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São Paulo Mayor Sparks Street Art Debate by Declaring War On Graffiti

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Graffiti is displayed on a wall depicting Joao Doria, mayor of Sao Paulo, sweeping local street art under a rug in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Patricia Monteiro/Bloomberg)
Graffiti in Sao Paulo, Brazil, depicting the city’s mayor, Joao Doria, sweeping local street art under a rug. (Patricia Monteiro/Bloomberg)

 

The city of São Paulo is cracking down on graffiti again, thanks to a new law passed earlier this year by mayor João Doria, a multi-millionaire who previously hosted Brazil’s version of The Apprentice. According to the Wall Street Journal, Doria considers graffiti to be simple vandalism and hopes to confine it to a “street art museum” model of corporate-sponsored public art.

Brazilian graffiti, known locally as”pixo,” is often political in nature, and has seen a resurgence in the wake of the Petrobras oil company scandals that have disgraced many of the country’s politicians. Believing that their city is being swallowed up by corporate interests, São Paulo’s pixo artists see their art as a vital and necessary form of protest and reclaiming of public space.

Graffiti is seen on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil (Patricia Monteiro/Bloomberg)
Graffiti is seen on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil (Patricia Monteiro/Bloomberg)

 

Some of the city’s pixo artists are worried about Doria’s intentions, but a few see his crackdown as a step that will ultimately backfire. “Doria is giving pichadores a total boost,” pixo artist Djan Ivson told the Journal. “If you tell a pichador that he’s not allowed to paint somewhere, that’s music to his ears.”

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