It is said that a city with white walls is an ill city that screams for help. Thankfully, that’s not the case in this city. You can see different manifestations (aka alternative graphic movements in Bogotá) of what the city wants to say in every corner and on every wall. Every day, it screams in multicolor murals and graffiti that say to your face, “hey, I am here,” however, below all of that graffiti and tagging, it relies on an inner subculture of artists that produce subtle stickers and autonomous publications to speak their minds.
One of the places where you can find all of these little tiny precious and alternative things is La Valija de Fuego on Carrera 7 and Calle 46. It’s a funky place that serves one of the best coffees in Chapinero and that is the melting pot of alternative editorials in Bogotá. Behind this funky exterior, you can actually find a lot of the best fanzines, most of which are made by hand by local artists, printed on low quality paper and high quality irony, depicting the true pulse of Bogotá: how public transportation in the city can actually be the best way to find new love and a nice recipe to prepare a cake of pot with bananas.
The true pulse of Bogotá via tags and stickers
Usually, when I walk around the city, I pay attention to all the details or stickers on every traffic sign and light post. Most of them are made by hand or with the simple technique of ink printing. Most of them use simple resources like words (parce, buena la rata) and symbols of everyday situations, such as an empanada, a pig depicting the general consideration of political views, and even the faces of grandparents and elders remembering our hardworking farmer background.
As was established by the New York Times in an article, Bogota is stated as one of the hippest and upcoming cities in Latin America depicting a wide variety of art and culture sizzling in a colonial neighborhood, (La Candelaria) . However, as we seasoned Bogotans know, the city is more than the vestiges colony. Art is everywhere, in the periphery and in the center; it’s in every protest, event, and every manifestation of existence via visual media.
It is hard not to see and lose yourself in every little appropriation of the city manifested in a small piece of sticker paper and it is also easy to lose yourself in the often placed autonomous fairs of graphics and design that take place around the city that allow you to purchase these small pieces and fanzines and especially get to know the upcoming artists while you grab a beer or a vegan muffin.
The graphics production of the city is not only focused on selling and getting almost rich coin by coin, this movement is also working for the preservation of the memories of the current thoughts and needs of the people. In fact, the National Library of Colombia has started to collect and archive several fanzines in order to preserve the production of artists that ever since the 80’s, have been doodling and screening the reality and the underground reality of the city via their individual points of view.
They depict the underground reality of the city via their individual points of view.
Now, it’s important to know that the scale of this alternative graphic movement is not always fit to stay in your pocket. Some artist collectives have impulse events, such as Grabado sobre ruedas (Engraving on wheels) and the engraving encounter in public space by P3 collective, in which engraving and serial production is taken to bigger perspectives and invades public space with strong messages and images and reminders that the city needs to scream.
Here is the thing, beauty is easily seen in the big picture, but actually these little details in Bogotá that have us stuck observing the same wall for 10 minutes and admiring a small page in a 10 by 10 cm book are what actually transform the perspective in which this beauty is seen. Supporting these kinds of events and production is actually encouraging more people to speak up and rethink their everyday life. The beauty of it is that we all get to be a part of it, participate, create, buy and repost what we see. All in all, information is power and we all get to take part in its making.
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