Art in Chile: The story of the streets


Art is a depiction or demonstration of one´s soul. The canvas is simply a means of portraying such. One’s thoughts and feelings are poured onto/into this means and the end result may vary according to the artist. Some artists wish to entertain. Others seek to enlighten. Some seek approval, while others it´s darker reverse. And as the ends may vary, the canvas, the platform, and/or the means, may vary as well. In Chile one obvious form of the country´s art´s means and expression is through graffiti. The street itself is a canvas, and the buildings are alive with stories of the country´s desires, thoughts, emotions, and disdain. One can´t help but to appreciate said art, as it is in fact a piece of the country. The chilean experience would not be complete without this crucial variable. My interest is in the art itself, as well as the motives of the artist. What stories are being told on these walls? And by whom are these stories told? 

The walk took me an hour and a half. That´s how long it took for me to walk from my school, the University of Andres Bello, to my apartment, near Manuel Montt in Providencia. It was indeed a walk to remember. Not just because of the friendly faces, nor the Chilean stares, nor the eternal temptress, which is the aroma of Chilean cuisine, but because for an hour and a half I was assaulted, pinned down, and ravaged by colors. Faded blues, baneful blacks and waning whites consumed my very soul. And in it´s forceful grasp I found delight in my weakness to its assault. Most of these assailants were names, some were sentences, and others, fewer, were images or symbols. Some stories seemed to be that of aggression and comtempt. ¨Free education for all!!!¨ ¨The war of the social classes is inevitable!!!¨ Others were words of obligation, of encouragement, and in some cases of love. Some walls contained intricate pieces, which must have taken hours if not days to complete. One cannot say that there was any single message being spread, aside from this: ¨These streets, these buildings, these walls are ours. And our voices will be heard.¨ I for one am a witness. As for the identities of these artists, it could be said that they probably came from the lower social classes. But this too, could be mistaken. As varied as the messages, so too most likely were the messengers. All that can be said with certainty is that it is indeed art, created by artists. And it was indeed a walk to remember.  

Art is a depiction or demonstration of one’s soul. The canvas is simply a means of portraying such. In Chile there is what one could call a Renaissance of Art. And the streets themselves are the chosen canvas. Beware all of those faint of heart. In this country, you will see their stories. You will hear their voices. You will feel their pain, their joy, their fears, and their sorrows. But fear not. If nothing else, if not your approval or contempt given, if nothing else, you will remember.