Social problems, economic disparities, the good, the bad, grassroot movements, history, politics, and a mix of artistic expression is all splashed through the streets of Bogota in the form of graffiti. Upon landing to Bogota, your overwhelmed with tagging, graffiti, and street art on the majority of the city buildings and it gets even more concentrated closer to downtown. As for an interpretation to the art, fortunately, each day you have the opportunity to join Bogota’s Street Art Tour, and hear various narratives of Bogota and Colombian history as well as analysis of influential street artists work displayed through La Candelaria and the city. Finish up breakfast and head over to Parque de Los Periodistas to meet up with Christian and the rest of the tour group at 10 am.
It’s difficult to know where to start. I ran around most of the time trying to get the perfect shot of different murals and would listen to a bunch of information being poured out, there was tons!
The largest effect it had on me was the idea of street art as an expression of political and social ideas. Like most of the developing world there are huge socio-economic disparities and in a city as big as Bogota tons of homeless and underrepresented groups of society. The representation of indigenous populations and homeless people has hardly been of large concern by most governments, Colombia included.
In America there’s been suppression of street art in various forms including graffiti police. In Colombia’s there’s been a huge shift and the minimum penalty has shifted to nominal fine. A few years ago police authorities would be hunting these artists down and now many businesses are hiring them. The story behind this shift has been based on several factors including the death of 3 artists killed by the police while working in his medium. In 2011 there was a death which sparked a huge outcry amongst the public, human rights groups, and other artists. Graffiti protests across the city ended up leading to the arrest of the police officers involved.
These days especially in the La Candelaria neighborhood businesses are hiring artists to do their chalkboard menus, interiors, and mural art on the front of their establishments. There’s a respect for top artists and instead of painting and repainting over tagged walls why not hire someone respected enough with enough street cred to keep the building clean. There’s now an acceptance of street art as a legitimate medium of art.
Bogota’s street art scene is getting so big that even Justin Beiber got in on the action. During his 2013 concert in Bogota he spray-painted in an illegal area under the supervision of police. An outcry occurred and artists demanded the same respect and protection that Beiber got.
Try doing some research about anything street art, anything Colombia, and anything Bogota and bring questions. The guides were super knowledgeable and had a lot of opinions and insight to what’s happening on the ground. This is a great way to start your trip to Colombia and Bogota!
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