The best way to understand a city is to understand its street art and this is especially true for Colombia’s bustling capital Bogota. Coming into the city it is impossible not to notice the amount of art along the highway and within the streets. Politics, culture, history, travel, personal stories all illustrated in bold colours to be enjoyed, for free by the masses. I have a passion for street art and the street art tour offered in Bogota gave us new insights and information about the crazy history of this city and the political situation with regards to the art community. Number 1 on tripadvisor for a reason!
The story of street art in Bogota and Colombia is a rollercoaster of police brutality, hypocrisy and double standards. In 2011 a 16 year old boy called Felipe Diago was shot under a bridge after being caught spray painting his signature “Felix the Cat”. The police managed to cover up the incident and got a light punishment. Later in 2013 pop prince Justin Bieber arrived in town and under the cover of darkness, and the protection of Bogota police officers, Bieber spray painted a maple leaf with a marijuana leaf as a tribute to his dead hamster Pac. This sounds absolutely ridiculous right? Well it happened, and outrage spread throughout Bogota’s creative community. So, in order to protest with the style and intelligence of any good art community, 100’s of artists took to the streets and covered the walls with colour and vibrant art. Now Bogota and many cities in Colombia are an absolute feast for your eyeballs!
But the work I love the most is the more controversial, illegal and political work. Colombia has a fascinating history of civil war, drugs and corruption which are all running themes through the street art of Bogota.
This amazing wall below was put together by several different artists and depicts themes of greed, corporate America and the hideous “Plan Colombia” (For more info on this outrageous violation of human rights check out this wiki link: Plan Colombia)
One of the other great things about the tour was the emphasis on looking up. There are some very clever, very sneaky sculptures at work around the city as well as painters.
Street art is a beautiful, peaceful way of expressing the voices which often go unheard. If you find yourself in Colombia I would highly recommend this tour.