Street ‘artivism’ in Sao Paulo comes from the ashes of the burning Amazon rainforest

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. ash / æʃ / (n.) – the soft, gray, and powder-like substance that remains after something (like firewood or a cigarette) has been totally burned or destroyed by fire

    Only ashes were left after he burned all of her love letters.

  2. mural / ˈmyʊər əl / (n.) – a large picture that’s painted directly on a wall

    It took the artist two weeks to paint the school mural.

  3. savannah / səˈvæn ə / (n.) – a wide, flat area of land covered in grass that has a few trees and is usually found in hot countries

    The African savannah is home to animals like elephants, zebras, and lions.

  4. self-destruction / ˈsɛlf dɪˈstrʌk ʃən / (n.) – the act of causing serious harm to oneself

    Drinking too much alcohol and using illegal drugs are forms of self-destruction.

  5. deforestation / ˌdi fɔr əˈsteɪ ʃən / (n.) – the act of cutting down trees or burning a forest, often leaving a few or no trees at all

    Deforestation has become a common practice in the city, where there are more buildings than trees.


Read the text below.

From ashes comes art.

Brazilian artist Mundano has used ashes from burned areas of the Amazon rainforest to create a street mural in Sao Paulo. It shows a firefighter surrounded by fire, dead animals and dead trees.

“I’m using evidence of the crime,” said Mundano, calling the 1,000-square-meter artwork on the side of a building an act of “artivism.”

Mundano traveled more than 10,000 km across Brazil in June and July, collecting ashes from the Amazon rainforest, the Pantanal wetland region, the Cerrado tropical savannah and the Atlantic Forest. He also met with firefighters and volunteers to listen to their stories.

“This mural is a protest, a cry for help,” said Mundano. “I support fire brigades and also for this fire culture to stop, it’s leading us to self-destruction.”

Deforestation in Brazil is up from last September. (Reuters)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Mundano used ashes from burned areas of the Amazon rainforest to create a mural that shows a firefighter surrounded by fire, dead animals, and dead trees. How do you think this would affect the people who see this art (ex. make them care more about the Amazon rainforest)? Why? Discuss.
  • Mundano created a mural to protest against the fire culture in the Amazon using ashes, which he called the “evidence of the crime.” If you were an artist, what message would you like to send to the world through your artwork? What materials would you use for your art? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Mundano made the mural to help stop the fire culture in the Amazon, which involves human activities like burning areas of land to prepare them for grazing or farming. What can other artists do to help raise awareness about the Amazon (ex. create songs or poems about it, post artworks on social media)? Discuss.
  • Artivism is activism done artistically. Have you ever seen artivism in your country? If yes, what kinds of art have you seen and what were they about? If not, do you think more artists should practice artivism? Why or why not? Discuss.