Let’s make love to the streets

"Without a doubt, Susan Applewhite reminds us of the wise words Plato once uttered and that Nietzche repeated on his deathbed centuries later: "Art saves ..."

2 years ago | SoTA Magazine

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This is how the 42-year-old Venezuelan artist, Susan Applewhite, has called the movement of emotions that through her work leads us to the streets of Caracas.

When we read this title we immediately give it a sexual connotation and yes, of course it has it, but if we look and see a bit further, we find that “making love” in its purest definition is “to surrender in body, soul and heart to another subject.” In this case that surrender is even more sublime, because it is to the citizen, to an unknown person, to the streets of our beloved and battered Caracas.

Although Applewhite is a conceptual artist, her execution is accurate and aesthetically pleasing, it does not require a keen eye in the arts to understand it and accept it.

Its content is universal, it explores places like love, protest, struggle, pain and hope.

We are in a moment where the history of art places us in modern art and in this particular case, in contemporary art. The latter has been harshly questioned and criticized not only by the critics, but by the spectators, as it leads to a personal and even selfish vision. It is only the artist who can understand its art and give it a meaning, leaving the masses out.

Applewhite, takes that incomprehensible art to the simplest states so that the ordinary citizen, can understand, identify and appreciate that in this rough city there is an equal. There is another human who cares about his well-being from anonymity, even if only for a moment.

Her workshop never stops, it works 24 hours, and for many years now, she has participated in some salons for young people and semi-hidden movements. But it is not until about five years ago, that she devoted herself to the streets with her work. She decided to give us “Street Art,” a project that becomes more latent with the accelerated political and social collapse of Venezuela in the last four years.

Applewhite begins an inexhaustible daily crusade of protest to denounce the different realms in which the life of Venezuelans is being affected: lack of food, health, housing and insecurity, among others. She exhibits her works to the public not in an art gallery but in the streets of Caracas.

The boiling point of her work occurred during the protests of 2017, when the people, eager for change, took the streets. The artist harshly criticized the government, the bodies of repression and anyone who ignored what was happening. This initiative represented, for some Venezuelans, a voice that spoke-out a collective feeling. Healing through the arts.

In response to this emotion, she decides to design a line of t-shirts called “Agapewear,” with the premise of wearable art. On the t-shirts she embodies her most emblematic work such as: “Emotional hemorrhage in honor of the fallen,” “Puputov,” “Venezuela in two blocks,” and “Neojinetera.”

She is a great artist and therapist for she denounces the sufferings and injustices.

In January 2019, she opted for placing anatomically correct heart shaped banners in all the streets. This particular heart shape responds to her belief  that love must be “real,” not that commercial, false and worn-out morphology that we have been taught. Love from the gut that asks for nothing in return.

“Me reconforta como persona, como ciudadana y sobre todo como venezolana, que por allí anda un genio, un alma que me entiende aun sin conocerme y que entre calles de manera casi clandestina, me deja mensajes de amor y esperanza, como su última obra realizada el día 23 de enero, ubicada en el puente las mercedes, llamada libertad; son solo dos alas blancas dispuestas en una valla abandonada, que hacen que al pararme entre ellas, deje de ser Mariana y me convierta en un ser LIBRE, el anhelo de toda la humanidad”.

For the locals, it’s comforting to know there’s someone out there leaving messages of love and hope. Applewhite’s last work,  “Freedom,” was made on January 23, and it’s located on a bridge in Las Mercedes. The artwork features two white wings arranged in an empty billboard. When people stand between those wings, all of a sudden become a free soul – the longing of all humanity.”

Without a doubt, Applewhite reminds us of the wise words Plato once uttered and that Nietzche repeated on his deathbed centuries later: “Art saves…”


Article written by Mariana Silva @mananasilva / Translation by SoTA.