Thank god Saype finally gets to go to the beach! – after hanging around in those dreadful Swiss Alps painting on the side of a grass-covered mountain, he can finally get some surf. The “Beyond Walls” project takes him now to Rio de Janeiro, where his tenth stage of the campaign addresses those who take treacherous journeys via oceans, and some never return.
“To feel again the desperate embrace of those who saw them drift away forever… from African origin to American destination, from light to night, from freedom to slavery,” he says
The multi-stage global artwork is revealed in pieces as the land/street artist travels the globe. He recognizes the divisions between people and actively proposes a message of unity through his biodegradable paintings.
“Between the postcard image of Copacabana, which nevertheless bears the tragic marks of history, and the favela, the gigantic hands of ‘Beyond Walls’ strive to overcome the fractures of the past as well as those that are still very present,” says his press release. “They remind us that it is only through cooperation that walls fall down and that the universal becomes a reality: ‘the universal is the local minus the walls’ – a quote from Miguel Torga.”
It involves taking advantage of a monstrous shock to our social and economic system while we are too preoccupied to stop them. People behind corporations actually “game” the future like this – methodically planning to force through changes to society that they always wanted but couldn’t find an acceptable justification for while you were looking. A crime committed right under your nose – while you are worrying about losing your job or paying your rent or your grandma getting sick from Covid-19.
In the case of today’s story of a Brazillian Street Artist named Mundano, the earth, and soil that he used to paint his new mural comes from the region destroyed by a dam break of toxic sludge last January. With hundreds of townspeople and workers swept away by tens of millions of tons of toxic sludge and earth, the people of the area held searches for weeks after and had public meetings full of accusations and fury. They also had funerals.
A similar dam owned by the same company had failed only three years earlier, and many more dams like this are holding immense reservoirs, or poison underground lakes, across Brazil – each potentially breaking apart and poisoning land, water, wildlife, and communities for decades after.
Mundano’s mural honors the workers killed in this man-made environmental disaster and he tells us that the 800 square meter piece references another painting Brazillian modernist called Tarsila do Amaral. Painted in 1933, her work titled “The Factory Workers,” depicts a sea of stern faces with gray clouds rising from factory smokestacks in the background. Mundano says he’s proud of his mural, of the mini-documentary here, and of his neighbors and country people who have raised attention to a situation that appears corrupt, and well, toxic to life.
“In January 2019, Brazil has suffered one of the worse environmental crimes of its history,” says Mundano, “when Vale do Rio Doce’s mining dam broke, contaminating the Paraopeba River with a sea of toxic mud, and killing everything that was in the way, including almost 300 people who lost their lives that day,” he tells us. We talk to him about artists using their work to educate and raise awareness to advocate for political or social change, a term often today called ‘artivism’.
Brooklyn Street Art:With reason, there’s a lot of anger against the government and the owners of the mine about this fatal catastrophe. How did you get involved? Mundano: The environmental and social causes are a big part of my activism or artivism, and I’ve always been a critic of the exploitation of lands for mining purposes. We have over 200 mining dams operating today in Brazil under the risk of breaking. In the last four years we had two of the biggest catastrophes of our country, both in the state of Minas Gerais; Mariana in 2017 and most recently in 2019 in the city of Brumadinho, where a “tsunami” of toxic mud contaminated the Paraopeba river with 12.7 million cubic meters of sludge, dragging everything that was on the way, including almost 300 people who lost their lives.
As an artivist it is really important for me to be present and see what happened with my own eyes, feel the pain of the victim’s families, follow closely to the inquiry and use the platform and reach that I have as an artist to help these people find justice, and most importantly to put pressure on governments and big companies so that they’re held accountable, preventing this from happening again.
