A Portugese Street Artist Installed a Carpet Made From Oversized €500 Bills in Protest of the Pope’s Visit

The guerilla artwork is called "Walk of Shame."

Bordalo II, Walk of Shame (2023) installed in Lisbon, Portugal ahead of World Youth Day. Photo courtesy of Bordalo II.

While the Portuguese capital of Lisbon is busy preparing to welcome Pope Francis this week for World Youth Day, one local street is protesting the estimated €161 million ($177 million) that will be spent on the papal visit. Bordalo II broke into the venue where the Pope will give a mass on August 6 and rolled out a pink carpet of oversized €500 banknotes, according to Reuters.

The provocative work, known as Walk of Shame, has been installed at Parque Tejo, with the carpet stretching up the stairs that lead to the main stage where Pope Francis will appear.

“In a secular state, at a time when many people struggle to keep their homes, their jobs, and their dignity, they decide to invest millions of public money to sponsor the [papal] tour,” Bordalo II said in an Instagram post.

Portuguese artist Artur Bordalo, who goes by the artistic name of Bordalo II, poses at his studio in Lisbon on July 28, 2023 in front of Walk of Shame (2023). Photo: PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images.

The exorbitant cost of the event will be divided among various groups, including the Catholic Church itself, but the Portuguese government’s share is believed to be around €30 million ($33 million). This expenditure has been criticized by a number of politicians and public figures, and Lisbon’s mayor Carlos Moedas has defended Bordalo II’s right to install Walk of Shame in protest.

Bordalo II, whose real name is Artur Bordalo, is famous in Portugal for his political activism. He has previously made statements about sustainability with his Trash Animals, a series of large scale sculptural assemblages made with society’s leftover detritus that resemble animals like bears, badgers, otters, and birds.

World Youth Day, which is taking place this August 1-6, is a global gathering for young pilgrims that has been organized by the Catholic Church since 1985. Lisbon will be the host for this year’s edition, the first to take place since 2019.

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