Graffiti in Chile

8 March 2008
2:46 PM

One of my favorite parts of walking through Chilean cities was the eclectic street art and graffiti. Especially in Valparaiso and the Bellavista neighborhood of Santiago, areas brimming with color, I thought graffiti added to the streets’ quirkiness. Graffiti is often characterized by its free-form, unplanned, random expression, but many of the examples I saw were a kind of internal contradiction: stenciled graffiti—spray paint confined by plastic templates.

Some of the specimins I found were so entirely whimsical or strange that it was hard not to be charmed by them. Here are three of my favorites:

Climbing and tight-rope walking

Men on pipes and tightropes This piece has probably the best placement of any I’ve seen.

An international outlaw.

An international outlaw. So, uh, where is he?

I love umbrellas.

I love you umbrellas. I’m not sure why I like this one so much, but there’s something charming about the non sequitur replacement of “you” with a picture of an umbrella.

You can check out the rest of the graffiti photos I took over at Flickr (or in a slideshow!) Much of the graffiti expresses political messages, some of which may be particularly offensive to Americans. But I figure that if you’re not offended or shocked on a regular basis, then you’re living an insular life and you don’t really know what people around the world think. That said, take these photos with a grain of salt.