Love it or hate it, graffiti has been around as long as there have been public spaces. From the interiors of ancient caves to the walls of Pompeii to subway cars in Brooklyn, humans have always made their presence known using this subversive art form. Graffiti is about making one's mark, creating a legend and a constantly evolving conversational history.
Street art in Buenos Aires is unlike anywhere else in the world. It isn't viewed under the umbrella of vandalism, but as a respected art form and beautification of an already architecturally dazzling city. Here, instead of sneaking around under the cover of night, artists work during the day, chatting with homeowners and passers-by while working on their latest project. Artists usually gain permission before beginning their work, and are even sought out by building owners who'd like to add something interesting to their bare walls.
Thanks to an informative tour by the folks at Graffiti Mundo, I was able to get an insider's view and learn some of the stories of the artists whose work you see all around the city. Graffiti Mundo began in 2009, out of a need to connect a network of local street artists with a curious public. The knowledgeable docents lead you through the streets of Buenos Aires, where talks include not only information about the physical characteristics of each piece, but a rich history of place and a story of the people who live, work and play in this beautiful city.
(Images: Smith Schwartz)