I’m not aware of much street art which highlights biodiversity depletion, so it’s refreshing to discover London artist Xylo. His interesting and provocative work addresses a number of subjects, but species extinction is a particular focus.
The Critically Endangered Panamanian Golden Frog (Atelopus zeteki) symbolises the extinction crisis for Xylo, and has appeared in various guises in London streets…..
This species is an all-too-appropriate choice as an icon of the looming Eremozoic. It has long been seen as a rare symbol of good luck in its native Panama, and is a popular symbol there, appearing on lottery tickets, for instance. The animal itself is running low on luck, however, and it’s likely that the golden frog is now functionally extinct in the wild; it is sobering to reflect that there might now be more of these frogs painted on walls in London than there are living free in Panama.
Xylo’s other recurrent image in response to biodiversity depletion is his extinction symbol, which is reproduced in the sidebar of this blog. The idea is that the simple symbol can be freely copied and re-interpreted to spread awareness of the mass extinction; some interpretations have been shared in an online photo-sharing group. This simple but potent concept is an imaginative approach to increasing consciousness of the issue.
Xylo has also brought his work into the aisles of supermarkets, with several cheeky interventions…..
It’s good to see a street artist addressing biodiversity in novel settings and through a variety of creative approaches. The slide into an Eremozoic future, though arguably one of the most pressing issues of the 21st Century, remains poorly recognised or discussed in general culture, and Xylo’s imaginative tactics are a welcome intervention.