Street Art

Vhils Paints Mural in Indonesia to Highlight an Endangered Orangutan Species

April 11, 2018

It's been 2 months since we last mentioned Splash and Burn, a creative initiative that uses art as an alternative platform to project critical ecological issues. As the 9th artist to participate in the environmental campaign, Vhils recently completed this large mural in Medan, Indonesia, sledge hammering a portrait of a Tapanuli Orangutan.

Focusing on the fairly recent discovery of a new species in Indonesia and a recently approved hydropower dam set to decimate their habitat. The Portuguese artist is hoping to bring attention to the cause and to create ground for discussion, painting a large portrait of an adult male orangutan, carved into an old facade and accented with black paint, which now overlooks the streets of North Sumatra's regional capital.

"It comes down to activists and artists to raise awareness for the tensions that globalization creates. The world is not taking the time to consider how to move forward, there is no effort to reflect on the real impact of decisions. It is the artists who power the cities we live in, who counterbalance the pressures of different issues by creating images on walls. You can start a discussion of public issues that otherwise would not be there." -Vhils

In early November 2017, scientists identified a new species of Great Ape on the Indonesian island of Sumatra: the Tapanuli Orangutan. With only 800 individuals left, this is the most endangered Great Ape species in the world, and is now threatened with a 510MW hydropower dam, planned in this species’ core habitat, the Batang Toru Forest Complex. Financed with overseas investment, the dam is currently in the pre-construction phase and its construction will likely affect the Sumatran Tiger, Marbled Cat, Malayan Sun Bear and several other rare and threatened species. The Indonesian government has a collective opportunity to halt this project and the international reaction will be crucial. Environmental organizations are urging the financiers to find an alternative, environmentally suitable location for the dam. Campaigns such as this are crucial to halt the ongoing plans and force reconsideriation.––Sasha Bogojev