As the 2014 World Cup winds down in Brazil, fans are beginning to process everything they have seen in the games. Some are also looking at the social issues in Brazil, which were highlighted during the preparation for the tournament. These issues caused the world to wonder what was next for a country which was able to host such a great tournament, but still has many problems when it comes to crime, poverty and the disparity of wealth among its citizens. One group of well-known Brazilian street artists is using their talent and the forum of the World Cup to highlight another important issue and increase awareness around it.
Domestic violence is an issue in Brazil which has gone largely unnoticed. Many feel the Brazilian justice system has turned a blind eye to domestic crime, and there is a dearth of legislation in Brazil for prosecuting these types of crimes and protecting victims. The street art campaign, spearheaded by Panmela Castro and her group called Rede Nami, aims to bring awareness to this largely ignored issue by creating murals all over Brazil with the theme of domestic violence in mind.
Street art is a huge part of Brazilian culture, to the extent that graffiti was legalized in 2009. The country is home to some of the most famous street artists in the world. Brazilian street artists were conscripted as part of the World Cup, painting murals for the parties and around the venues. The duo Os Gemeos, one of Brazil’s most well-known street art teams, was even asked to paint Brazil’s World Cup team plane.
Panmela Castro, who goes by Anarkia in her work, is herself well-known both in the art community and as an advocate for domestic violence. She has won multiple awards for her work on both fronts and was named one of Newsweek’s 150 fearless women. Castro also gave a TEDx talk in 2012 on the ability of street art to affect social change. She founded Rede Nami in 2006, and the group now has members in multiple cities, who paint murals in some of the most dangerous and poverty-stricken areas in Brazil. Castro herself is a victim of domestic violence, and says the person who abused her was not prosecuted. This was her inspiration, along with her art, to work to increase awareness around the issue through events like the World Cup.
Panmela Castro’s group Rede Nami is composed entirely of female artists, but the event has rallied 78 artists of both genders to come together and create murals on a kilometer-long thoroughfare in Rio near the Estadio do Maracana. Artists have been working on the murals throughout the tournament, and they will be displayed after the tournament is over. These World Cup artists have used the theme of increasing awareness around domestic violence to get more laws passed in Brazil and other countries, which help victims of domestic violence and make it an easier crime to prosecute.
Panmela Castro and her group Rede Nami hope to garner more support with their large-scale art project in Rio. The increased awareness brought to the public eye by these artists in such a large forum as the World Cup may be used to affect change in laws in Brazil. For her part, Castro will continue to fight for a stop to domestic violence through her goal of empowering women to paint their stories and spreading the message of change through art.
Opinion by Layla Klamt