5 Issues that social street art addresses on graffiti walls around the world!

social street art change for the world

Graffiti walls all over the world feature social street art messages nowadays. It’s strong, speaks up and represents a wide range of issues that we are facing as a society.

What are the topics covered within this urban art article?

  • The freedom of speech for local citizens/artists
  • Understanding the political situation of any given place
  • The fight in favour for the homeless and the housing crisis
  • Domestic violence and women discrimination

What’s the origins of social street art?

Origins of social street art
These walls are a series of separation barriers in Belfast, Northern Ireland 

Human beings have addressed that social issues are a constant phenomena throughout history. 

There are examples of political graffiti, even in Ancient Rome. It has certainly occurred in modern times that a vast majority of the population has had access to education, (reading and writing) and the ways of communicating have passed from generation to generation. 

  • Graffiti was used during World War II as an expression tool.
  • The riots that took place in France during May 1968
  • The Troubles in Northern Ireland. 

The freedom of speech expressed in walls

The fact that social street art is found in outdoors spaces and city walls gives us a key factor of why it can be so honest and powerful: it is not attached to any sort of institutional censorship. 

It is true though that in certain worldwide countries artists are prosecuted after finishing pieces, which still doesn’t stop them from creating artworks.

Have you ever heard about the powerful Irani street art duo Icy and Sot?

Street art canvas created with stencils
People’s images created using a stencil technique. Powerful image, isn’t it?

Understanding social street art according to the given situation.

Graffiti and street art can often become political influencers because of the nature of expressions themselves.

Artists feel that there exists a necessity in the society to hear about current issues! Common topics, messages and images that if you observe them on the streets may create an impact on you!

How could social street art help the most vulnerable ones?

There are several low socio-economic groups within our societies that could receive the help from guerrilla-style artists.

Let’s pay attention to some topics that we continuously observe in media, television and newspapers. It’s artists who give them visibility in the streets!

Homelessness and housing crisis

Homelessness is a frequent theme on street art and graffiti

A global problem which is especially worse in developing countries, where homeless rates are scary.

The lack of care from local institutions really shock us because those who are exposed to this situation are not just homeless, but people also exposed to assaults or the dangers of living in the streets.

Just FYI, there were over 40.000 homeless people in 2018 only in Spain, while the United States’ data shows that the numbers went as high as 553,000 citizens living in these conditions.

Evictions show another real tragedy. What happens to those unemployed families with severe health conditions who are taken away from their homes?

Domestic violence and women discrimination

Women, family and their fight for equal rights
The Domestic Violence Awareness Mural “A Survivor’s Journey” by Joel Bergne

Femicide rates in Spain go around a hundred women killed per year, and so far in 2020, eighteen women have lost their lives because of this terrible problem.

Spanish government puts into action different measures that are helping them, but there is still much more to do as a society.

  • Anonymous hotlines for victims,
  • Feminist collectives who offer legal support,
  • More strict laws towards the aggressor.

Social street art is a great tool to talk about sexual violence. Artists often create their graffiti, or illegal art, in the city centers so that more people are exposed to this situation.

Race and identity. How to fight xenofobia?

Black Lives matters street art decoration
Black Lives Matter by 179, Dozer & King Fro as photographed by Chris Christian/ flickr

Even though we live in a globalized world, some people still feel discriminated because of their race and/or identity and social street art stood up again for them!

Racist acts occur on a daily basis, but there are also other terrible expressions that could represent race discrimination:

  • Someone calling you certain names,
  • Being generalized as another,
  • Collective judgements and prejudices,
  • Job denials,
  • School, university and other restrictions.

A great example of an antiracist movement is Black Lives Matter, an American movement which was born as a response to the violence that African American people suffer all over the U.S.

What’s the XXI century social street art movement like?

It’s us, the young generations who should stand up and fight for our world! Otherwise, what will happen to us in the next centuries? This is how social street art is helping the cause.

Climate change and environmental causes

Social street art in red & black colors
Picture taken by Redhope in Williamsburg, Brooklyn/ Flickr (2009)

It’s true that our planet’s survival depends on us, and nobody else, but are we doing enough to preserve our world from extinction?

Scientists specialized in climate change warned us for years about the dangers and damage we caused to the planet with our industrial productivity.

The urgent call for action is clear and social street art has to act now!

Famous artivists greatly influence on other fellow young activists/artists:

  • Stra,
  • Blu,
  • Banksy,
  • Shepard Fairey.

Peace and war seen in social street art.

A 'stop wars' message
The message is clear. Do you support this statement?

War and armed conflicts between nations represents an active topic in social street art. It’s true that some people live under violent situations and these are some examples that we could state:

  • Drug cartel wars all along South America
  • Israeli & Palestinian conflict
  • Persian Gulf civil wars

On the other hand, there are others who are living under violence consequences and observe how resources scarce and how their homes disappear because bombing attacked.

Do you think there exists a slight possibility for a World War III?

Our opinion about social street art

Cooltourspain’s beliefs are the same that social street art artists use out there! We think that a better world is possible and that’s the reason why we try to implement respectful messages in our graffiti workshops in Madrid, for instance

What are you doing to change the world?

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