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Watch: French artist Saype creates powerful artwork in honour of Brumadinho dam disaster victims

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Aerial view of French artist Saype's work of art paying tribute to the victims and those affected by Brumadinho dam disaster
Aerial view of French artist Saype's work of art paying tribute to the victims and those affected by Brumadinho dam disaster   -   Copyright  AFP
By Theo Farrant  with AFP

French contemporary artist Saype has created a giant piece of 'land art' on a football field in Brazil as part of his worldwide project 'Beyond Walls'. 

"In this project called Beyond Walls, the idea is to symbolically create the biggest human chain in the world by painting intertwined hands to talk about the importance of finding common solutions to the different problems we face," explained the 33 year old artist. 

Previous locations in his Beyond Walls project, which began in 2019, include Paris, Geneva, Berlin, Istanbul, Venice, Ouagadougou and Andorra. 

To create his artwork Saype uses a 100% biodegradable paint composed of water, chalk, coal and casein, which he makes himself.

An emotional tribute to the Brumadinho victims

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Relatives of the victims of the Corrego do Feijao dam disaster hug at the site of Saype's tribute artworkAFP

The latest artwork in Brumadinho marks the 16th stage of his project, which aims to produce the same "intertwined hands" in 30 different cities around the world by 2023. 

Saype dedicated the artwork to the victims of the 2019 failure of the Corrego do Feijao dam, owned by Vale mining company, in Brumadinho, Brazil.

Relatives and friends of the victims of the tragedy that claimed 270 lives, and left four others still unaccounted for, gathered to trace the outline of the work in a grand symbolic embrace. 

"Today, even with the pain we are living through again, it is a different moment. It is a moment that brings comfort, a moment that brings strength, because through such a perfect artwork, hands were intertwined, and up to this day no hand has been separated from the other in this fight for justice, for finding the victims. And for there to be punishment, so that a tragedy, a crime like this never happens again," said Flavia Aparecida, a relative of a victim of the 2019 dam disaster. 

Through his giant frescoes, Saype also aims to generate awareness about the impacts and tragedies of the mining industry on a national and international level. 

"The disaster that happened in 2019 where 272 people were buried after a mine dam, I think that this is catastrophic. So the first thing is to give a voice to the people who lost their loved ones. But also, it is to say that this is a problem that we don't hear much about, where there are many social and environmental problems," explains the French artist. 

Check out the video above to see this incredibly moving artwork being made

Video editor • Theo Farrant