The (very) few of you who regularly take time to read my paltry blog-offerings will, by now, have noticed a theme: I enjoy street-art. You’ve seen me write about it in Malaysia, Nova Scotia and elsewhere…but here it goes again. A familiar story paired with familiar musings and familiar photographs. Only this time, I’m in Bogota, Colombia!
I spent a weekend in Bogota for a work-conference with a colleague. It was a busy couple of days and, regrettably, I didn’t have time to spend endless hours exploring the city. However, with a free Sunday morning before catching our flight back to Asuncion, we decided to pursue a graffiti tour in the historic Candelaria district of Bogota.
After meeting our loosely organized tour in the late-morning, my colleague Erin, a dozen random people and I waddled behind our guide, Jay, like a group of obedient ducklings. As we wandered the side streets of Candelaria in search of the best graffiti-pieces, Jay, an active member of the street art community himself, regaled us with anecdotes about the history and personalities of the Colombian street-art scene. From the police-murder of Felipe Becerra, a sixteen-year-old graffiti artist in 2011, to Justin Beiber’s spray-paint escapades, the stories I heard were engaging, horrifying and intriguing all at once.
Omnipresent in the street-art of Bogota (and pretty much everywhere else) is the communication of important messages and ideas. By viewing the graffiti and listening to Jay, I absorbed a ton of insight into the political and social problems that plague Colombia. Painted reminders of Colombia’s relentless violence were ubiquitous on the technicolour walls and hotly contested economic issues, such as gold-mining and GMO foods, were clear visual motifs peppered throughout the tour. I suppose this is one of the reasons that I enjoy street art is because it is stimulating not only to my sense of beauty but also to my (highly limited) background knowledge. I can learn about a city from its graffiti in ways that stuffy art galleries can’t compete with. And learn I did I Bogota!
I don’t want to include very photo I took or explain every piece step by step because, well, that would be brutally boring. But I’ve included a montage some of my favorites below.