Arts & Entertainment

Graffiti, a reflection of Colombia’s social protests

Jorge Gil Angel

Bogota, Aug 21 (EFE).- The streets of Colombia’s main cities were transformed during the protests in May and June, as graffiti artists used city walls to display the demonstrators’ emotions.

The image of a raised fist, accompanied by the text “Fuerza pueblo” (‘People’s strength’), stands out in the Beta Gallery, one of the two venues of “Más que Calle”, an exhibition in Bogota showcasing works by more than 30 artists who have lifted graffiti out of its original, urban habitat.

“What I have in the background, which is this fist that was and is at this moment at the monument of Los Heroes, for us is extremely important because it is a totally representative piece of everything that happened during the strike,” the director and founder of Beta Gallery, Daniela Camero Rosso, tells Efe.

The protests in May and June were mostly peaceful, but rallies in Cali and Bogota turned violent.

The Attorney General’s Office has documented more than 20 deaths in the 50 days of protests, but several human rights organizations place that figure at 84 — at least 20 by police gunfire.

The unrest led to the streets being filled with new graffiti highlighting the social struggles of the protesters and even led to graffiti on the asphalt.

Much of these works still remain as a new artform that has given more visibility to people who are dedicated to denouncing police brutality through street art.

“As a result of the national strike, graffiti made an internal implosion due to the paintings on the ground. Putting on this exhibition at this time is to give visibility to an issue that did not have it before but which has always been going on,” Maria Rodriguez, one of the curators of the exhibition and member of the Bogotart collective, tells Efe.

The acronym ACAB (“All cops are bastards”, in English), messages such as “Our fight is for life” or “Dignity” and images of protesters and social leaders fill the walls of the Beat and Beat Pop galleries, which along with Bogotart organized the exhibition.

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