‘Homo Naledi’ in Baltimore Points to Our Modern De-Evolution

When you look at the corporate yellow journalism flashing across screens today, the shallow and sensational rhetoric may lead you to believe we are devolving as a race. In fact it is just the opposite in many quarters, so media literacy is more important now than ever to discern who is propagating this narrative, and to what ends?

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Alfredo Segatori and Pablo Machioli (photo © Matt Fox-Tucker/BA Street Art)

Certainly many cultural observers deduct that man and woman have not progressed since prehistory and a new Baltimore mural by Street Artists Alfredo Segatori (Argentina) and Pablo Machioli (Uruguay) is a throw-back to our less-evolved selves. “I believe that cavemen still exist today and this mural is a like a mirror to look back at our roots,” says Segatori about the singular ‘Homo Naledi’ figure whose bones were discovered by anthropologists in South Africa in 2015  “We need to decide what future we want for our kids and if we want to move forward as a human race.”

The mural is part of a larger initiative including more than 20 street artists participating in a two continent cultural exchange between Baltimore and Buenos Aires, an outside component of a gallery show entitled “Roots”. The show is curated by Baltimores’ Richard Best of Section 1 Project and Matt Fox-Tucker of Buenos Aires Street Art along with local Gallery 788.

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Alfredo Segatori and Pablo Machioli (photo © Matt Fox-Tucker/BA Street Art)

As Street Art and murals are continuing to bring more of the social and political themes to the streets in cities like Baltimore and Buenos Aires, traditional organizers of public art programming appear to be on the wane – perhaps because taxpayer funded initiatives have evaporated in most cities and more complex privately funded programs triangulate outcomes.

Actual grassroots organizers of programs like this, while still related to a gallery show, are more likely to respect intellectual rigor and are increasingly carving out their own curatorial niche. It is an interesting crack in the dialogue in public space where the final artworks often respond to society in more challenging ways, rather than producing only pleasing imagery and messages approved by committee or commercial interests.

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Alfredo Segatori and Pablo Machioli (photo © Matt Fox-Tucker/BA Street Art)

For Segatori, this mural is a direct response to how we are behaving as a race – particularly toward one another. “I believe that in the world today there is still a lot of violence and intolerance so the idea of our mural is to show the reality of the society that we live in,” says Segatori of the new piece.

“There are people around us who are still forced to live in poverty, suffer from racism, discrimination and persecution due to the color of their skin.” Whether locals will take this message away from the mural is anyone’s guess, but the organizers of “Roots-Raices” say they hope to open the discussion between communities about how to assist in our collective evolution.

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Alfredo Segatori and Pablo Machioli (photo © Matt Fox-Tucker/BA Street Art)

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Alfredo Segatori and Pablo Machioli (photo © Matt Fox-Tucker/BA Street Art)

‘Roots’ brings together artworks by more than 20 street artists from Argentina and Baltimore exploring origins, cultural identities and social and racial history. Baltimore street artists who have created new artworks for the show include Gaia, Pablo Machioli, Paul Mericle, Billy Mode, Nether, Reed, Mas Paz, Ernest Shaw, Gregg Deal, Lee Nowell-Wilson and Toven plus photographs by Martha Cooper. Argentine artists represented are Alfredo Segatori are Nazza Stencil, El Marian, Luxor, Ice, Patxi Mazzoni Alonso, Maxi Bagnasco, Primo and Juan Zeballos.

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