Aiming to spread “magic, luck and friendship”, Miami’s FriendsWithYou are here to put a smile on your face.
If, by chance, you ended up far out on the dusty, concrete West Side of Manhattan this summer, you may have stumbled across an unexpected world of inflatable happiness. Taking time out from a continued collaboration with N*E*R*D, that has included repainting a Rolls Royce, the Miami duo of Samuel Borkson and Arturo “Tury” Sandoval III transformed a parking lot into a fairy-tale world of floating heads, helium igloos and mega mushrooms. Exploding the shackles of minimalism, esoterics and pretention that can constrain contemporary art, FWY’s work provides fantastical escape for anyone raised in the age of Nintendo. The duo have taken over Bowery art space The Hole until August 6th, packing it with pneumatic smiling faces, glistening splurges of primary colour and a giant, smiling monster that threatens to break through the walls. We got in touch with Samuel shortly after the opening to hear more about the FriendsWithYou mission to spread the love:
Bright, bouncy, inflatable things – should people be looking for a deeper artistic meaning or just chill out, get on the trampoline and knock some giant, floating heads around? We feel there’s something deeper about play; we are evoking pure exuberance for people, bringing out something magical and mystical inside us all. We are always in the pursuit of awakening people with these impactful immersive experiences, reinterpreting human rituals from ancient religious ideas and reformatting them for modern society so Play becomes a much more empowering idea. That’s what we try to offer.
How did the collaboration with N*E*R*D come about? We’re really close buds and collaborators with Pharrell Williams. He has been a big supporter of our art and our mission – the best is yet to come.
You’ve released a line of toys, and Rainbow City is a playground for adults and children alike. How did you keep yourselves entertained when you were kids? I felt like I was a little grown-up, ruling the streets on my bike with my friends. I was born here and Tury was born in Cuba. We both got jerked from childhood kind of young – me getting kicked out of my parents’ house and Tury escaping with his fam’ from Cuba. We have both, luckily, escaped society’s grip and held true to our inner child in some way, and that has brought us to where we are now.
Your art makes people happy. Are you naturally optimistic people? We practice being happy and that is the entering point. Behind that veil are the deep and powerful emotions that everyone deals with! We are all connected and we all feel the same type of things generally speaking – it’s just how you train your mind to think, your outlook and your perspective on things.
Now that you’ve conquered New York City, what’s next? The world! Thanks for saying that, but I don’t feel we’ve conquered anything, we are only trying to spread this happy magic as far as we can. We are working on animations, more large scale experiential installations, gallery shows and so forth! We want to play with the whole world in some way or another.
The UK’s having a bit of a tough time at the moment – any chance you could spread a bit of happiness over here? Ok, we’ll go!
“:)” runs at The Hole, 312 Bowery, New York City, until August 6th.
Text: Oscar Quine