a constant question of fate.
I spoke with Andrew H. Shirley about the tricks, myths, and secrets of what Wastedland 2 had in store for Portland, the beginning of the whole sha-bang, and the meaning behind the film itself; listen up and be amazed!
Overmag: How did you and your crew of artists come to terms with this idea of creating a short film?
Andrew H. Shirley: Wastedland 2 is a fantasy film rooted in an autobiographical narrative. The spirit animals in the film are my friends- a group of graffiti writers from the east coast many of whom are members of the 907 graffiti crew. UFO is the leader of this crew and the central figure in the film. He was a huge fan of the first Wastedland and had been encouraged me for years to do a sequel. While being set in a post apocalyptic setting, the backdrop is the typical setting to many of our travels. I find railroad tracks and the forgotten depths of abandoned buildings to provide a lot of inspiration. There's a deep spiritual connection to the past in these spaces and if you pay attention the ghosts that linger, will whisper stories of who was there and what happened. I used this narrative inspiration from past visits to these places and improvisation with the actors to compose much of the direction of the narrative.
Over: Can you tell me about when this started?
Shirley: I made the original Wastedland in 2009. It was actually the by product for a conceptual photography project I worked on where I was making a film to pull still images from. I asked some friends of mine to create costumes of their spirit animals and at the time beer and weed and a seemingly drifting existence was something I found myself in and as a result became the storyline for the film.
Over: What is your message towards those coming to the installation?
Shirley: There may be an interpretation guided by my film but the message is already in the viewer's heart. I don't attempt to answer anything, I am more concerned with the magic of the art making process, the form of the film and the opportunity to tell a story with this platform. The essence of my work is provoking critical thought- if this occurs than good magic has been practiced.
Over: How has graffiti and filming this film aided you as an individual?
Shirley: The success of the immersive quality of the exhibition is a testimony to the collaborative efforts of all the players from the film. They brought their own tools and work to help build the film and on the road have met up along the way to construct the physical landscape of the installations. Contrary to what the public may think about our community, Graffiti writers are extremely generous and helpful individuals. It is a community composed of people who look out for one another and who feed and house each other like family. 907 is a seriously dedicated family that is tremendously resourceful and generous. I haven't had problems finding materials, food and a place to stay because of the generosity and resourcefulness of this community. It is an honor to have these individuals in my life.
Keep an eye out for more to come--Follow @Wastedland2 on Instagram and see if they’re coming to a city near you!
Give artists Shea and Rambo a follow for some refreshing and intellectual pieces: @chinatownworld / @ldlr33
Visit www.wastedland2.com for recent visual arts/ films/ stories/ events now!