“Slaves ‘R’ Us” : Advertising, Propaganda, and SEBS in Lisbon

The power of advertising and propaganda is undisputed, whether it is for toothpaste or war. We are being acted upon daily by people who would like us to do (or not do) something.  Usually it is to give money for a product or service, but more than ever it is to stand by and allow bombs to fall or laws to be eroded.

Artists have been parodying the methods of advertisement and our willingness to be swayed by it almost since it began, perhaps as a way of alerting us of the deleterious effects of unthinking consumerism in general, or to give us the tools to comprehend and analyze the methods that are effectively driving our behavior.  Invariably, our actions as individuals, citizens, and consumers are all folded into the critique.

 
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SEBS, or Mauro Carmelino in Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © Mauro Carmelino)

But whether it is the illustrated stickers of Wacky Packages  or the cereal killers and billboard takeovers of Ron English, many artists have found that humor and irony are effective ways to sweeten the lampoon of advertisers and our complicity – a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, as Mary Poppins sang.

Street Artist Mauro Carmelino, who writes SEBS as his moniker, recently completed an entire campaign of his own that questions many things we do and wonders if we are even aware of the lines between citizenry and consumerism we traverse these days.

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SEBS, or Mauro Carmelino in Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © Mauro Carmelino)

Entitled “Slaves ‘R’ Us”, this series of handmade works are on the walls of Ajuda, a civil parish in the municipality of Lisbon, Portugal. Bright and simple designs that are cheerful enough, even if they belie a less pleasant series of questions for pondering.

“Democracy, the environment, freedom, security, employment and corporatism are all portrayed as products of a ‘Progress’ that seems to reach the expiration date,” he says as he describes the various elements in the campaign. In Carmelino’s view, our free will is seriously in question today.  “We look back to past societies and feel we came a long way. Did we? Are we free when all our lives can be crunched into zeros and ones, somewhere on a server in California?”

The work looks welcoming and cartoonish on these aged walls and buildings, and if the artists intentions are realized, his greater messages will have an affect on the mind of the viewer. It helps that some of the locations of the walls provides a bit of context, like the silo-shaped building that has a warning about cow milk, “Some of these are inspired by the personal stories of people or are somehow related to the intervened walls,” says the artist.

Special thanks to the artist for providing these exclusive photos for BSA readers.

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SEBS, or Mauro Carmelino in Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © Mauro Carmelino)

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SEBS, or Mauro Carmelino in Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © Mauro Carmelino)

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SEBS, or Mauro Carmelino in Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © Mauro Carmelino)

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SEBS, or Mauro Carmelino in Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © Mauro Carmelino)

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SEBS, or Mauro Carmelino in Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © Mauro Carmelino)

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SEBS, or Mauro Carmelino in Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © Mauro Carmelino)

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SEBS, or Mauro Carmelino in Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © Mauro Carmelino)

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SEBS, or Mauro Carmelino in Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © Mauro Carmelino)

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SEBS, or Mauro Carmelino in Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © Mauro Carmelino)

 

 

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