NEW ZEALAND

This piece by @onurpainting was done in March 2017 in Napier, New Zealand for @pangeaseed @seawalls_ project. A clear message from ONUR, no matter whether you see the world as half-full or empty, upside down or right side up, the end result is the same – a complete and utter disregard for our planet.

Over the last few months, everyone’s noticed how air quality has improved. For example, during lockdowns with no commuting or air travel, China saw 25% reductions in carbon emissions, and 50% reductions in nitrogen oxide emissions.

In early July the International Energy Agency (IEA) will lead a summit to stage a green recovery from Covid-19. The idea is to bring together those countries (developed and developing), accounting for a majority (80%) of global emissions. The idea to address the ongoing climate change crisis’ via furthering renewable energy, energy efficiency, and hopefully providing millions of green jobs around the world. It’s also being organized in a way to incentivize countries that lack focus in climate-change as a priority. By addressing employment at this particular time, that carrot could be enough to at least push those begrudgingly along.

The piece is entitled, ‘The Last Island.’

When created, per ONUR:

Summer and winter are inching closer, the four seasons melting together. Due to climate warming, to which we are undoubtedly contributing, polar icecaps and glaciers are shrinking. The Arctic is bound to set yet another summer melt record this year. An iceberg shouldn’t have to drift past a North Sea beach, for us to realize just how close our relationship to the Arctic and Antarctic is. My mural depicts the post apocalyptic scenario of the last iceberg.

Action:
Consider reducing your carbon footprint by:

  • Saving energy and opting for renewable energy when possible.
  • Choosing climate-friendly transportation such as walking, bicycling, switching to an electric or hybrid car.
  • Reducing your meat and dairy consumption and eating more plant-based foods.

Covid Update – Part1- The Dilemma

This @spyurbanart piece, SONAR (“To Dream”) seems to resonate with the current state of affairs in my own world, and at large.

For the first couple of months of this mess, it’s been quite difficult for me to form the appropriate perspective, or lens, to publicly frame my own experiences related to this Corona situation. For one, up until a couple of days ago, my attention has been focused on responding to the echoes of Covid-19 as it rippled it’s way through each and every one of my own houses. And even still, it seems this respite is temporary, currently sheltered within the eye of the storm.

More so, I have found it difficult to write about my own hardships especially as so many people around the world are ill, losing loved ones, struggling to feed their families, and/or seeking employment. However, I remind myself that our own individual circumstances, regardless of the severity, are quite real, and we’ve all been suffering in our own ways.

And while I remain fortunate, and appreciative of everything around me, my life has dramatically changed in many aspects. So much so, that I haven’t even had much time to process what comes next, or how to even approach my future which currently seems to hold more questions, than certainties.

I’m currently checking in from São Paolo, Brazil, where I have been, solo, since 10 March. It was only about a week into my stay in Brazil I followed France’s guidance on isolating, when the world started to turn itself upside down.

A couple weeks after that (late March), realizing the magnitude of this pandemic, things got quite real as all borders closed simultaneously, and I was faced with a rather serious dilemma on where best to seek shelter. Those options became strictly limited to either flying to the US, my country of origin, or riding it out here in São Paulo, Brazil’s epicenter.

The problem with such a decision was that there was, and remains, no good option, each presenting their own host of problems. And that seems quite evident today, as America is leading the great race, and Brazil currently in second by a wide margin.

At the time, I myself didn’t know whether or not I was sick with the virus. I am still not convinced I haven’t already contracted corona. Early on, I was presenting symptoms, the most serious being this immense tightness in my chest, and difficulty breathing. I came very close to going to the hospital to seek help before getting talked down by a friend, suggesting it could very well be panic attacks. And they were – I had just never experienced one up until this point.

I think what exacerbated the situation in my own mind/sense of safety, was that the decision I felt was best, went against the advice of each trusted person in my inner-circle. Because of the range in perspectives funneling in from various backgrounds, cultures whatever, generally both sides of the coin present themselves clearly. That was not the case here. There wasn’t really anyone that thought staying in Brazil was a wise move – except for me. Going against the grain of everyone’s opinions, whom I valued and needed, took me over the edge. And what made my decision to stay down here so difficult to swallow.

It was clear to me at the time that waiting it out here in Brazil had it’s own host of problems. The likelihood of the situation spinning out of control was apparent from the get-go. Also, the strong language barrier, ability to source reliable news in Portuguese, not really getting any understanding of the city (or its sources for reliable information) before lockdown…all issues.

But to fly back to the USA presented it’s own very real set of impediments. Problem is – I don’t live in America, or anywhere (another topic for another time). The closest thing I have to a home is in Catalonia, and that was off the table. As a free-lancer, I don’t qualify for free healthcare in the US. So even if I wanted to get back in March, the likelihood of contracting covid was high – especially back then, while everyone else was rushing back to their respective homes. In fact, a study was done a month or so ago, attributing the further spread of covid into America as a result of this frenzied state of those trying to get back to their homes within America. If you think about it for a minute, it makes sense, right? Even if only 5% of the people within any airport were infected at the time, it seemed likely that this could spread to the majority of people passing through that airport, and from any point of that trip (door to door). It would then further infect smaller communities as a result. So during this time when everyone was rushing home, it didn’t seem wise to leave.

