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Latin American Graffiti and Urban Art: Online and in the Streets

In January 2010, Global Voices contributor Issa Villarreal wrote a three-part series on urban art and graffiti in Latin America titled “Graffiti and Urban Art: Voices from Latin American Streets” (I, II, and III). Since then, bloggers have continued covering this alternative form of art which enjoys a strong presence throughout the region.

Bolivian blogger Patricia Vargas (@arquitecta [es] on Twitter) visited Chile earlier this year and witnessed the country's vibrant urban art movement. She shares images and her reflections in a guest post for the blog Bitácora Salinasanchez [es]:

El arte urbano contemporaneo encuentra en Chile una gran galería de “arte para todos” ubicando grandes obras en varias ciudades y espacios públicos.

Según Hervé Chandès, curador de arte contemporáneo, afirma que el graffiti tiene mucha resonancia en Chile debido a los fuertes movimientos de protesta que vieron en los muros un soporte para hacer denuncias.

In Chile, contemporary urban art finds a great “art for everyone” gallery, placing great works in various cities and public spaces.

According to Hervé Chadnés, a curator of contemporary art, graffiti has much resonance in Chile due to the strong protest movements that saw in walls a place to house their complaints.

Patricia highlights several significant hubs for urban art in Santiago, like the Bellavista neighborhood:

Bellavista, Santiago, Chile. Photo by Patricia Vargas used with permission

Bellavista, Santiago, Chile. Photo by Patricia Vargas used with permission

She also shares images of urban art in Valparaíso, in the Chilean coast:

Valparaíso, ciudad portuaria de particular arquitectura, con una topografía llena de sorpresas donde el patrimonio y el abandono juegan un papel importante creando un hito a nivel mundial en el arte urbano, convirtiéndose en una galería internacional, es la Meca del graffiti, donde los rincones y recovecos menos pensados han sido apropiados por artistas locales y foráneos. Valparaíso es un juego de sensaciones visuales que te permite crear nuevos imaginarios de diferentes estéticas que van desde la consigna política, el punk hasta el humor.

Valparaíso, a port city of unique architecture, with a topography full of surprises where heritage and neglect play a significant role in creating a milestone in global street art, becoming an international gallery, it is the Mecca of graffiti, where the most unexpected nooks and crannies have been appropriated by local and foreign artists. Valparaiso is a game of visual sensations that lets you create new imagery of different aesthetics ranging from political slogans, punk, and even humor.

Valparaíso, Chile. Photo by Patricia Vargas, used with permission

Valparaíso, Chile. Photo by Patricia Vargas, used with permission

Juan Arellano, Spanish Lingua Editor for Global Voices Online, recently blogged [es] about graffiti in Iquitos, Peru, in the Amazon rainforest. Juan explains that Peru in general is not very friendly towards graffiti; authorities or the owners of walls quickly get rid of them. He was therefore surprised when he saw some untouched graffiti in downtown Iquitos during his latest visit.

Urban art in Iquitos, Peru. Photo by Juan Arellano

Iquitos, Peru. Urban art by Sose. Photo by Juan Arellano

In the same post, Juan shares the story of Sose, a young urban artist. His story reflects the struggles many urban artists face throughout the region:

Sose fue protagonista de un bochornoso hecho en días recientes: mientras realizaba un mural en una de las calles de Iquitos fue golpeado y detenido como delincuente por miembros del serenazgo de la ciudad quienes lo llevaron a la comisaría, quitándole además sus sprays y bocetos de dibujo. A raíz de esto el Director Regional de Cultura declaró su preocupación por el exceso de fuerza aplicado y pidió comprensión a las autoridades municipales pues estos artistas ayudan a embellecer la ciudad.

Sose was the protagonist of an embarrassing event in recent days: while doing a mural on one of the streets of Iquitos, [Sose] was beaten and detained [es] as a criminal by members of the municipal police who took him to the police station, also taking away his ‘sprays’ and drawing sketches. Following this, the Regional Director of Culture declared [es] his concern about the excessive force used against Sose and called for understanding from the municipal authorities as these artists help beautify the city.

Juan also highlights how graffiti is used as a form of protest with this photo:

"Iquitos roars for water". Photo by Juan Arellano

On Facebook you can find several pages dedicated to urban art in Latin America, like La Argentina Graffitera [es], which posts images and information, and encourages users to share pictures of urban art in Argentina.

The blog Muro Rebelde [es] (“Rebel Wall”) by Global Voices contributor Pablo Andrés Rivero is frequently updated with videos and images of urban art. Pablo posts [es] the following video about the work of Argentine artists Brenda and Maria Eugenia, which “seeks to leave an ecological footprint and a lot of color in abandoned spaces.”

In another post [es], Pablo shares a video about the work of Ecuadorian artist Carla Sanchez, better known as Budoka:

You can follow Budoka’s work through her website, Flickr or Facebook.

Finally, Muro Rebelde showcases [es] the work of Paraguayan artist Oz Montanía, who joined other graffiti artists to create a mural in tribute to writer Augusto Roa Bastos:

Mural in tribute of writer Augusto Roa Bastos. Photo from http://www.dementesx.com/ (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

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