Street art can promote conversation and highlight social, political and environmental issues and has always been a powerful platform to convey messages to the masses. Check out the street art murals brought to us in 2016 that promote injustices and inspire hope for our future…
Banksy was busy at the start of the year this time in the city of London, to again criticise the conditions of the Calais jungle. The Calais jungle is the nickname given to a migrant encampment in the vicinity of Calais, France, where migrants live while they attempt to enter the United Kingdom. Here Banksy paints the famous image of the young orphaned girl ‘Cosette’ from Les Misérables with tear gas being let off into her eyes. The piece represents the Victims camping in the Calais Jungle, and where tear gas is allegedly being used to clear the camp by the French authorities, another message Banksy is sharing to the world about the poor conditions the refugees are facing.
February saw the end of OPEN SPACE, a street art initiative by aptART that aimed to inspire men and women as equal contributors to a healthy society, economy, and political system in Jordan. Five artists, Ruben Sanchez, Jonathan Darby ART, Kevin Ledo, Suhaib Attar artwork and Akut of HERAKUT joined forces with young adults in Jordan to discuss issues of importance to them on the topic of gender.The resulting pieces are a constant reminder from the community, for the community that a healthy society values the contributions of both men and women equally. The project finished with Suhaib Attar painting the lion to encourage people to be fearless for gender equality. Suhaib artwork painted a giant lion as a cross-cultural symbol of bravery and courage, because a lion doesn’t concern itself with the opinion of sheep.
In March el Seed’s travelled to Egypt for his street art initiative ‘Perception’, challenging the viewer to see things differently. El Seed found himself in Manshiyat Naser working with the Zaraeeb community. A community who have served as Cairo’s informal garbage collectors since approximately the 1940s and recycle an impressive 85 percent of the waste that they collect.The largest settlement is Mokattam village, nicknamed ‘Garbage City’, and is located at the foot of the Mokattam Mountains, next to Manshiyat Naser. The people who live and work there are known as a derogatory term Zabaleen, ‘The Garbage People”. Perceptions and stereotypes of the Zaraeeb community are that they live in garbage and are dirty, but what they really do is take in the waste of the city of Cairo and efficiently recycle, saving resources, the environment and producing a cleaner Cairo and the planet!
Biancoshock in April brought us his art installations ‘Borderlife’, highlighting homes underground. Bucharest, the capital of Romania has an entire generation of children who have grown up in the tunnels of the sewer system. They sought refuge in the tunnels in 1989 during the Romanian revolution. The Communist regime was overthrown and Romanian orphanages were closed down releasing thousands of children onto the streets to defend for themselves. Many took refuge in the sewer tunnels because they were heated by steam pipes, it was this or they would die on the cold streets.
Today these children, now adults, still live in the tunnels and have been joined by many homeless children and adults seeking warmth and safety from the tunnels beneath the roads. These living tunnels has inspired street artist Biancoshock’s art installations.
Over 9 days in May, the world’s most renowned street artists came to Manchester to stand alongside the oppressed and those that fight at their side for the The Cities of Hope festival. It is designed to amplify the messages of nine leading street artists Case, Axel Void, C215, Faith47, Hyuro, Whatson, Nevercrew, Phlegm and artist duo PichiAvo. Artists were asked to produce an inspirational mural on a cause that resonates with their own values. Each mural was matched to a local grassroots organisation to raise awareness and money.
Pichiavo’s value was Conflicts and they painted Hercules fighting the centaur Nessus. They supported ‘Guns to Goods’, a Community Interest Company that recycles metal from guns for use in the production of creative artifacts. It is an artists’ collective, partnering organisations who actively work within communities to reduce weapons based crime.
The Grenoble Street Art Fest wrapped up its second public art festival in June and we got to see Nevercrew highlighting environmental issues with their mural of the two whales wrapped up in a sheet and hung up by a coat hanger. Nevercrew’s murals always carry an underlying criticism of mankind and this mural reflects the relationship between nature and the human being, on the one hand there are feelings of need and belonging and on the other consumption. The artists paint the whales in a kind of delicate balance.
