Guest post by Marmo, April 2011
Cachando Chile readers know I love graffiti–good graf–and spend a lot of time photographing it. Today we have a guest post from Marmo–a long-time Cachando Chile friend who lives in Temuco and who took up the cause, his camera and a pen to share a bit of the Temuco graf scene. Thanks Marmo!
Whenever I see graffiti on different blogs, I wonder what the painters wanted to say or show with their images. It’s not only about the artist’s abilities, but sometimes it’s also about how much the paintings unintentionally say about the environment or artist’s feelings. Choosing one image or another not only tells what the artist wants to express in a direct, metaphoric or even cryptic way, but it also provides some context about the city or place where the graffiti was painted.
From its beginnings, this form of expression was constructed as an unofficial, rebellious, and even aggressive way of translating ideas into images in places where a lot of people could see and even interact with them, by responding with new graffiti or other forms of expression.
Long, LONG before Facebook or Twitter, from maybe thousands of years ago, urban graffiti became an effective vehicle to express ideas that couldn’t or shouldn’t appear in official media. I have never seen graffiti that addresses ideas discussed on irrelevant TV shows; they very often try to be the expression of those who can’t express themselves or those who live on the outer edges of our social system. Temuco, in southern Chile, is a good example of this. Temuco is a city in permanent conflict for several reasons, such as centralism, the Mapuche conflict, and poverty. You can always feel a sentiment of struggle, vindication, the search for justice, or repressed expression in the air.
I’ve seen graffiti in other Chilean cities, and some had no more reason to exist than being nice pictures or showing how talented the painters were. Temuco is different. I spent the past few days looking for and at graffiti in this city, and I realized that almost all of it was used to convey ideas and show some of the issues that confront the entire city.
Like anywhere else, there are also those who try desperately to cover any wall with black or red scribbles and signatures, and there are also a lot of lines and short messages about protests, the freedom of some Mapuche detainee, or the abuse of some local authority.
In its more elaborate form, which is graffiti I was looking for, I also noted a feeling of social unrest. Almost all of it had some kind of social message that was easy to understand and that left you with something to think about if you gave it enough time and attention.
And here with environmental theme.
And more indigenous issues…
Emiliano Zapata’s skeleton was a little hard to understand image in this context at first, but on second thought, Zapata used to command the Ejército del Sur (Southern Army) in the revolutionary history of Mexico, so, maybe it appears as a suggestion to make use of force or violence against the abuse some of these corporations do against people and environment.
As I could see, in Temuco graffiti is more than just nice paintings, much of it is really worth the time to cross the street for a closer look. There is much more than I could take pictures of, but I hope some of you can see it with your own eyes someday if you come to southern Chile, where it show a small and often ignored cultural aspect of our cities.
Marmo is half of the duo behind the Marmotitas blog.
Want to see more Chilean graffiti? Click on “Graffiti” in the Category Listing (in the right-hand column).