by Christopher Gordon
Over Semana Santa, Barbara and I went to Bogota for a few days. One of my favorite parts of the trip was the Bogota graffiti tour. We were taken on a walking tour of the barrio Candelaria, where we were staying. Over the course of the two-hour tour our guide explained all the different mediums utilized in street art including graffiti, wheat pasting, stencils, and sculptures. Additionally, he explained the history and the backgrounds of the artists as well as the political nature of their pieces.
In Colombia, with a history scarred by la violencia, many of these pieces depict its historical tragedy, as well as its citizens’ ability to overcome that history. Today, Bogota has one of most vibrant street art scenes in the world. Artists require nothing more than the owner’s permission to paint on the sides of walls due to the leniency of its laws regarding street art. Because of this, artists can paint during the daytime, which has allowed them to produce better quality works. At the same time, if artists are caught painting illegally in Bogota they receive nothing more than the equivalent to a parking ticket. This has raised the standard and quality of the work throughout the city.
We can contrast that with artists in the United States who are fined thousands of dollars for painting. In addition, in the United States, law enforcement agencies will build portfolios of artists’ work over years and years, so that when they finally catch them in the act they can fine them for hundreds of pieces over the course the artists’ careers. The difference in the level of acceptance between the U.S. and Colombia is the reason why artists from all over the world travel to Bogota to produce commanding street art pieces.
Some of the artists that we saw pieces from and discussed during our tour included Guache, Stinkfish, DJ LU, Bastardilla, Toxicomano, and Rodez who all call Bogota home. We also saw pieces from Pez from Barcelona, Spain and CRISP from Sydney, Australia.
I highly recommend taking the Bogota Graffiti tour to anyone planning on traveling to Colombia’s capital. For more information check out bogotagraffiti.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the artists check out these links: