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.
running! It’s 20 meters along this wall on the inner courtyard of
the Bac de Roda Housing Cooperative in Poblenou, a neighborhood of Barcelona,
The new stop-action installation is meant to freeze for a moment the emotions and sensations that can occur during migration – which many people are forced today to do all over the world, whether they are escaping from hardship, fear, war, environmental extremes, or decimated economies.
Vázquez wants us to think about the distance that people run, and how crossing
a simple national boundary can be the difference between life and death. If you
studied Western art history, these figures may also call to mind warriors and
heroes of so-called classical antiquity.
says he has captured “through a sequence of movements, different snapshots
which reflect a mosaic of unique expressions.” This, he says, is “a figure who
symbolically represents all who they have made a migratory journey risking
Cadiz, now living in Barcelona, Vázquez is participating in the fourth edition
of MURAL / LOCAL, an artistic action that annually renews this wall. He would
like to thank his subject Mourad as well as his fellow artist Magda Cwik, who
assisted him in hanging the new installation. Our thanks go to photographer Lluis
Olive Bulbena, who shares his photos of this new work with BSA readers.
Barcelona, Spain has begun
the process of re-opening the city from the confines of Covid-19. Lluis Olive,
a frequent BSA collaborator tells us that phase I of re-opening includes bars
and restaurants but only at 50% of their capacity. Stores under 400 square
meters are also allowed to re-open. Groups up to 15 individuals are permitted
to gather in public as well. For him this is a welcome relief for much needed
And what does a street art
fan and photographer do when you let him outside after weeks stuck in his home?
That’s right, he captures the voice of the artists in the public sphere.
Here Mr. Olive shares a few
shots on the streets of Barcelona – artists’ view on the pandemic.
Typically you may expect to be praying the novena and asking God for absolution of your dastardly sins here in this sprawling compound called The Konvent near Barcelona. While no one would stop you today, you may also wish to check out a number of new installations throughout the many buildings by Street Artists.
The Roman Catholic former convent hosted 50 or so artists over the last couple of years to transform the space, perhaps to reinterpret its original charge in a modern light, perhaps just to ready the compound for commercial, cultural, and community pursuits of the owners.
Certainly the decaying spaces and austere aesthetic is inviting, calming, possibly frightening, depending on your associations. Now they are home for music, dance, theatre, film festivals, and artist residencies – often offered only in Catalan but some also in European Spanish.
As you walk through the spaces you are welcomed by these works by artists, many of them at one time or another categorized as Street Artists, whose voices now usher in a new era of contemplation and perhaps internal exploration.
Our thanks to photogapher and BSA contributor Lluis Olive Bulbena for sharing these images from El Konvent.
For more information about El Konvent please Click HERE