fbpx

Cibo: Fighting Hate with Art

Play episode

Spotlight tells about an artist in Italy who is fighting hate in an interesting way – through spray paint and food.

Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Bruce Gulland.

Voice 2

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Click here to follow along with this program on YouTube.

Voice 1

Imagine a building full of graffiti. Pictures and words are painted all over the building. This graffiti is crude. It says hateful things about black and brown people. Next to this are symbols from Nazi Germany, swastikas. Above this, someone has written “my Hitler.” This graffiti is meant to be offensive. It is meant to spread hate.

Voice 2

Then, a man appears. He is carrying dozens of cans of colorful spray paint. He stares at the wall for a moment. Then, he begins to paint. Over the swastika, he paints two large purple cupcakes. He paints a tube of icing over the racist language. “My Hitler” turns into “My muffins.” Next to the muffins, he paints a small signature. It says “Cibo”.

See the video here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBfS0jJlEqs/
Voice 1

Cibo is an artist from Italy. His name means “food” in Italian. Cibo paints murals of food over fascist graffiti. He tries to make his city more beautiful. But his real goal is to fight hate with art. Today’s Spotlight is on Cibo.

Voice 2

Cibo’s real name is Pier Paolo Spinazzè. He lives in Verona, a city in northern Italy. Cibo loves his city. But he also believes the city has a problem: It tolerates hateful people, especially Neo-fascists. Fascism is a kind of extremist way of thinking that appeared in Europe during World War I. It celebrates authoritarians and nationalists. Nazi Germany was a fascist country. For many years, Italy was too. Neo-fascism is a renewal of these beliefs. Neo-fascists do not like people coming to Italy from other countries. They are often hateful to people who are not like them. They will not tolerate diversity, or different ways of thinking. And they will often use violence to enforce their beliefs.

Voice 1

Neo-fascism is a growing concern in Italy. Political parties like Forza Nuova express fascist viewpoints. Some groups have committed violent attacks against immigrants and people groups. And incidents like this are increasing. Cibo has experienced this violence. He told Italics magazine in 2019,

Voice 3

“I have seen the marks of neo-fascist violence on my friends. Eleven years ago, a group of neo-fascists killed a fellow university student. After that day I decided that that was enough. Although it was not much, I would have, should have done something about it.”

Voice 2

Soon after his friend’s death in 2008, Cibo saw a wall full of neo-fascist graffiti. It made him angry. His friend had just died. And here were signs from the people who killed him. So, Cibo did what he knew how to do. He went and got his paints. And he covered the graffiti with an image of big Italian sausages.

Voice 1

The next day, Cibo went back to the same wall. Someone had painted more graffiti over the sausages. But this did not discourage Cibo. Instead of giving up, Cibo painted sauce on the sausage. The sauce covered up the graffiti. And it made his art more detailed. He did this every time someone defaced or ruined his work. The mural became bigger and more interesting. Soon, there was an entire meal, beautifully painted on the wall. After some time, the neo-fascists gave up. Cibo’s mural stayed.

Voice 2

This became a pattern for Cibo. He would find hateful graffiti somewhere in Verona. Then, he would cover it with a painting of food. When someone ruined his painting, Cibo would just change it. Neo-fascists actually helped him make more interesting art! He told Italics:

Voice 3

“These ‘fascies’ are dangerous as a group. But on their own, they are a bunch of cowards. I can usually predict what they will do. I use them to create work that gallery artists cannot even imagine! Without their hate, I would never have become so famous.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CWVPpW3KDoo/
Voice 1

Cibo has made it his goal to cover up all hateful graffiti in Verona. And today, he has been doing it for more than ten years. Not everyone likes his work. He has received death threats from Neo-fascist groups. And there are other artists who do not respect his work. But he also has over 350,000 followers on social media. These followers help him locate hateful graffiti. And he has inspired many people to do what he does.

Voice 2

But for Cibo, the goal is not to attack neo-fascists. Instead, his art is a message to the people of Verona, and Italy. He told Italics,

Voice 3

“I do not want to challenge just those fascists who spread graffiti. They are fools, and they will get tired of what they do. Instead, I want to overthrow the growing acceptance of hate. People in Verona dismiss teenagers setting a homeless person on fire as a prank. They try to forget about hanging statues of people of color at the stadium. Here, hate has become normal.”

Voice 2

Cibo paints food because it helps send a message of unity. Almost everywhere in the world food is something that brings people together. When people get together to eat, they get to know each other more. It is easy to dislike someone who you do not know. But when you actually meet them, it is harder to hate. Food is also international. Every culture has their unique foods. But everywhere, food is a comfort and a joy. Instead of hate, Cibo tries to spread this comfort. He also points out that even unique national foods are made of ingredients. Each of these ingredients come from somewhere different. For example, the caprese salad is a very Italian dish. It is made from mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes. Cibo often paints this salad. He talked to Quartz magazine about one mural. He said that the caprese is a message.

Voice 3

“Caprese is a message that food is open to the world. The basil comes from India. The oil is from Syria. The mozzarella is Italian, and the tomatoes come from Colombia.”

Image via Instagram. Click the image to go to this Instagram feed.
Voice 1

Cibo believes that his country is like a caprese. Its people come from many different places. But this does not make them less Italian. Instead, what makes Italy Italy is all of its people, no matter where they are from. The neo-fascists believe that Italy should only behave like one dish. But Cibo presents a varied cuisine. It is full of spice and flavor. And it is made of ingredients that come from all over the world.

Voice 2

Do you ever see hateful graffiti? How do you deal with it? What would you do if you could? You can leave a comment on our website at www.spotlightenglish.com. You can also find us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Dan Christmann. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. This program is called, ‘Cibo: Fighting Hate with Art’.

Voice 2

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Is there hateful graffiti where you live? How do people deal with it?

You can Donate to Cibo’s work here: https://www.patreon.com/cibo

More Programs You May Like (Playlists):

Join the discussion

5 comments
  • Actually in Saudi there was a hatful and racism in the past you may mate a boy that’s tall you you servant that’s was so painful to me but now Saudi become a civilized country thanks spotlight for this amazing podcasts I hope to continue like this

  • I’m Minh Nguyen, 8 years old.
    I like the strategy, drawing over hate words. But what happens if the mean people do the same as Cibo, and draw on the whole wall?

  • Luckily my live We do not have there hateful graffiti,and I What do I do with I see these but Probably I do something, but I don’t no what something

More from this show

Episode 1

Picture Stories

Liz Waid and Nick Page tell about graphic novels. These books combine pictures and words to tell a complex story.

Episode 4