There’s a not-so-new trend of spending a good portion of a city break holiday gazing at street art. I did it in Reykjavik and it’s just as difficult in Lisbon to avoid the painted streets.
Street art isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s probably the oldest form of expression and has been around since… well, cave painting times. But recently, it’s become increasingly popular, especially with tourists. There are street art tours in almost every major city and every holiday photo album has at least a couple of street art snaps – unless the person taking the pictures is a hater, but that’s another story. There are a few reasons why street art has become so popular.First of all, it’s one of the only free things to do in a city. Why pay to see a painting in a frame when there’s a similar painting right across the street, twice the size with a more impressive canvas? Street art is a rebellion against the commercial, capitalistic society that thrives on taking money from tourists. Although we’re lucky in the western world, many people still earn less than the living wage, and a lot less than the living wage was a few generations ago. Think about the fact that it was once normal for one person in a family of four or more to provide for the whole family on a minimum wage, and now a minimum wage couldn’t even buy you rent for a studio apartment in most cities. If you can’t afford rent, you’re not going to be able to afford to see expensive museums and galleries as entertainment. Street art knows this, street art embodies this and makes this kind of entertainment free for everyone on the streets where millions of people can pass by and enjoy.Street art isn’t just for passing budget holidayers. It can often tell a more important story. Take Os Gémeos + Blu, the piece that shows a corporate fat man, drinking from the Earth to show the topical idea that corporations such as the ones with logos on his burger-king-esque crown, are sucking the earth dry from resources.Street art holidays are an opportunity to say ‘no thank you’ to wasteful bus and metro tickets and yes to lowering your carbon footprint. Getting lost down the wonderful, winding roads of Lisbon isn’t such a chore when there are beautiful pieces of art on every corner. Yes, I know, there’s so much more we could be doing for the environment than simply walking rather than taking transportation (things like going vegan – or eating a LOT less meat and dairy, buying less plastic and avoiding buying new things and opting to buy second-hand furniture and clothes), but walking is a step (literally) in the right direction.