Brooklyn Street Art:What is the role of an artist should be in his/her community? Should art respond to social needs? Mundano: For over 13 years now, I’ve been practicing artivism in several cities across the globe. My actions and the art I create need to have a bigger purpose. For me, art has the power of bringing reflection into society and impact people’s lives, make them think and reflect on their part in society. That’s how I see my art and how I believe I can contribute to bigger causes. I wouldn’t say it’s every artist obligation, but with these huge global challenges naturally we’re gonna need to become more artivists.
Brooklyn Street Art:The community felt betrayed and abandoned by those who were supposed to protect them. How did they get the strength to rise up and fight in the middle of their pain? Mundano: I can’t speak for them but I feel that they don’t have other options than to fight for their rights. Brazilians are quite resistant to adversities by nature. One of the main subjects of my work is the cactus, a plant that, like a big portion of our population, survives with little and still manages to share beauty with flowers to the world. It is hard to see a whole city and it’s people destroyed by such a horrible crime, yet, it was such a strong image to watch mothers, wives, sons, daughters, and friends united, marching a year later, screaming for justice, not giving up on the memories of their loved ones. That gave me strength and inspired me to create my biggest and most important work up until today to honor them.
Brooklyn Street Art:Your mural honors and remember those whose lives were lost. Yet there’s some poetic beauty in it with the pigments you used to paint it. You made the paint from the sediment in the river and the earth around it. What were your feelings as you were painting these people faces these materials? Mundano: The whole process of collecting the mud from the lakebed of Paraopeba River was delicate. I felt the need to talk to residents, local activists, and the families. It was important that I had their consent and that they understood my intentions. The mural was a way of keeping the subject alive, and to honor them in one of the biggest cities in the world, Sao Paulo. I believe that the respect I’ve shown was recognized as I started to receive messages from Brumadinho’s residents about the video, thanking me for the painting, and for me, that’s the biggest recognition of all, it made it all worth it.
sound does a cactus make? What a ridiculous question.
you know the answer if you are on Iracema Beach that borders a neighborhood
located in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza. The new sculpture cactus features bells
crafted from recycled old fire extinguishers of different sizes, says its
creator, the Street Artist and inventor of public art, Narcelio Grud.
People have been grabbing the ropes on this musical piece, each bell creating a different musical note. Mr. Grud has created many musical interventions of his own free will over the last decade that enable people to make music in public space – like the one at a bus stop a few years ago for example.
This one was installed during a big musical event called Férias na Praia de Iracema. It’s a free entrance music event organized by the local government, but you can still make your own music with Grud’s cactus anytime you like. It’s easy, says Grud,
“The bells are activated through the ropes attached to the bell clappers, allowing people to interact with the artwork.”
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Swoon and The Heliotrope Foundation: A Catalyst For Local Change 2. One Minute Dance: Petites Deambulations Sur “Paradis Perdus” 3. Festival Concreto #5 – Narcelio Grud in Fortaleza, Brazil 4. Murfy Paints Mural for La Fiesta de los Corremayo
BSA Special Feature: Swoon and The Heliotrope Foundation: A Catalyst For Local Change
term economic development? From a Street Artist? Sustainable homes? Jobs?
if the question is about Cormiers, Haiti and the answer is Street Artist Swoon
with her Heliotrope Foundation. You can draw a direct through-line from her
earliest wheatpastes of people on the street to the earthquake surviving Haitians
whom these buildings and programs are for and from. By listening, sharing, and
working alongside, the volunteers and foundation have been building community. And
you thought it was all about vandalism, didn’t you?
One Minute Dance: Petites Deambulations Sur “Paradis Perdus”
Nadia Vadori-Gauthier, the performance artist behind the project One Minute of Dance Per Day, has teamed up with other dancers for a new project titled Petites deambulationssur “Paradis Perdus”
Festival Concreto #5 – Narcelio Grud in Fortaleza, Brazil
For 6 years artist, professor, and organizer Narcelio Grud has gradually
grown the Concreto Festival in Forteleza. As he and the team prepare for
November’s new edition, he tells BSA readers about this video recap of Concreto
“In the timespan of 9 days, downtown Fortaleza received more than 40 artists from Brazil and all over the world to participate in the 5th edition of Festival Concreto – International Festival of Urban Art. Great names from the urban art scene, such as Mônica Nador, Guto Lacaz, Inti Castro, Sabek, SatOne and others, met between November 16 and 24 to color and democratize art in the city.
