While living in Buenos Aires this past year, after getting over the impulse of photographing all the tourist spots in sight, I began taking photos of the graffiti and murals found all over the city. I had never given much thought to graffiti before, but in Buenos Aires they are so elaborate and powerful that I became fascinated with their stories. I kept wondering why I had never noticed this at home, in Montreal? Montreal is after all known in Canada as a very graffitied city. One of my conclusions is that the nature of graffiti is different. This is apparent when looking at the the case of Argentina and Chile, two countries very different in both culture and politics, but similar in that they are both recovering from repressive military dictatorships. In Canada, or North America in general, graffiti seems to be more prevalent in poorer neighborhoods where the population feels unable to use traditional media or political means to express themselves. Does the overwhelming presence of graffiti in Buenos Aires, Santiago and Valparaiso indicate that the media to this day does not allow the majority of voices to be heard? In essence I believe this is a fundamental aspect of graffiti. It arises out of a need of expression that can obviously not be satisfied by other mainstream alternatives. The difference between North America and South America is the extent to which graffiti is being either eradicated by the re-appropriation of city space by the municipalities, or commercialized by corporate America. I was lucky enough to spend half a year in Buenos Aires to research the issue. Here are some interesting examples:
I have recently decided to turn all this just-for-fun research into a graduate study project.
Here is my proposed research plan:
Graffiti and Political Communication