street art inspired by coronavirus

With a downfall of international tourism and a drop in the visitation of indoor cultural institutions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, street art has become more relevant among travelers, as well as among employees in the tourism and cultural sector and it will become more relevant to urban planners in the days to come. The reason for this trend is pretty simple – lower risk of virus transmission and the fact that visitors or just local art lovers do not have to wear masks. Not to mention that they can enjoy art on the streets without paying admission fees since street art targets all layers of society.

It is likely that certain cities, or urban neighborhoods, will attract visitors much more easily since they offer an open-air experience with a focus on arts. A good example can be observed in the French capital, due to the fact that the 13th arrondissement of Paris includes a Street Art Museum that features huge murals by local and international artists that have even become a hotspot for tourists. Nevertheless, the tourist organization of Ghent has created a map to help visitors enjoy the cities thriving street art scene. According to Corinne Menegaux, a general director of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau open-air museums were popular during the summer. As she stated: “The public was already in the mood to visit smaller attractions so what we are seeing now is just an acceleration of existing trends. It is important for these smaller museums to get the visibility they deserve and it’s where the opportunity lies – a way of visiting cities differently”.[1]

Another example of how street art deals with pandemic can be observed in subjects of artworks that are popping up on the facades around the globe. The fight with a novel virus has become a topical issue and inspiration for street artists such as TvBoy , Banksy, Aira Ocrespo, Nello Petrucci, etc. Depictions range from the Simsons to Mona Lisa and Issus wearing masks to political messages that deal with leaders (e.g. Brazilian president Bolsonaro) who are blamed for the spread of infection[2].

Tvboy, Mobile World Virus, Barcelona (left); Misha, Stencil depicting Mona Lisa provided with a face mask, Catania (right). Photo

Lovers showing affection to each other while wearing surgical gloves have become a symbol of the current times.

Tvboy, L’amore ai tempi del Covid19, Milan. Photo

Yet another interesting feature of street art is its ecological dimension. Artists’ attempts to raise awareness on ecological issues such as pollution, global warming, protection of endangered species, destruction of greenery and forests can be observed through the choice of topics and written messages in artworks. As well, the novelty in the painting technique itself can be spotted in the usage of Airlite paint during the painting process. This kind of paint neutralizes pollutants, smog, and bacteria, and it can break down the levels of nitrogen oxides emitted by cars. This novelty can be beneficial as well for the current situation with pandemic since it is considered that polluted air is suitable for the transmission of the Covid-19 virus.

Group of street artists, a mermaid stuck in a bottle, Belgrade. Photo credits@

In conclusion, street art – artistic expression that transformed itself from outlaw graffiti “art” to conceptual art and the biggest art movement in the 21st century that has shaped contemporary urban landscapes[3], gains even more importance in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. It bespeaks the voice of the ordinary people, sends messages, and raises questions about the problems that society and cities are struggling with in one moment of history.

Bernie Sanders street art, Belgrade. Photo credits@Dragana Kostica

Its dynamics, explosiveness, and unpredictability which are able to create informal open-air museums in different urban neighborhoods will be much needed by cities in order to overcome a lack of outdoor art (cultural) institutions and festivals, improve air quality, and maybe even revive neglected parts of the city by increasing the flow of the people to that particular neighborhood.

[1] Ricci, B. Coronavirus Street Art: How The Pandemic Is Changing Our Cities, Magazine Artland, accessed on the 28th of September, 2020.

[2]Post covid-19: experts on the future of travel, Eurostar, accessed on the 15th of September, 2020.

[3]  Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art, directed by Elio Espana, 2020.

Author: Dragana Kostica MA