Monday, June 9, 2014

Botero Gets No Respect in Bogotá


A physique sculpture in Chicago, USA.
How quickly can you guess which of these monumental sculptures by Fernando Botero is in the capital of his homeland?

A smoking woman in Armenia.
In the U.S., Italy, Armenia, Berlin and Israel Botero's work gets respect..in Bogotá, it gets tagged.

Man on Horseback, Bogota, Colombia
Woman lying down in Tuscany, Italy.
Man on Horse, Jerusalem, Israel.

In Bogotá, a Botero sculpture means an opportunity for scrawl.

Man on Horseback, Bogota, Colombia
The Botero sculpture in front of the Parque Renacimiento, near the Central Cemetery.

The Hand, in Madrid, Spain.

Woman Seated, Berlin, Germany.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

5 comments:

D Lee said...

Graffiti is not endemic to Bogotá. It’s a worldwide problem, but like your article points out, vandalizing Botero sculpture isn’t done in Chicago, Madrid, Berlin, Jerusalem, Tuscany, Armenia, etc. Why is it a problem in Bogotá?

The amount of graffiti in and around Bogotá is staggering and a visual blight on the city and it conveys a message that the people of Bogotá have no respect for public or private property. In most cities, a large amount of graffiti is a sign of decay and lawlessness and an acknowledgement by public officials and local residents that they’ve been defeated or simply don’t care.

A mural (beautiful or not) that is illegally painted on public or private property is graffiti. Some people want to embrace and celebrate it as “street art”, a “lifestyle”, a form of “political protest”, etc. and encourage others to do the same. Taggers would argue that they too are street artists or making a political statement or, most likely, marking their territory like an alpha dog spraying on a tree. Unchecked graffiti spawns more graffiti.

I live in Seattle which has a Graffiti Nuisance Ordinance. Graffiti must be removed in 10 days after notice from the city. If not, the property owner is fined US$100 per day. That’s usually a big enough incentive for the property owner to remove the graffiti. The city also encourages residents to paint over graffiti by supplying FREE paint, rollers, brushes, scrapers, and gloves.

If only the residents of Bogotá would take pride in their city and/or demand public officials to take action to stop the vandalism.

Miguel said...

Hi D Lee,

I suspect that there are also social norms which limit graffiti/tagging in Seattle.

But I see a huge difference between simple 'graffiti', which is mostly writing and scrawling, and street art, which can really beautiful a dull area.

Mike

Miguel said...

Hi D Lee,

I suspect that there are also social norms which limit graffiti/tagging in Seattle.

But I see a huge difference between simple 'graffiti', which is mostly writing and scrawling, and street art, which can really beautiful a dull area.

Mike

D Lee said...

I’m not sure what you mean by “social norms.” Is it respect for public and private property? Is it obeying the rule of law against vandalism? Is it community pride in the place that they live and work? Is it wanting to live in a clean and orderly place? Shouldn’t the people of Bogotá be expected to have these same “social norms”?

I also respectfully disagree with your argument that “street art” is different than “tagging.” By your argument, if someone owns a building in Bogotá and someone illegally paints or draws a mural, it’s not graffiti. Instead it should be celebrated as “street art.” What if it’s an ugly mural or a mural with a political or religious theme that I do not approve? When does “street art” cross the line to become vandalism? If I’m the owner of that building, it’s VANDALISM.

By your argument, if the taggers had painted bright beautiful flowers on the Botero sculptures, it could be considered “street art” because it beautified what some would consider dull or drab colored sculptures.

There are dull and drab building (most of them are government buildings) all over Seattle, London, Tokyo, Toronto, Madrid, Singapore, Chicago, Moscow, etc. I truly hope that this type of thinking that it’s OK to use graffiti to brighten up drab doesn’t become a trend in the rest of the world. There are many drab colored buildings and structures that are architecturally beautiful, e.g., churches, bridges, colonial buildings, lighthouses. Colorful graffiti won’t make them more beautiful. Instead, it tarnishes it.

In a nutshell, graffiti is vandalism.

Miguel said...

Hi D Lee,

I think that all the things you list are cultural norms - but that doesn't mean they're necessarily good.

The same is true of graffiti and street art. There's good and bad art on cities' walls, just as there's good and bad art in every museum. I think that good street art brightens up lots of walls all around Bogotá - but that doesn't mean it's a good thing everywhere.

That said, giving the public the opportunity to write messages on the walls of the White House and La Casa Nariño sounds like it has potential.

Mike