Keep in mind, this is based on the knowledge known back in late March. The great debate over the effectiveness of masks hadn’t yet occurred…not like it would have mattered, as those back in the US continue to waste time and energy discussing this. At the time, our best defense / advice was washing your hands and distancing yourself from others…the latter impossible in airports/airplanes.

Many of my friends back home said, yeah, but I heard that the US will cover coronavirus related medical expenses. I had seen the same news reports, and I just didn’t buy it. Now, as the situation develops, articles and reports are beginning to surface suggesting the opposite. Some people, even with insurance, are getting stuck with up to $75,000 in out of pocket medical expenses.

It was an impossible dilemma, as staying in Brazil isn’t completely much better. It wasn’t hard to see the likely potential for the situation in Brazil to get out of control. But I ultimately decided to stay here.

Aside from being alone in a major city I hadn’t known, with a strong language barrier, I did not fully understand the extent of how bad things can get. I mean, yeah, in a developing country, of course I considered the worst case scenarios – runs on the bank, or food, water and medicine. Social unrest. I considered the potential for military intervention. All thankfully non-issues currently, though these last few months Brazil’s President has been stacking his interior with generals, replacing experts that disagree with his agenda / ulterior motives. Though you’ve seen that extensively in the US, as well with Trump having his cabinet stacked with his cronies and firing anyone that disagrees with him.

I mean fuck, at this time you’re going to pull support from The WHO, when what we need is a concerted and cooperative global response? And then a month later, file to repeal Obamacare via the stacked Supreme Court cutting healthcare for 23 million people? During a pandemic? …the fuck man.

“It’s been incredibly frustrating to be stuck in a country who’s president mirrors and emulates that of America.”

So on that note, it’s been incredibly frustrating to be stuck in a country who’s president mirrors and emulates that of America. There are a lot of reasons I chose to leave the USA in 2014. Frankly, one of them was largely political. And that was even well before Trump was even a consideration to run for President.

There seems to be a special kinship between Brazil’s Bolsonaro, and Trump. Many locals have told me about how President B looks up to Trump in certain ways. It’s quite obvious. In fact, before the lockdown, the last place Bolsonaro visited outside of Brazil, was Trump at his Mar a Lago property in Florida.

In this moment, the decisions our leaders make, wherever you may be, are impacting us in real-time. For example, it’s not some financial policy that will slowly, over the next 20 years, further erode the middle-class…they affect us directly, and extremely, now.

It’s absurdly ironic to consciously live outside of the United States, but then be stuck in, and subjected to, the politics of a president that most mirrors that of the U.S. One that identifies more with the economy, and one that also relies on the tactics of creating confusion and chaos in order to distract from the real issues transpiring. So to be here, watching the situation erode on a daily basis, is some cosmically unlucky kick in the balls.

There are many issues with the government in Brazil as the president refuses to act on this crisis – willing to let many people die in order to save the economy. It is this herd immunity concept that many other countries considered, but ultimately [and correctly] determined was not the best course of action. There is still little testing taking place (all of which is inefficient/delayed), and many of the deaths via pneumonia or respiratory failure are not being tagged as corona related. This can be seen when you compare prior years’ average deaths via these illnesses, vs what we’ve seen so far in 2020. And like in the US, the Federal government is poorly supporting, and flat-out undermining the State governments, and ultimately its people.

What’s worse is that we’re in the Southern Hemisphere, so it’s currently winter, where this virus can really thrive, and with flu season in the mix. And yes, it is possible to have both covid and flu at the same time. Given all this, SP is likely one of the worst places to be stuck during this pandemic. Next to NYC, São Paulo is now the second-worst worst hit city globally.

The favelas here have had serious problems containing this virus. With lack of clean water, no space for social distancing, and an absolute need to continue to work to provide food for their families. Cartel’s have taken to the streets to enforce self-mandated curfews, distribute supplies, etc..

For me, São Paulo, and Brazil on the whole, has always been this unattainable unicorn. For nearly 15 years I have wanted to get here, as it’s significance and major contributions to the graffiti and public art movements are undeniable. For one reason or another, it was just never fit. And now I am finally here, nearly 4 months deep, patiently waiting for my opportunity to document the walls, and those artists that create them. With the reality that this virus isn’t going away anytime soon, and it will still be a couple months before I can head back to Europe…it’s time to embrace this situation…take it as an opportunity, and dig my heels in, and accomplish what I’ve intended all along.

More on that soon.


CHILE

“2020 feels. @ellapitr in Valparaiso, Chile. Taken April 2018″


URUGUAY

A day with @daviddelamano_ .

While in Montevideo, Uruguay a couple years back, I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with David de la Mano. Over the course of my two week stay, we spent a few days together hanging out in various settings. Here are a few snaps of my favorite day shared. It takes place in an abandoned farm house outside of the city. A place he returns to every now and again to get some space and create. The entire structure is virtually a shrine of his work, with every corner represented in his silhouette-style.

While David spends a lot of time on large-scale murals, it’s quite special to see his work in its original form / scale. Even though the content matter is similar, it’s somehow more poetic for me to experience his work in this decrepit dream-scape.

Days spent doing this way are days well spent.

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