During this trip my passion for photography, art and design has translated itself in a side project to take pictures of street art along the road. Although my main focus is on murals and the like, I also consider art objects displayed in public places to be covered by the term ‘street art’.
I feel that the availability of street art in a country does not only show the creativity around, but also shows a certain tolerance of official authorities towards art in public spaces and the acceptance of freedom to express oneself. Although the latter may seem as something automatic for many reading this post, we should not forget that there have been – and still are – many countries in which people were or are not able to express themselves freely, where any expression of art is limited to those expressions that comply to the narrow-minded views of a state.
Chile is one of those nations in Latin America where expressions of art were strictly controlled by the Pinochet-regime in the seventies and eighties of the previous century. Consequently local artists fled the country at the best opportunity given. It is said that the art scene in Chile is still somewhat underdeveloped because of this, at least if compared to other Latin American countries, and yes, although considered well developed economically by now, the art scene was far from what I expected from a prosperous nation like Chile. Surely Valparaiso was a welcoming exception, and actually it is there where this side project started.
The fact that murals actually depict the thoughts, the history and the culture of a nation made me stop more and more often at those murals around, where others would just walk past it and see it as graffiti, something not belonging on the streets. So that was the start – Valparaiso. Have a look at my post on street art in this city here.
Fairly soon after Valparaiso, Chile, we crossed the border to Argentina. Here the street art mainly seemed to depict dissatisfaction with political or social situations, besides murals of national and historical heroes such as Maradona and Che Guevara. Once in a while you would come across some decorative murals, but these often appeared to be wall paintings used in a marketing sense, for example in pubs or restaurants.
Traveling through Argentina in times of president Mrs. Fernandez Kirchner’s reign, the support to decisions such as to nationalize the petrol company YPF or attempts to obtain the Malvinas (the name the Argentinians use for the Falkland Islands controlled by the British) ‘back’, could also be seen in the street art around. Argentinian street art is clearly more nationalistic than it is in neighbouring Chile.
Do you happen to know any of the street artists who made the above work? Please let us know at [email protected], so we can credit them for their work.
Have a look at the Street Art Argentina Photo Gallery if you like to see some more street art pictures from Argentina.