The power of contemporary art: «Beauty will save the world»


Why we have re-thought street art 
Various forms of unauthorized art have always characterized the walls and public spaces of cities. In recent decades, the works of street artists from all over the world have increased significantly and have become more and more popular because of the issues addressed. Today the concept of illegality that in the past was often associated with the idea of street artists drawing at night on train carriages has become much less discussed. These works are no longer seen as acts of vandalism by teenagers who just want to break the rules and feel cool (but we still have exceptions). On the contrary, street artists are increasingly appreciated by the public as they deal with doing something normal that is however conceived as revolutionary: condemning the economic interests in the name of which we are destroying our Planet. 

Iena Cruz and his eco-murals 
Federico Massa, aka Iena Cruz, is an Italian street artist who fights against pollution through its eco-murals that can absorb smog. 
Here is how it works: the murals are created through a 100% eco-sustainable painting, whose name is Airlite, that is able to clean the air from 88.8% of the present pollution by eating the polluting powders. Specifically, it reduces nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde and it eliminates cigarette smoke and unpleasant smells. Another significant feature is that Airlite kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, even those resistant to antibiotics.
Last but not least, this eco-painting leads to a considerable reduction in energy consumption as Airlite reflects infrared radiation and by doing so it prevents excessive heat transfer. As a consequence, in summer you can have colder environments in a natural way and you can save between 15 and 50% of electric energy.
Let's look at a representative work realized by Iena Cruz using Airlite: Hunting Pollution, Europe's largest green mural, in the southern part of Rome, in the Ostiense district. It represents a heron, an endangered species, struggling for survival and trying to capture a prey in a contaminated and dirty sea.
This is a thousand square meters of ecological painting and its impact on the environment is
equivalent to that of a forest of 30 trees. Just look at the numbers: 12 square meters of the paint used for the realization of the mural can eliminate the pollution produced in a day by a car.
This project was conceived by Yourban2030, a not-for-profit that believes that «art can help raise awareness about environmental issues, and that artistic expression can be used to explore the delicate relationship between people and the environment». Sweet words.

Iena Cruz is not the only environmentalist among street artists 
Environmental issues are also very dear to other well-known street artists, including Banksy. Just think about one of his latest works that appeared in Port Talbot, Wales. This town is (unfortunately) very well-known for having one of the largest steel plants in Europe and this is a more than sufficient reason for Banksy to carry out a work of complaint against pollution. Here the anonymous street artist represents a child catching snowflakes with his mouth, one of the funniest things to do in winter for a little boy. However, as soon as you look around the corner you see that the child is eating ashes coming from a bin, or perhaps a chimney. 
According to the World Health Organization, in 2018 Port Talbot was the most polluted place in the UK. 

               

Another artist who deserves to be mentioned is Blu, an Italian street artist whose identity is unknown and who was listed by The Guardian as one of the ten best street artists. Among all of his works, there are two murals through which you can get an idea of what kind of guy we're talking about.
The first one is Spirale della storia della terra (Spiral of the history of the earth) in Rome. It’s an apocalyptic coloured spiral that develops from the bottom upwards representing the history of living beings, from the beginnings to contemporary civilization.
Looking at this wall we can really feel guilty for the crumbling of the Earth we are causing and it makes us think about how much our actions, our lifestyle, our cities and all our comforts influence the future and the history that will come after us (if there will be history and future to talk about).


Second place on the podium goes to Sete insaziabile (Insatiable thirst), a work that appeared on a building in Lisbon in the aftermath of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that began on April 20, 2010. Here we can see a man dressed elegantly and on his head a gold crown where the logos of some oil companies are represented. He is sipping the juice of the Earth using a plastic straw. 
The word that came to my mind the first time I saw this mural was selfishness. We are so selfish and self-centered that we don't think at all about the impact that buying a car and getting gas four times a month has on the environment, but then we have the nerve to complain about how polluted the air we breathe is. Typical human contradiction.


Красота спасет мир 
The message of these eco-murals and environmental theme murals is easy but of great impact: do something before it’s too late because otherwise in a few years you will regret it bitterly, try to change your habits even if it costs you so much effort and carefully choose the politicians you vote for.
So when you walk down the street, look at these murals and question your most comfortable routines. And at that point we could really say that maybe it’s true, art can really save the Planet or, as Dostoevskij would say, Красота спасет мир, Beauty will save the world.

Written by Francesca Ernani