Italian artist Millo was invited to paint in Kiev, Ukraine for the Mural Social Club street art festival. Millo paints a 9-floor high building in Kiev, dedicating his mural to love…
“It is called “Love Runs the World”. It’s a message of peace in a city zone where there are just blocks and blocks and blocks for kilometers. Someone may say that it’s just a small flower in the concrete, but many flowers do a small garden” Millo
August saw New York based artist Dan Witz in London with his ‘Breathing Room’ project that saw him take-over the city’s red telephone boxes with an illusionistic painting of a person, of all cultural backgrounds and faiths, all in the midst of spiritual practice, and all projecting a quiet sense of inner peace, such as a young Buddhist boy, a hijab-clad young woman and a Hindu yogi. The project was meant to be an extension of his past activism with Amnesty International, However, the recent terror attacks in Europe have had a profound effect on Dan Witz.
“All of a sudden the dark and didactic subject matter that characterized my past installations seemed inappropriate. Some breathing room seemed called for” Dan Witz
aptART are back again with another worthy street art project titled ‘Paint outside the lines’, an international street art campaign, highlighting the importance of inclusive and diverse communities.
Ernesto Maranje was the first to paint a mural titled ‘ The Guardian’. As the wealth divide in the United States grows, so does the number of people made homeless, many of them youth. To address the reality of growing economic gaps and the impact that divide has on all of society, a public conversation is needed. To help spark that conversation youth from p:ear worked with Ernesto Maranje to paint a public wall. The youth painted their identity and things of importance into the shapes of flowers. A larger than life tiger stands guard above the flowers, protecting them as they develop and grow in a dreamy underwater world. Next to the tiger a bird takes flight representing the potential all humans have if nurtured and protected. Elements of coral and sea life adorn the tiger, bird and flowers, highlighting the connection we all share regardless of where we come from or where we are going.
Art United Us have been painting in Kiev non-stop since March, promoting peace through street art projects. Art United Us is an international project that collaborates through art with communities to raise public awareness and attention to the problem of war, aggression and violence. The project will see 200 walls painted over the next few years, starting in their home city Kiev, then around the world.
They have worked so hard and achieved so much this year with their conquest of promoting world peace. With the help of Australian street artist Guido Van Helten they have just wrapped up 2016 with the most significant mural yet. Australian artist Guido van Helten has just completed a large-scale mural in Avdiyivka, an eastern Ukrainian town in ATO territory (anti-terrorist operation zone), first front line.
“This work reflects the main goal of the project: to attract attention to the problem of war and violence” Iryna Kanishceva co-Founder/Curator/Photographer
Fintan Magee painted a wall titled ‘THE EXILE’ in East Amman with aptART. Inspired by Syrian children confined to refugee camps in Jordan, Fintan Magee painted a girl who had lost her parents fleeing Syria. Alongside a fading reflection of her past life she gazes into a future that is unknown. Children may arrive alone at refugee camps due to their parents lost in the war, death or abandoned.
Bordalo II is an urban artist who uses trash as his medium and recycles this into eye-catching and mind-blowing unique street art. Bordalo II reuses old car bumpers, worn down rubber tyres, thrown away plastics and transforms them into exceptional 3-D mural portraits of animals. His ‘Big Trash Animal’ series, which is an ongoing success, depicts animals all over the globe and utilises the very rubbish we are carelessly chucking away… the very wastage that is sabotaging these innocent animals environment. We are in a ‘one use’ culture, use and throw away, Bordalo II is using his art to convey the message that we need to be thoughtful and resourceful with waste. It has a much bigger impact on the environment than an aesthetic problem. December saw one of his most impressive sculptures to date, a bear against Candy Chang ‘Before I Die’ project.
Hope you enjoyed our retrospective look at 2016. There were so many worthy projects that we didn’t include so please drop a comment in the comments box below if any have captured your heart this year.
We will continue to bring you more street art projects and murals in 2017 so check back at a later date on our news page and keep up to date with daily street art activity from GraffitiStreet via Facebook and Instagram.
Happy and Healthy New Year!!
The GS Team :)