Yesterday, I witnessed the “bombing” of the Goodrich-Paliparan wall in Marikina City by street artists. It was no ordinary bombing: instead of leaving debris, artists from different walks of life left one lengthy eye candy for a cause.
The occasion was the second round of the Asbestos Street Fighters Street Art competition, the qualifying tilt for the much-awaited Asian Wall Lords Graffiti Battle in Taiwan.
[Asbestos, also dubbed the “deadly dust,” is considered a carcinogen that can lead to fatal diseases. Around the globe, more than 100,000 die every year due to asbestos-related diseases. That is one person every five minutes!]
It was perhaps my first encounter with street art in-the-works. I felt like I was thrown into a different world: graffiti artists doing their craft, skaters occasionally dropping on the concrete road, cars pumping punk/ hip-hop music. The hiss and rattle of the spraypaint provided music to the riot of colors unfolding.
Meddling with the graffiti crews, I learned that they also call themselves “writers,” and that a large-scale street art operation is termed as “bombing.” Indeed, they came up with larger-than-life artistic portrayals of how asbestos kills people.
DNB crew, which emerged as one of the winners, came up with a 3-D styled graffiti of a winged street artist protecting a child from the wafts of asbestos. Another winning team, FTC, used a Captain America-inspired serial killer to personify asbestos.
Meanwhile, MST crew creatively fused the graffiti mark “Deadly” into the series of decaying faces, using bright yellow-orange-cyan colors to punctuate the design.
Amazingly, what was plainly labeled as deadly, fatal and killer inside anti-asbestos circles would end up bursting with colors without losing the warning sign. Street artists proved that the potency of the streets and art can be used to send the message across.
In the words of the graffiti artists which I talked to, “Anyone can see street art. No matter if you’re a beggar or a rich person, you can see street art since it is visible to anyone passing by.”
Hopefully, in the long run, crews will not just defy the rules with “bombing”; they must also maximize public spaces to discredit the ruling system, a system which makes profit even from the slighest doodle of an estranged artist.
Congrats to FTC and DNB! (Photos screengrabbed from Kirk’s short film)