While at first glance there might seem to be little opportunity to combine the worlds of pie-baking with stencil-making, or bingo-playing with paint-spraying, or hard candy with hard time, the ability of these seemingly disparate lifestyles to merge is a testament to not just the universal appeal of street art, but to the surprising and ceaseless vitality of our older generations. LATA 65 is an emergent phenomenon currently taking place in Lisbon. Through a series of workshops and group actions, generational divides are being bridged and cultural and creative cross-pollination is taking place between the unlikeliest of communities. The first ever large scale-effort to unite the elderly with the burgeoning and dynamic field of street art are yielding fascinating (and widely covered) results.
To create the title of this movement, Lata, which means can in Portuguese is paired with 65, the age at which an adult is typically considered a senior citizen. Accodingly, LATA 65 states their goals as attempting to break down preconceptions about who makes and consumes street art. By leading workshops exclusively for the elderly community, participants not only learn the logistics of stencil making and spraying, they also learn the history of the art form and its place in a larger cultural and historic context. By pairing these old-timey new-comers with veterans of the street-art scene, the project is revitalizing and coloring many areas of Lisbon with brand new perspectives which are simultaneously representative of older generations.
In a time when street art’s social and artistic merits are becoming increasingly muddled, commoditized, and marketed, it is promising to see the form being used to tackle the untrendy issues of elder outreach, and ageism. While street art has always had strong roots in the idea of community, its outward expansion into the mainstream has unfortunately tended to lean more towards mass-produced and commercial images, rather than community-building and activism. Often, the street art that feigns to tackle social issues reads more as stale attempts to cash in on notoriety by a horde of indistinguishable Banksy-clones. This movement, on the other hand, is taking deliberate actions to make real change in their community. And in this case, like fine wine, the tags of our senior citizens will just get better with age.
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All images are courtesy of thisiscolossal.com