In the year of 2018, the Festival brought interventions and other activities
to Downtown neighbourhood in Fortaleza, Brazil, called ‘Centro’. The idea was
to occupy and reestablish the connection with an area of the city that was once
a great place of cultural movement, especially in the city’s ‘Belle Époque’. All
this brought color and movement to the local landscapes, realigning the
neighbourhood to a greater valorization of urban culture.
In the video, you can watch most of the activities and artworks that took place in the Festival, as well as participant artists, staff members and the general public talking about their experience within Concreto.”
Murfy Paints Mural for La Fiesta de los Corremayo
Muralist Murfy was in the south of Spain to paint this four-story portrait of a child on the street. “This is a girl dressed in a harlequin costume,” he says of the outfit, “a typical feature at a party in southern Alhama de Murcia, which is where this is.” The La Fiesta de los Corremayo is at the end of April and beginning of May and features bands, music, food, and lots of dancing in the streets by people wearing variations of the harlequin.
As we draw closer to the new year we’ve asked a very special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2018 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for them. It’s a box of treats to surprise you with every day – and conjure our hopes and wishes for 2019. This is our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ to you for inspiring us throughout the year.
Today’s special guest:
Narcelio Grud, Brazilian Street Artist, sculptor, public interventionist and inventor. Founder of the Concreto Festival of International Urban Art, now in its 5th year in Fortaleza.
May the bells of 2019 chime new chords, may the sea wash and clean all that is needed and change the energy of the world!
May the fascism that shakes Brazil and other countries be swept by the firmness and tenderness of love.
And may we be strong, resistant and conscious in these times of struggle.
Brazilian Street Artist Panmela Castro is unveiling her new three story high mural in Rio de Janeiro that acknowledges the sisterhood that comes from shared pain. She calls it “Dororidade” and tells BSA that it explains the relationship of affection and solidarity between women who have bonded through experiences of anguish and misery.
“It creates an image of two black women joined by their hair, sisters of shared minds, ideas, experiences,” says the artist, who has painted murals advocating for women’s rights, power, and showcased beauty in more than 30 cities around the world. In addition to overt violence, Castro says that this mural is addressing, “The pain that hurts when being attacked by machismo and the pain that hurts when being attacked by racism.”
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Yok & Sheryo: Mumbai “Varuna Vessel”
2. Mr. June Paints in June
3. Concreto #4 , Fortaleza, Brazil
4. Doug Gillen takes on Email Art Scams
BSA Special Feature: Yok & Sheryo: Mumbai “Varuna Vessel”
The Street Art duo of Sheryo and Yok plumb the depths of the urban environment in their travels, getting to know a culture and the people there – a full immersion practice that helps them conceptualize and fashion street murals, gallery shows and exhibitions that utilize the traditions, lore, language, and even the skills of local tradespeople.
This week we have a travelogue to the Sassoon docks in Mumbai where they collaborate with fisherman and women friends, fabricators and textile designers in the street, on a boat, and ultimately in an exhibition called “Varuna Vessel”. Extra points awarded here for the soundtrack, dropped on you in typical S&Y style like a needle on a record, no fade, all funk.
Mr. June Paints in June
Last month Mr. June was in Greensboro, North Carolina to paint a 45 meter diameter water tank roof. In the southern heat for 13 days painting? Give it up for Mr. June, who calls this job for a water resources facility his ode to the beauty of water.
Concreto #4 , Fortaleza, Brazil
Before the 5th Concreto Festival kicks into motion this November it’s good to look at the final video they made from the last one.
