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Brussels Uses QR Codes to Quell Citizens’ Ire over “Racist” Street Artwork

In the ancient Palais de Justice in Brussels, a caricature of a dilapidated four-story building is painted along a strip

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BELGIUM. Brussels: A vibrantly colored caricature of a run-down four-story structure is painted down a strip in Brussels’ historic Palais de Justice. The artwork depicts heaven and hell as it parodies the tales of crime and judgment being played out in the surrounding courtrooms. 

A caricatured police officer hovers above a topless woman sunbathing in the blue skies while a white officer watches a black man; the red-tailed devil appears displeased below.

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One of 68 murals honoring Belgium’s rich heritage of comic strips, or bandes dessinées, the piece is from a well-known animation that initially debuted in the 1980s and featured characters including Tintin, Lucky Luke, and the Smurfs.

In the ancient Palais de Justice in Brussels, a caricature of a dilapidated four-story building is painted along a strip. The artwork mimics the stories of crime and judgment that are taking place in the nearby courtrooms by showing paradise and hell.

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A white officer is watching a black man while a caricatured policeman hovers over a topless woman sunbathing in the blue skies; the red-tailed devil appears dissatisfied below.

The artwork is from a well-known animation that first aired in the 1980s and incorporates characters such as Tintin, Lucky Luke, and the Smurfs. It is one of 68 murals honoring Belgium’s long tradition of comic strips, or bandes dessinées.

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Campaigners against racism also take issue with some murals. One, starring Jazz Age icon and French-American civil rights crusader Josephine Baker, has been labeled with the word “decolonize” to protest what are seen to be racist stereotypes. A white male hero saves a gorgeous Baker and a cheetah in the artwork.

This mural and the other 12 that Grégoire considers being “hostile and menacing” would be removed. Sensitive to the accusation that she was stifling discussion, she would post an explanation of the modification along with a little image of the original on the wall. However, the local government has also created QR codes next to the paintings that people may scan to learn more.

Of the 12 murals that have been produced since 2018, 11 feature female characters and/or are the work of female artists or male/female artistic teams. Aimée de Jongh, a Dutch graphic designer, will start illuminating the streets of north Brussels on November 23 with a brand-new piece. 

As part of a strategy to create street art outside the historic district, a scene from Days of Sand, her novel about the 1930s US dust bowl catastrophe, will be located near the city limits.

Also Read: Spain Climate Protest: Activists Glue Themselves to Goya Paintings

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