Regulating transgressions/ transgressing regulations : graffiti, street art and muralism in Bogotá, Colombia




Ortiz Van Meerbeke, Gabriel

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This thesis attempts to capture the complexities of the urban art scene in Bogotá, Colombia. From 2011 to 2015, Gustavo Petro, the major of Bogotá, implemented Decreto 75, a decree that broke with the usual repressive approach towards street art and instead encouraged the production of “responsible and artistic graffiti”. By critically assessing the scope and breadth of this innovative legal framework, this thesis shows the inherent contradictions stemming from any attempt to regulate a transgression. This analysis is based on a review of official documents published by the Secretaría de Cultura, Recreación y Deporte (Bogotá’s Ministry of Culture, Recreation and Sport) and the Instituto Distrital de las Artes (Bogotá’s Art Institute), as well as an interview with a city official who was instrumental in drafting Decreto 75. The study also draws on ethnographic methods and 20 semi-structured interviews with graffiti writers, street artists, and muralists to document their lived experience and critically assess how they responded to this new legal framework. In doing so, this thesis shows how even flexible regulations will be transgressed. This study contributes to research on the politics of urban art and provides important insights for urban planners who seek to understand the important role of street art in the social production of public spaces.


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