By Holly Stanley
Graffiti Mundo and Street Art Festival Meeting of Styles
Buenos Aires is home to the best street art Latin America has to offer. Visitors to this city absolutely must take a guided tour of many of the city’s street art hotspots. Graffiti Mundo offer several highly recommended English speaking walking tours. Why not begin with their urban art and activism tour of the southern barrios of La Boca and Barracas?
Street Art in La Boca and Barracas
First time visitors to Buenos Aires may be familiar with the colourful corrugated iron houses that are so often pictured on guide books of Buenos Aires. These houses form a part of La Boca on a pedestrianised street called El Caminito, supposedly the home of tango. Whilst this part of the La Boca is certainly a must see for any visitor to Buenos Aires, it is incredibly touristic and doesn’t really require more than an hour or so. However La Boca is so much more than this. Traditionally a working class neighbourhood, it is now home to some stunning street art. For those of you wanting to get off the well trodden tourist path, don’t write off the rest of La Boca, head straight for a guided tour with Graffiti Mundo of the local street art and hidden wall murals.
La Boca is the perfect place to start your street art discovery of Buenos Aires. Since this area is rich in history and culture, it is teeming with street art. The great thing about taking a tour is that you will really get a sense of the politics and social history that is being expressed through the street art. The experienced tour guide will also show you many of the more hidden murals which would be hard to locate otherwise.
Many artists choose to create a politically charged piece, like this one here, found a few paces away from El Caminito.
You may have heard of Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo – The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, who every Thursday at 15:30 for the last 40 years have marched in aid of their children who disappeared during the military dictatorship. This mural shows the strength of their longtime fight for justice.
This one too represents the political mood of a time when La Boca declared itself a republic and independent from the other Porteño barrios (1876 – 1888). These days, although a fully integrated barrio of the city of Buenos Aires, you can definitely feel a strong sense of unity and independence from the rest of the city.
Politics aside, many of La Boca’s street art refers to football and the Boca Juniors football team which resides in La Bombonera football stadium. Of course many depict the infamous Diego Maradona who is often hailed as the God of football.
As a side note, for an authentic argentine parilla and the best choripan La Boca has to offer head to El Gran Paraiso Calle Gral Jose Garibaldi 1428.
Street Art in Palermo
Undoubtedly for some of your visit to Buenos Aires you will end up spending some of your time in Palermo due to the high volume of bars, cafes and boliches (clubs) and Spanish Schools. Known as the city’s artsy, creative and hip barrio, Palermo is loaded with some of the city’s most striking street art. Graffiti Mundo also offers a North City tour which offers a look at the eclectic and vibrant street art scene in Palermo and beyond. You will see a wide range of street art by world class artists. This tour is also fantastic in offering the opportunity to understand a little more about the development of street art in Buenos Aires as well as a visit to two art galleries.
Many of the barrio’s shop owners are more than happy to allow a street artist to completely take over their shop front, since more than likely it will be become some sort of landmark and point of interest.
Street Art in San Telmo
With many popular tourist attractions such as the tango and the Sunday morning feria, San Telmo will almost certainly be on your to do list long before you arrive. Think cobbled streets, crumbling colonial mansions combined with the smoky smell of parilla and you’ll have a pretty good picture of what San Telmo is about.
An attraction in itself, Buenos Aires’ oldest barrio is another great place to go hunting for street art. Historical, but with a creative, somewhat bohemian vibe, it is the perfect back drop for street artists to show off their creativity.
Street Art Festivals in Buenos Aires – Meeting of Styles
A new addition to Buenos Aires’ art scene is the introduction of international street art festivals such as Meeting of Styles (17 – 19 November 2017). With fewer restrictions than in many major World capitals, artists from all over the World as well as from Argentina are able to take advantage of this. In just 3 days hundreds of artists will join this annual festival to paint many new murals across the city. With so many abandoned buildings and wallspace, La Boca is often a popular place for street artists. Be sure to check it out.
Wandering around Buenos Aires can sometimes feel like you’ve walked into a free open air museum. Learn Spanish while taking a tour (or 2) is a brilliant way of understanding Buenos Aires’ diverse and vibrant street art scene as well as discovering a few of the more hidden locations.