Ever: Past, present and freedom
The recent murals of Argentine artist Ever invite to a dialogue about freedom, analyzing the course of past events, the issues that continue to be part of our present such as the way we deal with immigration and how this impacts communities socially and culturally, and the potential opportunities of change.
His piece for The Crystal Ship contemporary art festival specialized in public space, held in Ostend in April, takes the reforms of Leopold II of Belgium as starting point. Known as the “Builder King” due to commissioning a great number of buildings, urban projects and public works, Leopold has made his reforms possible due to the profits generated by the exploitation of natural resources from the Congo. As the artist explains: “In the Congo, rubber was a resource that became precious because of its use in the automotive and bicycle industries. The king imposed high quotas on rubber production in the Congo and forced the indigenous population to comply using coercive methods and extreme violence. It is estimated that during Leopold’s years of domination about ten million natives were killed in the Congo. ‘Homage to the Past and Future’ is a work that talks about the heavy legacy of the past, about how societies live with the consequences of those that came before and how they build their current reality to be better.”
Based on photos taken by Martha Cooper in the 90s of immigrants in East Harlem, Ever’s mural ‘The Second Conquest’ in NYC draws another intersection between the past and present reflecting American reality by reminding of the fight of Puerto Rican Young Lords during the 60s to improve the living conditions of Puerto Ricans in the neighborhood.
Injustice, separation and the constant struggle for freedom is highlighted in the artist’s visit to Tijuana, when he created the ‘Metaphor for Freedom’ piece: “When I got to Tijuana I looked up and stared at the clouds, then at the birds, hopping from side to side. When I looked at the ground, I saw a wall made of metal and concrete; I looked at two families talking, from one side to the other. Two bloods divided by mankind’s irrationality.”
Ever’s words stand as a conclusion that challenges to a deeper conversation about how we relate, accept and coexist with the other: “We are nomads by nature, searching for the future incessantly. The day we decide to become better human beings, we’ll need to break those barriers. Then and only then, will we truly achieve freedom.”
‘Homage to the Past and Future’, 2016, Ostend, Belgium, part of The Crystal Ship
‘Après Capitalisme’, 2015, Buenos Aires
‘The Second Conquest’, 2015, East Harlem, New York City, part of Monument Art Project
‘Metaphor for Freedom’, 2015, Tijuana, Mexico
Images © Ever