Grey City Movie

“We the people”

What do you know about We the people‘s poster?


Everybody knows Banksy. Some people might never have heard of Banksy’s name, but they probably had already shared or liked one of his arts. I can go even further saying those people might not even know that art was a graffiti. Yes, a lot of people might have liked and shared Banksy’s arts thinking it was only a nice internet political drawing.girl-with-a-balloon-by-banksy

Do you remember seeing a beautiful drawing of a girl with a red heart-shaped balloon? You might have seen it on a tattoo, a lot of people have it. It is Banksy’s and it is a graffiti, not only a beautiful internet drawing.

You may think I’m about to say that Banksy is the artist behind We the People posters. No, he is not, but they might be related, though.

His name is Shepard Fairey, the artist of Barack Obama’s famous Hope poster and also a famous street artist known by his Obey Giant poster.

I didn’t remember who he was until just after the historic Women’s March here in Washington-DC, even though I knew him and his art for a long time. I just haven’t connected the dots.

I knew him from Banksy’s Exit through the gift shop documentary released back in 2010. Banksy’s movie is about himself, street art, activism and several other street artists (It’s a great movie about street art, you should watch it!!).

We the people was a crowdfunding campaign created by the Amplifier Foundation to print and distribute Shepard Fairey, Ernesto Yerena, and Jessica Sabogal’s images on a large scale for Trump’s Inauguration Day to “flood Washington, DC with NEW symbols of hope” against intolerance, fear, and hate. I didn’t go to the Inauguration, I went to Women’s March instead and it was filled with We the People posters everywhere.

I think art can wake people up because when an image resonates emotionally we want to get to the bottom of it. And art really helps people feel things that then they talk about.” (Shepard Fairey).

Something is crystal clear here: graffiti, or street art, is not vandalism. You could say “pichação” (which is not the same as graffiti) is vandalism. However we could debate on it since its in a grey blurred area between a simple act of vandalism and a cry for freedom of speech and manifestation.

So, the bottom line is: graffiti might be the most democratic way of raising awareness about social and political issues through art.

Graffiti might be seen as a defiance and a “rebellion against tyranny and oppression” according to the Preamble of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Art and culture making its way to reach everybody, not only restricted to an elite in Museums or Art Galleries. It’s like Joshua Bell playing violin at L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station everyday, not only in a Concert Hall for U$ 100,00 a ticket.

Graffiti usually doesn’t ask for permission to express its freedom of speech, and, sometimes, it is used by street artists to questioning the oppressive establishment.

This is how deep the graffiti activism is as a Human Rights’ expression fighting for Human Rights.

Meanwhile, the recently elected São Paulo City mayor, João Dória, declared war on graffiti and painted grey, among other street arts, the largest graffiti wall in Latin America – like the world’s 3rd largest city doesn’t have more urgent issues to be addressed.

He’s done the same as Kassab did (São Paulo City mayor before Fernando Haddad’s mayorship). The Grey City, another great documentary, shows Kassab’s lost war on graffiti. You should watch it also!

Thus, in less than a week Dória already lost this war and was forced to change his mind. São Paulo City Hall will pay street artists to repaint the city. Dória spent tax payers’ money to paint a colorful city grey, and now is going to spend more money to paint a grey city colorful again.

History indeed repeats itself.

It seems there is an in between the lines hidden message here: color means diversity, plurality, tolerance, empathy, more Human Rights.

Think about it!