Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Street Art: To Help You Think

Imagine you lived in a city where there were 87 murders for every 100,000 people, ten times the rate considered an epidemic of violence by the World Health Organization. No, it's not Chicago, but Tegucigalpa, Honduras. A place of poverty, violence, and an absence of public services.

 Tegucigalpa, Honduras

It is on this city's walls that the Urban Maestro (Urban Master) goes about his business, "interventions", which happen to be graffiti. Before that, he was working in an advertising agency, which he quit and assumed an identity to address the issue of rampant violence in his city and country via his art.

The Urban Master at work

A city where the streets are deserted, where people only go shopping in large US-style shopping centers guarded by armed sentries.

Students on a vigil for peace

Passing motorists and security guards leave the hooded in cargo pants, death-mask wearing Urban Master alone with his own sentry, in his sisyphusian task, which given the situation is amply dangerous, not to mention illegal.


 It's a Feudal Dystopia, where armed bands ruled by petty warlords roam unfettered, and police hide from them, while murdering and robbing on their own. People demonstrate on the streets, risking their lives, and the government does not acknowledge them. The Urban Master says "This could be a beautiful city". It's a country where a coup d'etat was staged that the US recognized and declared legal.

His work centers around a simple trope: He puts up the classics of art, adding guns/weapons to them. For the Mona Lisa, a pink pistol, for a Magritte man in a bowler, a grenade instead of the green apple.

A security guard walks up while the Urban Master does a paste-up. He asks...

"Who pays you to do that?"

"No one," the artist answered.

"Then why do it?"

"To help you think."

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