MTO Makes You Stand On Your Head to See “Worker Ghetto Box”

Sometimes it is a good idea to turn your style upside down.

MTO often uses photo-realistic figures and a measure of biting sarcasm to capture you – riveting your eyes to a luscious rendering whose meaning you must decipher. As if to challenge himself this time in Portugal he has stripped away the eye candy and flipped your expectation onto its head.

Ironically that may be the best way to view this new piece in Loures – while standing on your head.


MTO “Worker Ghetto Box” Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © MTO)

As if to say that immigrants are tossed into the neglected areas of a city like a shipping box, MTO created this “Worker Ghetto Box” at the crossing of Rua Agostinho and Rua Pero Escobar to cause you to think for a minute.

How well do you know the lives of the people who are working all around you? How many economies are propped up by immigrant communities? Why are they often relegated to the forgotten areas of cities, gently barred from participation in the greater city, denied the pleasant niceties afforded to wealthier neighborhoods?


MTO “Worker Ghetto Box” Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © MTO)

“The ‘Quinta do Mocho’ neighborhood has been considered for many years as a dangerous area,” says MTO, “the hood is very poor and composed of a huge majority of African immigrants.” That’s why you see the vast seal of Africa on the upside-down cardboard box, a reference to the contained community that is not invited to integrate with the greater city of Loures, but none-the-less works in its low-wage sector and contributes to the tax base and cultural richness.

By creating the “O Bairro i o Mundo” festival, the Municipality of Loures worked with the city council and the the association Theatre IBISCO to create the project of 30 murals on facades all around the neighborhood. They say they wanted to build foot-traffic through the area and to deliberately change the image and eliminate stigma, using artistic intervention to regenerate interest in the area and to encourage new immigrants to feel connected to the greater population.

Now with this mural by MTO, passersby may get one more perspective on the immigrant experience, and want to turn that box right-side up.


MTO “Worker Ghetto Box” Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © MTO)


MTO “Worker Ghetto Box” Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © MTO)


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