Street Art in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Reply Fri 2 Dec, 2005 07:49 am
Buenos Aires has always been a strong cultural pole within the concert of the Latin American nations. Setting trends and exploring the new as well as the avant-garde, Buenos Aires cultural groove has been -throughout its history- at the level of those within developed nations. In many other articles we've written about style, design, fashion and art, the Di Tella institute as a channel for the alternative artistic flow within 1960s pop art Buenos Aires. We also pointed out the fact that Argentina has not only explored the culture within the gray limit area -between vanguards and established- but also taken upon the early modernism challenge throughout the 19th century in the world of literature, architecture and philosophy.

In this occasion we feel it's important to explore a specific kind of cultural manifestation, that of the bohemian off limits, street-like art. It has grown greatly during the last couple of years at the time it has become one true cultural attraction within the city. Puppeteers, painters, musicians, actors, clowns, mimes, poets, dancers, and all sorts of plastic artists fill the streets with art related significant performances that offer an alternative approach to the world of sensitivity and creativeness in post millennium Buenos Aires.

Indeed there's a strong social, economical and political factor that pushes upon these street performances most of them excluded from the official, as well as the underground circuit.[1]

From the deep economic and social crisis that hit our nation back in the late days of 2001 raising to the top the unemployment rate at the time the traditional income provider salaries and jobs became depressed, a new perspective emerged as many artists and bohemians -feeling their known world of social participation was collapsing- chose to follow their passion; and with the aid of their creativity and whit they began to develop alternative "jobs" where to combine their passion with the possibility of earning a living.

Buenos Aires public transport options: subway, train and busses became mobile theatres for flash shows -as long as it takes the subway to go from a stop to the other is a possible time gap measure that has led us to describe them as flash shows. Improvisations in the underground, folk and rock n'roll live music on the trains, pop music aboard a bus have become a new and interesting feel of what was until recently, a boring ride to or from work.

On the other hand, trademark streets and walks such as Florida and Plaza Dorrego have transformed into open air dance studios where tango shows take place daily and especially during the weekend.

While traffic lights and cross roads turn into momentary circuses for juggling acts, fire and acrobatics as well as clown quick shows that entertain the drivers.

Along with these fine arts public shows we can also point out an intensive growth of street art throughout the city's walls. From traditional punk style graffiti's to stencil art with deep social and political connotations, the walls of Buenos Aires have become a huge canvass for a large portion of society that in need of cultural expression chose to explore alternative elements and "show rooms", addressing a new and little explored audience of the masses, those who never, or unusually frequent museums, show rooms, theatres and cultural environments of such style.

All and all, the borderline art in the Argentine society has also created its institutions and schools were to turn to for instruction, education, discussion and group work balance. One of the most interesting facets within this institutionalized world is the Mime School of Buenos Aires, located in San Telmo, as well as the ever growing clown schools. While these last institutions developed and grew in a gray area between the trendy underground alternative exercise world and the conceptual area of clown as a social manifestation; the first one was an avant-garde institution born in the early 1976 dictatorship years. Buenos Aires Mime School Parakultural grew to become a resistance environment to the censorship prevalent at the time against all cultural and social expressions. Today, over 26 years after the Mime School was born and under completely different situations we assist the birth of a broad and eclectic un-institutionalized public domain art trend in constant evolution. We should care upon a follow up regarding this post modern counter cultural trend in growth in our country.


[1] While official art scene work is mainly preserved for an exclusive line of recognized artists, the underground art world is no longer an alternative breakthrough stepping stone. For the trend and style of post modern world is to be off limits, the underground world has began to walk through a path of institutionalizing and new underground options are now being developed... street art being one of those stepping stones.

Hope you have enjoyed reading! Bob Frassinetti
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Reply Sun 4 Dec, 2005 06:43 pm
Very interesting, Bob. I think I am going to go there for a visit later this year. Thanks for the article. It sounds like such a beautiful place. I have heard great things about it. Are you an expatriate? If so, how long have you lived there?
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Reply Tue 13 Dec, 2005 07:51 pm
The best contemporary art magazine published in South America is Art Nexus published in Colombia. It tracks and critiques current shows all over Latin America.
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Reply Tue 13 Dec, 2005 08:14 pm
Thanks for the clue, Pitter, I'll look into that.

I have an online friend who lectures about art and architecture at the university of buenos aires, or did last we conversed. He goes to italy a lot so we have some of the same enthusiasms. I met him when he posted one single question on another forum I was on - and that was his only post there - asking what to see, architecture and landscape-wise, when he was on a tour of the US to give some lectures.

His name is Eduardo Cervera. He does marvelous watercolors of cities in his mind, that is, not from photos but memory. If I can find a link to his work I'll post it.
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Reply Wed 14 Dec, 2005 05:36 pm
Here's the link to Art Nexus:

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Reply Mon 29 May, 2006 04:59 pm
some more information on Sreet Art here in Buenos Aires ....
Street art, is an English-American origin term that as it name describes is a specific kind of art that takes upon public spaces, walls, streets and monument as their "canvass". The intrinsically broadness of the label attached to this kind of artistic expression that takes place on the streets in a non authorized manner, aims to contain a variety of artistic expressions that contain but exceed the traditional Graffiti idea of art.

During the 90s the post graffiti era of street art introduces an array of techniques, styles and art conceptions that leads us to believe a new sort of art form is being born right under our eyes. The use of stencils, posters, stickers, tiling, collage upon public or external private walls produce a set of codes that can properly be defined as a singularized style of public-private art that's mainly authorless at least in the way it's shown to the un expertise passerby eye.

No signing, no name attached, the individual creation becoming public turns social by means of an unnoticed and generalized appropriation of concept, style, idea and therefore, creates a completely new art world in which artists work anonymously producing collective works. The shared canvass that becomes the wall, is not a singularized property sheet that can be owned individually, whereas the work itself becomes part of a rather bigger and more extensive conception for it shares it's meaning with other significances provided by the surrounding neighboring works that have chose to be laid next to each other.

Then, the autonomous production becomes wholesome as part of a miscellaneous work upon public space that's continuously addressed as unfinished, at least until the last bit of the canvass-wall is "artisitized", lacking of a better word, we can invent one that aims to describe the artistic unconnected unknown collective-individual creative process.

The city of Buenos Aires, alike other big cosmopolite capitals around the globe has witnessed the development of these trends and styles throughout the last couple of years. And, since we find this movement extremely interesting, we'll be soon posting inside pieces on the nature and source of this movement, styles, development and current situation.
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Reply Sat 13 Jun, 2009 08:55 am
There is a new street art tour in Buenos Aires, called graffitimundo. It's run by 2 girls who work with the street artists. There's more information about it here, at www.graffitimundo.com
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