Street Art Restoring Cities

Claudio Zonta SJ

 Claudio Zonta SJ / Art / Published Date:5 March 2021/Last Updated Date:16 March 2021

Free Article

Street art or post-graffiti or guerilla art is above all art for the people, it is a form of urban renewal for downtown or the suburbs. This is the case of two monumental murals that Jorit has completed on the facades of two buildings overlooking the subway square of Scampia, a suburb of Naples. They depict Pierpaolo Pasolini and the American activist, Angela Davis.

They are not unique in Scampia, as associations and private individuals have long since used their art to color this neighborhood, which is too often stigmatized as a place rife with drugs and organized crime. The subway, in fact, is embellished by colorful murals, as is Corto Maltese Park, recovered by the people and the association “Pollici Verdi,” as well as the Church of Santa Maria della Speranza (Our Lady of Hope), just to name a few examples of how it is possible to color a city built on shades of gray.

Jorit is a local street artist, a Neapolitan famous for creating murals in Africa, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and China, in Palestine and in Russia, mainly working with the faces of characters who have a strong symbolic value and who, with their social commitment, have helped to raise awareness of values, rights and a sense of justice through history.

Inspired by 20th-century Mexican muralism, Jorit uses a spray-can technique that provides colors and shades and gives a realistic representation of human faces. His signature is to mark the faces of his characters with two red stripes on each cheek, which, as is attested on his website, “refer to African magical/healing rituals, in particular to the procedure of ‘fleshing out’, an initiatory rite of passage from childhood to adulthood, linked to the symbolic moment of the individual’s entry into the tribe.” This mark, in addition to being an element that distinguishes the presence of his artistic hand, initiates these characters into his “Human Tribe.”

And so, coming out of the Scampia subway station, one has the impression of passing under the gaze of Pasolini, artist who depicted the lives of young people without hope of redemption, whose eyes give off that strong vitality that is intent on fighting for a more humane society. In the same way, while walking, you instinctively look up at the proud gaze of Angela Davis who, after being imprisoned and released, dedicated herself to prisoners in the United States, where many African Americans are detained, and to related racial and social problems.

DOI: La Civiltà Cattolica, En. Ed. Vol. 5, no. 3 art. 10, 1020: 10.32009/22072446.0321.10