Before Fafi got to work on her latest project, Vegas: Alter Your Reality, she needed to find a way to connect with a far away city.
Fafi is famous for her paintings, murals and graffiti creations called the Fafinettes. Paint brush in hand, she’s brought them to life all over the world. She got the bug for graphic and fine arts around 1994, painting her sassy girl characters wherever she could in her hometown of Toulouse, France. At the time, Fafi was in school to become a health care professional. The Fafinettes became an outlet for the future nurse’s inner troublemaker. They propelled her out of the medical world and into pop culture. Now, brands, fans and pop artists all over the world connect with Fafi’s girl power. And it makes sense. The Fafinettes are rebels. They transcend female stereotypes and rule over their universe, The Carmine Vault. And sometimes they rule ours − taking over the pages of Vogue and Elle, or collaborating with M.A.C, adidas, Coca-Cola and Lily Allen.
When Vegas asked Fafi to bring her girls into the virtual world, there was mixed feeling of eagerness and apprehension. She explains, “What excites me about the project as an artist is being able to [create] an immersion of my universe. Which means I can give the [viewer] feelings and put them into a mood.” But, as with anything new, there would be complications. “The challenge for me was that I couldn’t be close. …”
While Fafi lives in Paris, she’s no stranger to Vegas. She’s been to the city about 10 times and even left her mark in the form of some pretty incredible murals. Her Fafinettes have sat boldly on the walls of the Emergency Arts building downtown.
Fafi had one more Vegas visit on the books before building her virtual universe.
When she arrived, Fafi described an “almost physical reaction to the city − the colors, the fact that you don’t know if it’s day or night, and the fact that you can be anybody.”
If you were with Fafi atop The Stratosphere’s Sky Jump, you could almost see that reaction. Standing 829 feet in the air, eyes lighting up with anticipation − she jumped. It was like this carefree, youthful and curious side was set free. She moved through the Neon Museum with that same energy, captivated by the mystery and old-timey playfulness of the retired signs.
Fafi let Vegas provoke, influence and infect her. In her own words,
And that other dimension changes you.
“What brought me to this project is the new platform, new support. … VR is completely innovative for me and I wanted to try [it].” But what she may not have realized going in to this, is the deeper connection she’s had to Vegas since her first time here.
Vegas has transformed her on a molecular level. The same way it has on each and every last visitor who’s spent a night on the Strip, dancing until 4 a.m., or talking to a complete stranger until the sun comes up.
Fafi’s Vegas-inspired universe reminds us of the Vegas somewhere in our DNA, daring us to live a little more.