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From Ashes to Art: "Artivism" as a Solution to Climate Crisis

To raise awareness of climate change, Brazilian street artist Mundano painted a giant mural in Sao Paulo using ashes collected from the scorched Amazon rainforest.

Photo Credit: Sato do Brasil

The giant 1,000-square meter fresco titled "The Forest Firefighter" – featuring a heroic figure, who is helpless in the face of a raging fire, is made in various shades of black and grey depending on how much water Mundano mixed in with the ashes.

The artist, who calls himself an "artivist", travelled more than 10,000km (6,200 miles) across Brazil in June and July, collecting ashes from the Amazon rainforest, the Pantanal wetlands, the Cerrado savannah and the Atlantic Forest. He brought back 200 kilograms (441 pounds) of ashes from different areas affected by fires to create the mural on a building close to Avenida Paulista, the main avenue running through Brazil's largest city.

Most of these ashes are from human caused fires, as nearly 100% of the Amazon fires are started by farmers and loggers clearing land for crops or grazing.

"I'm using evidence of the crimes" said Mundano, calling the 1,000-square-metre (10,000-square-ft) artwork on the side of a building an act of "artivism".

The mural is part of a bigger project entitled Ashes of The Forest, a multimedia art and environment project that uses art as a tool to denounce crimes and raise awareness for the cause. The expedition, the panel and all the efforts to support the brigades will be recorded in a mini-documentary directed by André D'Elia, which will be released at the end of 2021.

The project aims to raise global awareness about the vast fires that ravage our precious ecosphere every year. "No one sees the fires, they're very far away in the Amazon. The idea is to bring the ashes here to the people to create greater empathy," said Mundano.

In Mundano's panel, inspired by the modernist work of Cândido Portinari "The Coffee Worker", the original coffee farmer gives way to a fire brigade officer - based on a real character, Vinicius Curva de Vento, who recently fought forest fires in the Cerrado.

The idea is to bring visibility to those who work directly for the maintenance of forests and other natural environments, and who work tirelessly, often with limited equipment and without recognition.

Watch below the complete story about the intervention, presented on Brazil's main news program, "Jornal Nacional", viewed by more than 90 million people (in Portuguese with English subtitles):

"The Ashes of the Forest project represents the diversity of society's efforts to take concrete action in the face of so many socio-environmental setbacks we are experiencing, and seeks to offer support to people who play a leading role in the fight for nature in their daily lives", says Gabriela Yamaguchi, WWF-Brazil's Engaged Society director.

The public can directly support the Volunteer Fire Brigades that the artivist Mundano personally met on this expedition. They are constantly fighting the fires and to continue this heroic work they need resources for equipment, logistics and food.

To make your international donation to the firefighter brigade: Brigada São Jorge (@brigadasaojorge) via PayPal: Any value is accepted.


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