Buenos Aires’ Street Art Movement – Part 1

I’m somewhat overwhelmed when it comes to writing about Buenos Aires (B.A.) because there is so much I love about it. There’s the culture, the architecture, the history and politics, the people I met, the accommodations I stayed in, the various neighbourhoods, and my overall experiences. I had wanted to visit for so long and was only going to stay five or six days and ended up staying ten. I arrived on Sunday, March 11th and a day later I was admittedly very homesick and decided to change my ticket to come home two to three weeks early. But, I sobered up, met some great guys when I was learning to tango, learned to play and successfully won a game of polo with a new friend from Scotland and I met a great group of Aussies at an unforgettable gastronomical evening. As the time passed I wanted to see my duration through as it’s not every day one gets away to South America for eight weeks. I’m loving it.

Love this mural below and at the bottom – “Occupy The Mushrooms!”

One of the most favourite things I have ever done on a trip was the Graffiti Tour that Buenos Aires offers. I don’t know where Toronto sits in the global street art movement but I know that I live a block from one of the most prolific areas with stunning exposés, an area where many TV shows and films are shot. And, I’m proud to say that a store devoted entirely to street art paint resides on my street as well as another around the corner. Even my Quebeçois neighbour is a street artist of sorts and has painted a beautiful term of endearment, in French, on the wall across the street for his wife to look at each day. It seems to me that I might be living in the thick of what Toronto has to offer and it has sparked my interest for more. (Examples of Toronto’s street art to come).

Buenos Aires’ street art movement is centered in the neighbourhood of Palermo, a bohemian sort of area with chic shops, cafes and some of the best restaurants that B.A. has to offer. The history of how it came to begin in Buenos Aires is quite interesting because B.A. was quite a late bloomer due to the political turmoil that encompassed Argentina until 1983 and then their massive economic crisis which ended in 2002. It has only been since then that Argentineans have felt somewhat safe and even then there isn’t an Argentinean I met who believes in their government and politicians. I mean, in a three week period in 2001 Argentina had five presidents! (More on Argentina’s history to come in a later post).

With that said, Argentineans had a lot to say and express. B.A.’s street artists were inspired by artists around the world, some travelled and brought home influences and styles from the US and Europe, particularly Berlin (deemed the capital of street art by street artists worldwide) and then the Internet opened up a whole world to them. Today’s street art in Buenos Aires’ reflects their diverse history and many street artists from B.A. still split their time between Berlin and Buenos Aires honing and spreading their craft.

This collaborative mural (above) was the first piece that brought several street artists together as one; creating a family of sorts, uniting in graffiti and street art.  The message to all was to communicate the importance of living in the now. To connect with what is around you especially when politics change on a dime; loved ones were prosecuted, disappeared and died and street art was one of the best ways Argentineans could protest without fear of prosecution, gaining momentum and support along the way.

A few facts about graffiti/street art that I learned:

  • Graffitti is looked as the scrawl you’ll see, which perhaps doesn’t hold much beauty. It is recognized as one of the first steps in becoming a street artist and is where an artist begins experimenting with his tag (his name), by which he/she will be known by.
  • Very often artists move and meet all around the world, collaborating on murals. One example is Canada’s Troy Lovegates – “Other’s” participation below (lefthand character) who has taken part in a few in B.A. From what I understand, Other’s street art passion began by tagging on trains, and he studied fine art and muralism.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/other/
  • Artists believe that once their art is on the wall that it belongs to the people. If someone “tags” their artwork it is respected for the most part, taken as a sign of admiration. However, artists do not tag or draw over the pieces of art but in blank spaces in and around the piece. Example, Glicho tagged by em2 in the photo below (on rolling shutters in middle). This particular piece of street art increased the value of this property and the new owners opening a toy store chose it specifically because of the mural.
  • Often artists in the developmental stage will experiment writing their tag in large puffy letters. And often you’ll see this put into play in a “bomb,” which occurs say in the case of someone putting a poster over a piece of street art, propelling the artist to return and “bomb” the poster with his name.
  • Street art constantly evolves with artists adding piece by piece but never touching others’ additions.

Here are some favourites taken on the tour, so many to choose from. My next post will highlight a few of my favourite artists and styles. On my tour we even got to see two artists in action. Amazing!

Horseman with spray can in hand – Done by an English artist who often comes to B.A.

6 Responses to Buenos Aires’ Street Art Movement – Part 1

  1. Love the art! Thanks for your description. It’s great for a city (as long as people want it on their building). I must mention to my husband about writing an endearing message on the side of the barn. How sweet is that!

    Joanne March 30, 2012 at 8:06 AM Reply
    • Absolutely Joanne! Every man should be required to write endearing messages on whatever real estate is nearby! Send me a pic of the barn when it’s done! He can start with a tag, lol.

      juliemunsch March 30, 2012 at 6:43 PM Reply
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  3. Pingback: Buenos Aires’ Street Art Movement – Part 2 « The Travelling Munschkin

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