Street artist unveils banknote protest over Pope’s event

Banknotes for Pope

Portugal’s renowned street artist, Bordalo II, unveiled a protest against his country’s extravagant spending at a Lisbon venue set to host Pope Francis for a mass next week.

With his signature style of creating political art from discarded materials, Bordalo II unfurled a colossal carpet adorned with oversized 500-euro banknotes.

The artwork symbolised the excessive funds poured into the upcoming World Youth Day (WYD) global gathering of young Catholics.

Scheduled from August 2-6, WYD is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Lisbon.

However, Bordalo II’s message was clear: he criticised the state for allocating an exorbitant amount of public funds to sponsor the papal tour while many citizens grappled with housing insecurity, unemployment and a loss of dignity.

Walk of shame

On Instagram, the artist, whose real name is Artur Bordalo, shared images and videos of the striking display on the venue’s stairs, referring to it as the “walk of shame.”

In his post, he condemned the stark contrast between the government’s lavish spending and the struggles faced by ordinary citizens in the face of galloping inflation.

Official estimates released in January indicated that WYD 2023 would cost a staggering 161 million euros (NZ$288 million), with the burden shared by the government, the Catholic Church and the city council of Lisbon.

The government’s share alone was slated to be 30 million euros (NZ$54 million), which drew sharp criticism from numerous public figures and politicians.

The Portuguese government’s spending came under fire as citizens questioned the justification for such lavish expenditures amid pressing economic challenges.

Significant budget cuts

The public outcry led to significant budget cuts.

This was even before Bordalo II’s demonstration when the Lisbon City Council was compelled to slash its planned spending on an altar for Pope Francis’ mass from over 5 million euros to 2.9 million euros.

Responding to Bordalo II’s protest, Lisbon Mayor Carlos Moedas acknowledged the artist’s right to express his concerns, noting that such demonstrations were not uncommon during high-profile events like the one featuring Pope Francis.


ABC News


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