We love street art so, when we read about the Bogota graffiti tour, we knew we had to sign up. The Bogota graffiti tour is one of those free tours where you are expected to tip at the end of the tour — we were told the going rate is about $10 per person — and the tour was worth every penny.
Our guide Jeff was absolutely fantastic. He was knowledgeable about the art and not afraid to talk about hard topics. Plus, the tour got us to walk down some streets we had not previously visited.
Graffiti in Bogota has an interesting history. Back in 2011, the Bogota police shot and killed an 18 year old artist known as Tripido as he was spray painting his signature Felix the Cat. The cops tried to cover it up and accused the kid of being an armed robber. The community protested and the UN even condemned the shooting. This shooting is seen as one of the turning points in the way Bogota authorities viewed graffiti. Then, in 2013, Justin Bieber decided to go out and create some art (a Canadian flag with a pot leaf, how lame can you get) and the cops actually escorted him for protection and even closed a busy street. Well, as you can imagine, this did not go over too well with the local artists. They staged a 24 hour protest — during which the Bieb’s “art” was quickly covered up. Ultimately, graffiti was decriminalized and now the city even sometimes provides incentives to create art.
This wall is outside of a travel agency. The piece is called Vindication (I think) and it is intended to make the invisible (like domestic workers and farmers and ethnic minorities) visible. It wasn’t commissioned, but it was authorized by the building owner.
Robert and I loved these crazy animals on the side of a power plant.
We also learned that only about 10% of the Bogota street artists are women. The below piece is by the most famous female artist in Bogota. I have to admit, I didn’t really care for it.
We also saw art regarding the recent protests in Bogota. An 18 year old kid named Dilan Cruz was shot in the head by the police (with a “nonlethal” weapon) while protesting for better access to education. The corner where he was shot and died is filled with tributes.
We also learned that not all the artists like the graffiti tours. Some of them post messages on the route.
I particularly liked this piece. This is part of a larger piece, but check out the bats made of machine guns.
And, we would be remiss if we didn’t include the cat wall. This piece was commissioned by a restaurant and a group called the ABC collective filled the wall with cats.
This is just a teeny, tiny selection of the art that can be found in Bogota. It is everywhere, and much of it is beautiful.