The tall and firm columns, porticoes and romantic colors of Bologna are a clash between modern and medieval. As you admire the small shops and restaurants that line the way, you may notice the graffiti and tags that contrast with this environment. Who knew that street art, seen as a form of delinquency in the United States, could in this city foster a community so people-powered and progressively involved?
Street art is a form of self-expression and defiance; a collection of tags, graffiti and murals that use the walls of a city to make statements. Political statements on the walls serve various roles: some are a reminder of Bologna's Communist past; others are unwelcome writings that mar a beautiful city.
“They write about their beliefs, their struggle, and they share it with the world,”explained Alessandro Ferri, a renowned Bolognese street artist who goes by the name“Dado.” Ferri says that modern street artists use their work as an extension of their political beliefs, in hopes of raising awareness of social issues.
“You need heart to change the world--not new messages,” Ferri said, as he worked on a piece at his studio, sketching the swooping and three-dimensional shape he is known for.
Some graffiti are so awe-inspiring that admirers argue they merit exhibiting in museums, next to the Modiglianis and Renoirs.
“All masterpieces are better in the place where they are born, but sometimes that is not always possible,” said Camillo Tarozzi, an expert in the restoration of historical art.
In 2016, Tarozzi was a collaborator in Bologna’s first museum exhibition dedicated to street art. He oversaw a controversial operation in which pieces of street art were removed from their places of origin, and prepared for museum exhibition.The exhibition, shown as “Banksy and Co,” in Bologna’s Palazzo Pepoli, from March 18 to June 26, 2016, sparked strong responses, ranging from astonishment to indignance. Some street artists and aficionados objected to pieces being stripped from the city walls.