I'm still feeling the wobbly, slightly hung-over-from-dehydration feeling that comes the day after installing a sugar mural. The title of the mural is "LEGACY" and it was installed as part of Under Pressure Graffiti Festival in Montreal, on a wall in the Quartier des Spectacle, next to Metro St. Laurent. It's up, I'm happy with how it looks, and now I have to return regularly to document the weathering that comes with rain and sun.
A lot of people are asking what this mural and its imagery means? So this blog post offers more insight into why I decided to do this mural and what the meaning is behind the imagery.
In 2009 I lost someone very dear to me in Brazil. His name was Danilo Brandao Araujo. He was shot 3 times by the police and killed. It's a long story, but in short, he was not carrying a weapon, and not in the act of committing a crime. There was no justification to kill him. Yet his death sparked no protests or inquiries. No marches or vigils were held. No hashtags or tweets. This was just another ordinary day in Brazil. Another young black man shot dead by police. His own mother didn't even push for the truth. She knows the system. There will never be answers or truth. Asking too many questions just makes more trouble for yourself.
I was left feeling devastated, angry and powerless. For years I just held on to that anger, but not knowing what to do with it. Every time a young black man is killed unjustifiably by police, be it in Brazil, Canada or the US, I feel that wound re-open. My frustrations finally reached their limit a few months ago and I felt some clarity of how I might turn my anger into something productive: to make a sugar mural about this epidemic issue and hopefully bring about more discussion, protest and ultimately, change.
The central image in my mural is situated in the historic area of Salvador, Brazil. Those who have visited the area will recognize this area known as Pelourinho. What most may not know is that this word is the Portuguese word for "pillory" which is a whipping post. This is the place where slaves were brought to be whipped and publicly humiliated. I have included this location in my design as a symbol of colonization and slavery. The disproportional imprisonment and police shootings of black men in Brazil (as in other countries) can be considered the legacy of slavery; the modern day form of oppression. The anchor, chains and shackles in the design all relate to this same sentiment.
The 3 young men featured in the design were all killed by police. The situations were different and unrelated, but the outcome was the same. Their names are:
Danilo Brandao Araujo, 1982-2009
Wilton Esteves Domingos Júnior, 1996-2016
Roberto de Souza Penha, 2000-2016
The last 2 boys were killed along with 3 other young men when their car was loaded with bullets by police in a favela in Rio de Janeiro due to 'mistaken identity' (AKA: racial profiling). More info about that HERE and article in Portuguese HERE
Where the mural begins as a crisp and fresh image, it will erode in the rain and sun, devolving from decadence into decay; a symbol of memento mori as well as the destructive legacy that colonization continues to have. The painted imagery on the mural will quickly fade as a reminder of both actual loss as well as the fading attention these stories receive in the public consciousness.
NOTE: Blog post was updated August 22nd to show the erosion process that the mural underwent between August 16-22.