The Covidiot, Suspended Liberty, and Corona Isolation : Lapiz in Hamburg

Corona has killed off the street art festivals in many ways. These days we think that all street art is local, and the nature of the graffiti street scene is changed by it as well. Additionally with so many people out of work, many artists have more time, we see more thoughtfully considered pieces and perhaps better executed pieces. Just a theory.

Since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, Lapiz says that he has gone back to his earlier days more than a decade ago: posters and wheatpaste. Living in Hamburg, Germany now, he has travelled to places like New Zealand and parts of Africa and South America in the past, but right now he’s more focused on developing work with a message – partly as a way to communicate ideas to passersby but partly as a way to contemplate complex modern matters. Today Lapiz tells BSA readers in his own words about three recent socio-political issues, with his own approach to critique.

The Covidiot

Lapiz. The Covidiot. (photo © Lapiz)

Again, time has passed, restrictions have further been lifted, travel is possible again, so are services at church, the museums are open again. Protests are possible if the rules of social distancing and wearing a mask are observed. Rightfully, people started to protest against the restrictions implemented by the government, but a small group took the stage. The Covidiot, according to the urban dictionary, is a person ignoring the warnings regarding public health and safety.

On top of that all kinds of wild stories are spun to explain the virus in ways that can be interpreted as anti-Semitic. The challenge for me to address this was to not resort to the obvious and paint a mask; but here it had to be done. But here the black-white-red mask is covering the eyes. The colours are taken from the Reichs-flag, a symbol of all those rejecting the legitimacy of the modern German state. Here it was used as a metaphor for people blinded by anti-Semitic propaganda something all Corona-deniers around the world have in common,

So far, the Covidiot is the last entry in this body of work. However, the pandemic is not over and it is just days since the best-known Covidiot in the world tested positive. We will see what other challenges lay ahead.

Liberty Suspended

Lapiz. Liberty Suspended. (photo © Lapiz)

The feeling of loneliness did not go away, but it felt as if the people adapted to it, the new normal, this is what life is now. Since the first intervention of this piece on the street some time has passed and the second installment was glued up on the same poster board a few weeks after the restriction of the lockdown were loosened. While supermarkets, shops and restaurants were allowed to open again, most other things are strictly forbidden and many liberties granted in the constitution are “temporarily” suspended in favour of safety and security.

So, while shopping was possible, protest wasn’t, religious groups could not gather, access to playgrounds was restricted and culture was declared obsolete. A new feeling came about, disbelief: how easy it is to take human rights away. These printed big sheets are of the first articles of the German constitution, crossing the articles that are now deemed to be irrelevant to the system. Onto this changed constitution is painted the universal symbol of freedom, Miss Liberty, wrapped in banner tape used by police to mark restricted areas.

The C-Word

Lapiz. The C Word. (photo © Lapiz)

A girl hugging herself, surrounded by a yellow social-distancing hoola-hoop was the first piece – it is glued on a poster stand that is normally reserved for local politicians. It was right in front one of the biggest supermarkets in Hamburg, one of the only shops open in the first weeks. Instead of focusing on the mask, I wanted to concentrate on what it would mean to be locked away in a city without having contact with anyone, not even your neighbours or friends.

How would you feel if everyone else is regarded as a potential threat – when hugging would be hazardous and close ones would not be allowed to be close anymore? Would you hug yourself, close your eyes and pretend it was someone else?