The brainchild of artist and organizer Narcélio Grud, the festival is in partnership with an urban art school that provides students with a theoretical background and support for intellectual experimentation with this kind of art in the streets that melts barriers.
Doug Gillen takes on Email Art Scams
As if it isn’t already challenging enough to be an artist – for the 99% without who are decidedly stressed for time, money, and a publicist. No matter, there are still lowlifes who will try to scam you bro/sis. Occasionally right through your inbox!
Public Security Officer Gillen introduces this underworld of squirrelly types who will try to persuade you into giving over your money to them for massaging your ego. We know that may sound appealing to some of you but in this case the only stripper involved is you, sexy.
The Greek Street Artist INO has been consistently observing the social and political factors that are at play in modern society and has been addressing these themes through his work painting large murals in more cities around the world. This week in Fortaleza aside the Atlantic in northeastern Brazil, INO created a headless female form that for him is evocative of a socio-political order that is “Broken”.
“This is a place where someone can see very big contradictions,” he tells us, “the poverty in the street, people begging for food – while you eat in the restaurant, the prostitutes every night in the streets.”
He shows us a photo of a street scene where women are being questioned by the police that he took at night while he was painting his wall from the vantage point of his lift up above. His imagination is activated by the scene, and he thinks of the frightening circumstances that women in the sex trade are put in that exploit them repeatedly.
“All of this, together with the rich people, the expensive apartments in huge luxury buildings that look empty, surrounded by barbed wire fences in each condominium yard…” It all is disturbing to him, and a scene repeated in many cities in so-called developed nations where the stratification between rich and poor is getting more pronounced than ever before in the modern era, leaving more feeling powerless and easily victimized.
For his new mural entitled “Broken”, completed here during the 4th Concreto Festival, the anonymous form is an obvious reference to people caught in a de-humanizing system. “The piece is depicting a naked thin woman in a position of offering her body, with a black splash coming from the head,” he says.
The 10th Meeting of Favela (MOF) is a homegrown Graffiti and Urban Art mural festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that has happened every November/December with more than hundreds of national and international artists. To give you an idea of scale, some estimates of the number of artists who flock here number well past a thousand and include participants from the Americas and Europe in addition to Brazilians.
Even though the huge multi-day event contains many of the familiar signposts of other Urban and Graffiti Art Festivals; live hip hop music performances, MCs, DJS, live B-boying (breakdancing), theatrical and circus elements, for example, the organizers of MOF take pride that they are the considered by many as the largest voluntary Urban Art event in the world.
There are other significant differences, according to long time documentor of this global street scene, photographer and living urban art icon Martha Cooper, who says that she had been to Sao Paulo a number of times but never to Rio despite hearing of Meeting of Favela many times over the last few years.
“Unlike most Street Art festivals,” Cooper tells us, “MOF is open to all artists to paint.” This alone is a departure from the increasingly curated and selective Street Art festivals that are held in many cities today. Additionally, the wall allocation is more organic and inclusive of a social contract between residents and artists – an important and very significant rule, says Ms. Cooper.
“Artists must find their own walls,” she says. “This means they must walk around the favela and interact with the residents to get their permission before starting to paint. Some artists have established relationships with owners and return every year to paint the same wall. Other residents recruit artists and ask them to paint something special, such as a portrait.”
What about supplies? “Artists must supply their own paint – however MOF organizers often arrange to have discounted paint available on site.”
Modeled loosely after the popular and global “Meeting of Styles” graffiti events, this one intends to be more inclusive and engaged with the community. You can see that it is primarily a graffiti event but there are influences from what is more commonly considered the Street Art scene as well as traditional community murals. “The favela was full of pretty much every style of letters and images,” says Ms. Cooper.
