What the hell just happened? Has it been a year? Or has it been 10 years? Or just one long nightmare/daymare? Or has it been 10 years? Did we already ask that?
In March 2020 we awoke to a world that was transforming before all of our eyes, yet we felt so cut-off from it and each other. The first days seem so long ago as we mark the first anniversary of the pandemic. Still, the initial shock of those days resonates in our chests so strongly that we confidently talk about a collective global trauma that has indelibly marked a generation.
From Stockholm to Mexico City to Barcelona to Bethlehem to New York to LA, BSA brought you street art that was responding with fear, derision, critique, hope, and humor to the never-static, always evolving barrage of Covid news. Stuck inside and afraid to expose ourselves to each other, we New Yorkers became accustomed to experiencing the outdoors only through our windows, connecting with neighbors we’ve never met who were also banging pots and pans or clapping and waving and yelling.
We listened to ambulances screaming past our windows every half hour or so during those first weeks, imagining the torn families, the terrified fellow New Yorkers now being rushed to the hospital and separated from their loved ones without a goodbye, gasping for air. We wondered if we would be next.
When we did go to the streets, they were empty – or nearly. In New York this was unheard of. In this bustling, noisy metropolis, we experienced a daily disconcerting quiet. That is, until the killing of George Floyd by cops finally pushed the anger/anxiety into the streets all summer.
The deadly hotspot of New York quelled, but the fires of Covid spread west, grabbing communities who thought they would avoid impact. At the same time, local, state, and national leaders fumbled and argued or famously callously ignored the desperation of citizens, occasionally admirably filling the shoes they were elected to occupy, often misstepping through no fault of their own.
We have no particular wisdom to offer you today beyond the obvious; this pandemic laid bare inequity, social and racial and class fault-lines, the shredded social net, the effect of institutional negligence, the ravages of 40 years of corporate privatization, and the power of community rising to the occasion to be in service to one another in ways that made us all more than proud.
Here are some of our favorite Covid-themed street art pieces from over the last year, a mere sampling of the artistic responses. Interspersed we paste screenshots of the daily events (via Wikipedia) in 2020 that shaped our lives, and our society.
We mourn the losses of family and friends and the broken hearts and minds in all of our communities. And we still believe in the power of art to heal and the power of love to balance our asymmetries.
As NYC went on complete lock-down and New Yorkers were ordered to remain in their homes in complete isolation the city’s residents organically joined together in a collective 7:00 pm ritual in support to the first responders. To the nurses, doctors, paramedics, trash collectors, public transportation, police, fire fighters, supermarkets workers etc…with their services and sacrifices we, the residents of this megalopolis were able to keep out hopes for brighter days to come.
Video of four former presidents urging people to “roll up your sleeve and do your part” and get the vaccine.
Here is our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Andrzej Urbankski, Dyke, False, Icy & SOT, Indigo, Jeice 2, Karma, Love Me, Nick Walker, Rambo, and Sorta. Somehow we’ve assembled a rather eclectic collection for you that includes some black and white billboard images by Jaime Rojo that are more on the graffiti tip, as well as new images from Baltimore, Berlin and Spain.
Speaking of black and white, we’ve noticed that quite a few artists are limiting their palettes to something more monochromatic lately. Have you noticed that too? It’s also kind of cool to see these new pieces from the Iranian Street Artists Icy and Sot, who have their first solo show coming up shortly in New York.
Our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Burning Candy, Deeker, DsCreet, Earl Greyhound, Goya, Jimmy Snatch, KARMA, Kill, Nineta, Paul Richard,Plasma Slug, Shin Shin, Skewville, Tek33, and UFO
Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy. http://4rbyf.th8.us #optimism #hope #beauty
103 characters and her followers would have had an update of exactly what Anne Frank was thinking. The inner life of this girl, as recorded in her diary, has inspired many an artist, author, movie director, painter, and writer to contemplate their own.
Irish stencil Street Artist Vango has just imagined Anne Frank as she might be today – sending her personal thoughts and observations, status updates. It’s a tricky minefield of human history to tread for an artist and the implications of a wireless data stream available to all are still being assessed by contemporary culture. As our historical touchstones are viewed through these new screens, sometimes it can be jolting and will raise questions. What parallels exist today, and what has been fundamentally changed by our creation?
Brooklyn Street Art:With this new stencil you have updated an image of Anne Frank using what we are calling “social media”. What inspired you to create this piece?
Vango: Well, I always like merging the past with the present in my work and I especially like painting historic characters using the modern equivalent of their chosen medium. Today everyone ‘s on Twitter or Facebook expressing themselves to the world, which is a positive thing, except 99% of what they say is irrelevant bulls**t. On the flip side, 65 years ago this young girl actually had something to say that was unheard in her lifetime.
Brooklyn Street Art:Tell us a bit about the Street Art scene in Ireland.
Vango: Obviously Ireland isn’t known for Street Art but there are some talented artists emerging, especially in the last year or two like KARMA, ADW, Canvaz, Maser and of course Conor Harrington.
Brooklyn Street Art:Who would you cite as an inspiration as an artist?
Vango: As a stencil artist it’s hard not to mention Banksy. Lots of stencil artists are reluctant to admit that Banksy had an influence on them at the risk of sounding like stale copy cats. That’s understandable but I’d rather be honest and admit that Banksy had a major role in my decision to pick up a can. The guy makes it look so easy again and again and the least he deserves is homage from newbie stencil artists.
Brooklyn Street Art:Why do you think Street Art is important and relevant in today’s art world? Vango: It’s there for everyone to see, like it or not. It demands to be noticed and as you can tell it’s succeeding. You can be on a train, walking to work or driving home and see art that’s just as thought provoking as art you have to go out of your way to find. I think that ‘s important because nobody seems to have time anymore. If you have a job and a favorite TV show, your day is spent.