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Posted by joshuafoss
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Blu Street Art

So a small group of friends and I recently went on an epic trip throughout Europe.  We covered a lot of ground, spending a day in Copenhagen, another in Berlin, a full week in Istanbul, 5 days in Paris, then a day coming back through Stockholm… (yes, I’m calculating the carbon impact of this trip, and yes, offsets are definitely in order!)  Every city was incredible and unique in its own way… choosing a favorite would be like choosing a favorite child… tough, but not impossible : )  On a completely different but soon to make sense tangent, about a week before the trip I came across an amazing website called Unurth that highlights the best street art in the world.  One artist in particular caught my eye… a guy named Blu who’s created a series of larger than life compositions at various locations throughout the world that are not so subtle in their imagery.  Blu’s work is raw, in your face, and aimed right at the jugular of many of our impending problems… climate change, corporate greed, big oil, etc.  So check this out… my comrades and I were wandering aimlessly through Berlin and came across a large apartment building that had two of Blu’s pieces on them… It ‘blu’ my mind to think the one thing I had been amped on from the previous week presented itself to me in such a way.  I guess I was just really meant to see this guy’s stuff, right?!..

This was the first work we came across… it’s called ‘Backjump’ and was created in 2007… pretty powerful in its message when dissected.  My interpretation: Interconnectedness… the proverbial ‘we’ are all interconnected, and not just people.  All biodiversity is interconnected, including the millions of other species alive on the planet.  The significance of having the large body made up of smaller bodies is that each element that makes up our global body should be valued as much as a human life.  And the pink dude being sans pupils in his eyes suggests a lack of vision.  He’s about to eat the little white fella, not recognizing that it is indeed a replica of himself… so it’s a story about a lack of awareness…

On the same building was a piece that doesn’t require the same level of interpretation as the large pink canibal character… it’s pretty hard to misinterpret the meaning of this… take a look:

Drip by drip… a strong symbol for looming crisis known as climate change…

Moving along to a few other projects that Blu has created at other cities around world… In Grottaglie, Italy, he offered up a nice toxic pie for the world to see…

And a piece on our relationship with big oil and treatment of wildlife was commissioned in Stavenger, Norway for the Nuart Festival…

At the same festival, Blu created a piece not dissimilar to the ‘Backjump’ composition we first looked at… another man, this time made of pipes, drinking a cup of oil…  If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the long winding tube eventually leads to where his belly button would be, leaking the oil that he drinks directly into the water… the fish in this water are not too keen about this.

Both of these pieces on the oil industry are particularly powerful because the city that they are located in, Stavanger, is the petroleum capital of Norway…

This next one might be my fave… a pretty wicked commentary on transit choices can be seen in Milan alongside a raised boulevard.  I love not only the content of this, but also the composition… the scale of the art is massive, and from a distance the road made of autos seems to take the form of cobblestone…

And then we have our more corporate-fueled commentaries… the next two installations, the first in Taranto, Italy, and second in Lisbon, Portugal, are directed at the corporations who get off on puttin’ short-term profits over long-term stewardship…

All photos from unurth.com

Hoowa, not so subtle is the message here, eh?  A big bloated dude with crown of multi-national energy companies suckin’ the planet dry…

So yeah, this Blu guy is really pushing it, right?  Some pretty amazing work!  I’m curious what thoughts you might have on this in-your-face public art as a tactic to spread awareness… is it too much, forcing people to witness images that are undeniably discomforting?  Or do pieces like this create a certain value within a community, breathing color and voice to regions that may not always have that outlet?  And I’m curious to learn more about the locations and context of these larger-than-life street art pieces… it seems that many are located in tougher socio-economic areas, void of the people in more affluent regions that are the ones who the pieces are often targeting… Can you picture Blu doing a piece in Times Square, near the Louvre in Paris, or in downtown Shanghai?  Now that would be interesting!

And if you’re really vibin’ on this street art thing, I highly encourage you to spend some time exploring the Unurth site… there is some mind blowing work on their from dozens of different artists… follow this link HERE.

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