It is often said that once you have gone through arduous challenges and experiences, that you finally see what you once had. Among the matters that many take for granted is proper shelter; one of the core universal human rights. It is this topic that so pulls Argentinian artist Martin Agazzi to paint large in-your-face murals, paintings and sculptures in urban spaces. Taking a sharp look at a global homelessness crisis that hits close to home with Argentina having doubled its homeless population amid its 2018 economic crisis, people sleeping on benches, dirt and waste are the core focus of Agazzi’s work.

Art painted on the sides of dilapidated homes, commercial buildings, subway stations and the occasional canvas give passing viewers a particularly poignant reminder of poverty and the abhorrent lack of human dignity many decide to look away from as we cross the street. It is this sharp reminder that made Agazzi contribute a mural of a homeless man to Arts Help’s ZERO GRAVITY: Is This Our Earth? exhibition in space that released on June 29, 2021.

The world’s first digital art exhibition in space, the multi-medium artist brought forward a piece directly in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 1 on No Poverty. This art gallery is part of Arts Help’s wider initiative to showcase art and creatives that bring a positive impact to the world.

“As an organization, we aim to showcase the global challenges we face with the need for creative ways of addressing them. Our goal with the Zero Gravity exhibit is to connect humanity in a moment of harmony,” said Adiam Gafoo, Chief Development Officer of Arts Help.

A deep connection with the homeless subjects in Agazzi’s work is the effect the viewer can’t help but have as poor individuals stare straight at their audience, give the occasional lip-tilted smile or have their shoulders slumped in intense fatigue on a filthy floor. Though many passing by or seeing his artworks may not have experienced homelessness themselves, a feeling of shared humanity and indignation is felt that others, like ourselves, are left in such living conditions.

Graffiti mural by Martin Agazzi. Image courtesy of Martin Agazzi’s Instagram

Around the world, 1.6 billion people live in inadequate housing conditions with 15 million forcefully evicted every year. Though extreme poverty was gratefully in a steady decline for a quarter-century, the repercussions of the global COVID-19 pandemic’s lockdowns have increased poverty for the first time in 20 years. Countries have experienced unexpected economic setbacks, unemployment has risen and many small businesses have shut down. An additional 71 million people were pushed into poverty in 2020.

Margaret Thatcher and Leopoldo Galtieri mural. Image courtesy of Buenas Aires Street Art.

Among Agazzi’s works is his contribution to a mural in Buenas Aires with fellow artists Martin Ron, Dan Fogwill, Javier Martin and Anabel Matallan to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the Falklands War on April 2, 2014. On the wall, a boy watches the two monstrous images of the past leaders of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, and Argentina, Leopoldo Galtieri, pulled on puppet strings by an unknown man in a suit.

Acting as both the greedy oppressors taking the resources of the people and puppets controlled by the larger corporate interests of the 1%, the mural of the leaders demonstrates Agazzi’s message that shrouded profitable interests have a share in the poverty of the many.

“Poverty is a massively profitable business and is part of daily consumption; who benefits from poverty and how?” Said Martin Agazzi in an interview with Arts Help.
Moulds created by Martin Agazzi. Image courtesy of Martin Agazzi’s Instagram.

As some regions gradually recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, underlying economic, social and corruption issues that drive homelessness remain if they are not properly addressed. Though certain viewers may never have to experience homelessness personally, hopefully, a look at Agazzi’s work can give audiences a push to guide public policies and emphasize individual compassion in order to help the poor next door and on the streets.

To see Martin Agazzi’s artwork in Arts Help’s ZERO GRAVITY: Is This Our Earth? exhibition, click here.

To see more of Martin Agazzi’s artwork taking a look into modern-day urban poverty visit his Instagram page, here.

To see more artists tackling issues pertaining to poverty and economic inequalities, visit Arts Help’s homepage.

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