Monday, May 14, 2018

A Makeover for Rita

Cyclists observe Rita in the Parque Nacional.
The long-suffering Rita's
graffitied torso.
Rita, 5:30 p.m., the sculpture by Enrique Grau on Carrera Septina in Bogotá's Parque Nacional has become something of an unlikely urban landmark. Standing at the entrance to one of the city's most popular parks, right beside its largest Catholic university, Rita is a prostitute.

Installed in the park in 2002, over the years, Rita has suffered for reasons more related to her location than her profession. Offering large iron plates on one of the city's primary thoroughfares, this Rita tempts not sexually frustrated males, but passersby in search of self expression, often without the redeeming qualities of artistic ability. Poor Rita has become defaced by graffiti and tagging. Soon, Bogotá plans to clean and renovate Rita.

Besides urban neglect and adolescent misbehavior, Rita's condition could also
A poster on a wall in the Santa Fe neighborhood's
red light district says 'Rejection.'
be interpreted as a representation of abuse against women, always a timely issue in Bogotá. And news of her repairs comes at a time when policies about sex work, which is legal in designated 'tolerance zones,' are once again under discussion in the wake of the sexual abuse of a 3-year-old girl taken from an informal day care center located in Bogotá's Santa Fe tolerance zone.

Whether she is honoring prostitution or warning against it, Rita's renovation won't come cheap: 27 million pesos, or about US $1,000 dollars, according to El Tiempo.

Still, it might be worthwhile, if not for the fact that Rita will get graffitied again soon after.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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