Painting on selected individual walls begins in earnest on Sunday so on Saturday artists paint on a long collaborative wall at the base of Vila Operária, in Duque de Caxias, a real meeting of styles. “In addition there were spray workshops for the kids, a graffiti clown who juggled spray cans, a brass band, b-boys and b-girls breaking with live DJs, and numerous bars and food stands,” says Martha.
A volunteer run organization, Meeting of Favela relies on people who love the community, the culture, and the artists to keep this many constituencies happy and involved. While much of Urban Art’s early roots are associated with rebellious acts of mark-making conceived of and delivered antagonistically with negative or cynical intentions, at the opposite pole is a true community festival like this that successfully celebrates the creative spirit in myriad ways.
Not to mention how organized they have to be. “An experienced band of volunteers, many who have participated for years, is on hand to facilitate the artists and handle any problems on the spot,” Ms. Cooper reports.
Naturally it feels like it is impossible to document completely. “There were so many fresh walls tucked away up and down the narrow streets and around every corner it was impossible for me to find and photograph them all,” says Cooper. But somehow, looking over the photos she collected and remembering the atmosphere, it was okay if she missed a couple of opportunities.
“The favela was intensively alive with residents and visitors mingling freely and happily,” she says.
As we near the new year we’ve asked a special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2016 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for him or her. It’s an assortment of treats for you to enjoy and contemplate as we all reflect on the year that has passed and conjure our hopes and wishes for the new year to come. It’s our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ for inspiring us throughout the year.
Pedro Alonzo is a Boston-based independent curator, writer, art advisor and recognized authority on Street Art who has worked with museums, private collections, and such artists as Banksy, Shepard Fairey, JR, Swoon, and Os Gemeos among others. This year Pedro looks at images from his travels and tells us that the simplest joys are sometimes the best ones.
Guarulhos, Estado de Sao Paulo, Brazil
February 3, 2016
Photo by Pedro H. Alonzo
I stumbled upon this mural while looking for parking in Guarhulos, Brazil, the home of Sao Paulo’s international airport. Due to difficulty finding parking and traffic congestion, I was able to take the photo on our fourth trip around the block.
In a city that boasts kilometer after kilometer of roadside murals, it was refreshing to find this image painted on the side of a laundromat. It is direct, funny and simple. I often think about how much I enjoyed being surprised by superheroes in their underwear.
I love coming across informal forms of expression such as this. No permits, no copyright, just do it.
From Rio, “The Goddess of Victory” by Brazilian artist Panmela Castro on the Boulevard Olímpico. Fresh off her PM/10 mural in front of the under construction Urban Nation in Berlin, Panmela says that she feels lke she won an Olympic medal to paint this Greek goddess in her home country.
A performance artist who is not afraid to challenge patriarchal structures about femininity and gender fluidity, and with whom we’ve talked to about carving words into her own body with a blade, Castro is no intellectual lightweight. So we take Ms. Castro seriously when she brings this winged woman to the Olympics – “the goddess that personifies victory, triumph and glory,” she tells us.
Education should not be out of reach. Without it people are captives, especially when technology and resources are kept just beyond your grasp. Bluntly stated, keeping entire populations and countries uneducated plays directly into the hands of those who would manipulate them.
Street Artist Apolo Torres is an important player in Brazilian contemporary muralism and here he brings São Paulo on board with London, New York, Toronto, Sydney and Cape Town for an initiative called #EducationIsNotACrime.
Begun in 2014 by filmmaker and Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari, the campaign continues to expand in defense of a universal right to education.
In these exclusive photos Torres is seen scaling a tower to depict a girl whose reaching for a cloud of books, not quite clamping her small hand around one. Wrapped around her feet is a serpent, representing those who would prefer to keep her ignorant.
A father of two young girls himself, the topic is close to Torres’ home and heart, which is why he is excited about the conversations he will spark by doing this huge mural, which he tells us took more than 200 liters of paint. “It is essential that it dialogues with the place and the people who walk by and see the work. Public artworks have a huge potential to raise relevant issues to society,” he says in a press release.