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Street art and social impact

Many times when we walk down the street, we no longer pay attention to the environment around us. By habit, weariness or inattention... Whether it is a fashion effect or a simple evolution of the artistic sector, the street art has become a way to revitalize urban space, to personalize it and thus to brighten it up. In this logic, when we consider the question of the impact of the street art in urban space, one of the most instinctive answers will concern its visual impact. But what about this invisible social impact? This is the question we address in this new blog post.

In spite of the complications imposed by the crisis of Covid-19, in SAMA we had the opportunity to produce two artistic projects. Last October, we received the artist Alaniz for the realization of the work LA VIDA, within the framework of a project in collaboration with the association Food4Smiles. Then it was the turn of the artist KENOR to come and visit us here in Amsterdam Nieuw-West in this month of December and accomplish the work UNITY TRILOGY.

The artwork LA VIDA located to the Dock, is near playgrounds. The wall is implanted in the center of an urban space dedicated and thought to promote exchanges between residents. At the time of the arrival of the artist, were present: parents, friends and children. Some curious people approached in order to observe Alaniz in action. Although stopped by the security band, some passers-by came closer to share their impressions about the new wall or to ask some questions.

It was during Kenor's performance that we were able to greatly realise the impact of street art from a social point of view. Indeed, the corner is located in front of a shopping mall and a health establishment. Perched by the benches, if we have to compare the two spaces, it is also a place designed to facilitate social exchange. However, being located in the middle of the street, this social space is therefore not delimited or reserved for a specific use. Many passers-by have stopped to ask questions, share their impressions, and stay to watch the artist's performance. On many faces we have seen the satisfaction and recognition of bringing this space back to life.

Among all the residents present today, we particularly exchanged with Irene and Waimon. Both are daily brought to borrow this space. Irene is an employee of the Cordaan health clinic across the street and Waimon has been living in the neighborhood for 14 years now. For Irene, the realization of this artistic work is an opportunity for both the inhabitants and the people who work here.

For our patients it is really important. They are regularly taken out and walk outside the facility. Having a decorated space brings life back and it is very important in the recovery process.”

Waimon is moving in that direction as well.

I am very most interested about all idea about temporary art but for me the street art is some kind of culture of phenomenom. Here, it is a kind of down neigbourhood here, and what Kenor is making here, guys it's a very colorfull piece of artwork and it's light in of my day and make me happy when i see all those colors. I see many differents kind of street art from the SAMA collection in the neigbourhood, differents kind of styles and differents kind of artists so i think it's more interesting.”

These two excerpts are representative of the general movement of local residents who came to meet us. They are direct testimonies of the social impact of street art. Far from being only of aesthetic utility, it is above all a means of creating social bonds and of creating a sensation among street users. During the period in which I worked in the communication department of SAMA, I could observe how the production of artistic projects was motivated by a strong will to create a link between the different entities of our society: the inhabitants, the municipality, the tourists, the artists. The first goal being to create a synergy around the work. This is one of the main missions that feeds us, professionals of the cultural sector and especially when we work in the world of street art. If we push this reasoning to its extreme the city is a common thing. Creating artistic works in the urban space therefore requires us to think about its impact in its entirety and not just from an aesthetic point of view. Indeed, this means thinking about all the stakeholders of the city and that is why we try to involve as much as possible the inhabitants of the neighborhoods in which we carry out projects.

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