When the environmental health of a region is so severely compromised that the city or neighborhood becomes synonymous with wreckage, that space can seem less a real-world location than a manifestation of a collective fear–at least for outsiders. But the degradation around the rocket-launching site of Salto di Quirra in southeast Sardinia, Italy, is quite real. And thanks to street artist Blu, we’re looking its way.
The massive mural Blu has painted depicts how militarization has altered life in the region, resulting in the so-called “Quirra Syndrome,” which refers to the shockingly high cancer rate of local inhabitants: 65% suffer from leukemia. Add to that the reports of lambs being born with multiple heads and extra limbs, and you understand why the area’s been referred to as “Italy’s Chernobyl.”
Whatever the mural lacks in nuance, it makes up for in size and clarity, serving as both a local and global reminder that all-out war isn’t the only ill effect of an increasingly militarized world–and that far too many of us need protection from the organizations that purport to protect us in the first place.