Los muros nos hablan : graffiti in Valparaíso, Chile
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The city of Valparaiso is an incredibly complex city with multiple actors each with a different cultural agenda. Compounded by the unclear laws and politics surrounding the 2003 UNESCO world heritage designation, it is an urban center brimming with tension. Within this space, graffiti articulates an unmediated, anti-hegemonic voice within the public sphere. The tactics and strategies used to disseminate this cultural expression have allowed graffiti to find a tenuous, if ever present existence in the city. Paradoxically, as the individual authors tactically and strategically align to produce a forceful graffiti movement, they have also put themselves and their graffiti in a position where it can be usurped and used for the purposes of promoting Valparaiso as a hip, bohemian site of authentic, consumable culture. Graffiti can be read as a written signal of disaccord, yet its move into the codified gallery spaces of Chilean government re-inscribe graffiti within a historical cannon determined by cultural and government authorities. By exploring graffiti in São Paulo as a parallel to graffiti in Valparaiso and the Expo Graffiti Porteño, I problematize the practice of delineating graffiti into categories of art verses vandalism. This division is polemical and divisive and obscures the significance of all and any graffiti within the public sphere. Ultimately, this project seeks to examine graffiti’s marginal position and the consequences of its acceptance by institutions that confer artistic or cultural legitimacy.