Where there is concrete, let there be colour; where there is asphalt, let there be kickass graffiti. The world’s metropolises are grey enough places without a hard line stance against graffiti – and the good it can bring. Take Sao Paulo, whose sprawling mass is home to almost 20 million people. When street art duo 6EMEIA started painting storm drains in the Barra Funda neighbourhood of Brazil’s largest city, their plan was to transform everyday life in the way only a smile can.
What a great idea. Invisible by their very ubiquity, storm drains aren’t exactly aesthetic masterpieces; functional additions to the urban landscape, sure, but not in themselves the kind of objects that are going to liven up a city’s inhabitants with good humour. Why not spray them with a whole host of designs? 6EMEIA have portrayed everything from animals chomping on their morsels of choice, to a veritable identity parade of other orally fixated mugs and monsters. artists Leonardo Delafuente and Anderson Augusto – initially devoted a year and a half to smartening up over 50 storm drains in Sao Paulo’s inner city neighbourhoods – areas like Barra Funda, Bom Retiro, Santa Cecília and Campo Limpo. In doing so, they brought a new expression to Sao Paulo’s streets, and apart from the odd piece being painted over by local authorities, it seems even the police just stand by and watch. Worse things to worry about.6EMEIA’s storm drain graffiti has been about since around 2005, and pics of their work have been round the blogospheric block a few times. Still, there’s a reason for it: they kick ass. What is hard to get though is the tiresome debate over whether the pieces are Photoshopped. Do the people making the allegation really believe it or are they just trolls looking to get a reaction? We suspect the latter. After all, who’d go to the effort of Photoshopping this stuff when they can do it for real.