“Ossario – Art Less Pollution” by Alexandre Orion

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Brazilian artist Alexandre Orion has been creating an interesting body of work that simultaneously cleans up the city while highlighting the deadly pollution in our midst…I’ll let his Flickr page explain:

Ossario is the name of this reverse graffiti intervention. It is through a process of subtraction, scraping off layers of soot from vehicle exhaust built up on tunnel walls to produce over 300 meters of images with more than 3500 human skulls.

His work reminds me of the art of Kim Abeles, whose “The Smog Collectors” series most famously used LA smog to create art objects that were at once repulsive and intriguing:

The Smog Collectors materialize the reality of the air we breath. They achieve their potency most effectively when the image contradicts their substance…

I place stencil images on transparent or opaque materials, then leave these on the roof of my studio and let the particulate matter in the heavy air fall upon them. When the stencil is removed, the images reveal themselves…they are “footprints of the sky.”

Orion is part of a new breed of street artist who likes to challenge our notions of vandalism–in New York we have Ellis G., Aakash Nihalani & Poster Boy, among others. The city buffs his works by washing the tunnels. In my opinion, he’s a friggin’ humanitarian.

I’ve seen a less evolved variety of this type of tunnel-based pollution art in LA, but nothing quite so enchanting…if I am permitted to even use that word to describe skulls scrapped out of soot.

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