As the average person walks from A-to-B, most only focus on the task at hand. They might be lost in their own thoughts, or focused on the digital gizmo in their hand. They likely aren’t looking at the drab walls around them and seeing possibilities.

That’s what makes the artists in our lives so unique and invaluable. They see potential where so few of us do.

WHITE WALLS SAY NOTHING takes us to Argentina, where in Buenos Ares the political world has been turned upside down…then right side up…then upside down again. Throughout all the unrest, the artists have picked up their brushes and used them as weapons. Walls are turned into murals to voice dissent; a beautiful hybrid of activism and expressionism.

The women and men who hold those brushes are the focus of this beautiful film.

Through bright colours and contemplative conversation, we are introduced to many of Argentina’s most talented artists. As the film plays out, we learn about not only how much has happened in their country over the last generation, but how it has affected their approach to their work.

They could take to the streets and yell…or they could paint something poignant and save their vocal chords. As it happens, most do both. What results is a symbiotic relationship; politics inspire the work, the work fuels political dissent.

This documentary comes with vibrance and passion. It strikes a beautiful balance between the art and the artists, underlining the way they are inspired both by the tumultuous events happening around them, and by each-other. For the most part, visual art is a statement. It’s a way for an artist to convey a few specific thoughts. However, what these artists and this film want us to understand, is that visual art can also be a conversation. One work can inspire a response, which can in-turn inspire a response, and another, and another.

An argument can play out in a public space – back and forth for week. The average passer-by becomes witness to a ferocious debate…an innocuous wall the forum for a charged exchange of ideas. It’s a beautiful notion, and plays out subtly within the documentary itself.

One wonders if the western world is about to get treated to an explosion of the creativity and intensity that we see in WHITE WALLS SAY NOTHING. We’ve had it pretty good around these parts for a long time, and in some ways our art has reflected that. There’s no unrest, no great spark. Nothing to inspire our scribes to create the lasting and ferocious work that we see in this film. But as we all know, so much has changed in the last twelve months.

Perhaps the white walls we see around us are primed to say much more…


WHITE WALLS SAY NOTHING plays at Hot Docs 2017 on Tuesday, May 2nd, 8:45pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox. It plays again on Thursday, May 4th, 1pm at Lightbox. It then plays Lightbox once more, on Friday May 5th – 9pm. (official website)