Glimpses of a real Buenos Aires

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As previously mentioned Buenos Aires is not one of those places where you checklist your way through a list of tourist attractions like London, Paris, or New York. Yet there are wonderful and unique things to see and do. One such “thing” is seeing the graffiti or street art.

In Argentina in general, but specifically in Buenos Aires, street writing or street art is commonplace. Almost every building in some districts will have an image or a tag, and you see it covering huge walls or even whole buildings in other areas. Unlike many parts of Europe or the US, where graffiti would be considered vandalism, street painting is very much accepted in Argentina (although it is still illegal). The level of acceptance is so high that even political parties use street art, in the form of stylised banners, slogans and images, to convey their messages to the people. So, while their European cousins may continue to be considered vandals, young portenos grow up seeing wonderful, colourful and often poignant displays evolving around them on a regular basis.

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El Nestornauta“. A political image seen across Buenos Aires.

As the prevalence of the art form grows so do supporting resources such as graffiti art studios, tours and galleries that offer education and information to visitors and residents alike. One such tour provided by the not-for-profit Graffitimundo, which we took in late January, takes participants on a three hour tour of the Colegiales and Palmero districts introducing them to local artists as well as providing historical context and commentary to the images, techniques and montages seen. Like the Parrilla Tour, we felt that the graffiti tour allowed us to get to know some more of the real Buenos Aries. Much of the political history discussed could easily be read elsewhere but when accompanied by images and scenes all around us it took on new meaning and significance. We found that, just like understanding the history and relevance of the Pantheon or the Tower of London, learning about what certain images meant and why they were created added a new layer to our understanding of this huge city and helped us see it in yet another new way.

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A giant piece we saw as we walked through the San Telmo part of town by the artist Spanish artist, Aryz.

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