Hola a todos,
Well, I have been in BsAs for about a week now, though I’ve only been to a few barrios and haven’t explored any of them properly. So please take what I say next with a grain of salt. What I’ve noticed about graffiti is that:
1. for starters, it’s (almost) everywhere. there seems nothing too sacrilege for graffiti–including government buildings and statues Even the church nearby me has some (photo to be taken soon, but it says, “BUSH” with a swastika for the “S”). the only exception might be very commercial avenues, like Av. Sante Fe in Barrio Norte (in between Recoleta and Retiro), where I live. Here’s a map of the different barrios, although more detailed information on the barrios can be found on wikipedia:
2. The graffiti, though, seems to change across barrios. I’ve noticed that in more artsy/hipster areas (namely Palermo), there are more cartoony figures adorning the walls, kind of like the type of work the lovely pum pum does. I wonder if this is because the designers/grafiteros tend to live and/or work in these areaor whether it’s because they feel their grafiti “belongs” there most. There also seemed to be more murals in San Telmo, one of the older, hippie areas (to give you an idea, there are cobblestone floors and lots of antique shops–one of the bars in the area clearly used to be a warehouse of some sort). Here’s an example of one mural, nearby Calle Defensa:
3. There is much more tagging than I had anticipated–even, possibly, some tagging wars. Obviously this is what interests me the least, and I do not have a keen enough eye to be able to trace the lineage of the kind of script these guys (or gals?) are using, but I see black spraypaint tagging more than anything else here, at least nearby where I live.
4. There’s a TON of graffiti nearby schools. I am close to the economics building at la UBA (University of Buenos Aires), and both spraypaint handwritten graffiti and stencils proliferate there. Graffiti also tends to be more political nearby schools. Notably, nearby one foreign languages school in Recoleta, there was a grafito in English that read: “fight war not wars.” A pretty good pun for a non-native English speaker, eh?
5. There’s also a ton of graffiti in the microcenter (nearby San Telmo/Puerto Madero), where the Plaza de Mayo and el Congreso are. The former has the importance that, say, Tiananmen Square has in Beijing. I don’t think anyone was killed there, per se, but as I noted in an earlier blog, the Madres have been protesting for years the disappearance of their family members/children (during the Dirty War of the 70s). Nowadays, there are constantly protests and shows there. Now, there seems to be a semi-permanent human/sign installation/protest there:
I also found it interesting that, in the Plaza de Mayo, there was government-sanctioned “graffiti” in a circular shape (presumably along the path the Madres take when protesting) with the white handkerchiefs that the women wear. Also on the brick floor are the words “victims of terrorism.”
In the microcenter, graffiti tended to almost always be political and there was less straight tagging. There also tended to be less design-influenced graffiti and perhaps less stencil graff as well, although one that I liked a lot (photo to come soon), which I have also soon ALL OVER this city was: “LAS PLANTAS NO PECAN” (The plants don’t sin) in green with an accompanying photo of a marijuana leaf. Here, as in the U.S., pot is illegal and carries with it a prison sentence.
On somewhat of a sidenote, I think I’m going to be doing a “Directed Research” on this topic in lieu of taking an additional 1-2 classes, so I’ll be doing this much more full time with much better photos PRONTO! Also have been trying to get in touch with some graff artists, so hopefully video/audio clips from interviews will be coming soon too.