Whenever I travel to other urban areas of the world I try to explore their graffiti. Graffitti, not tagging, those are two totally different things. I know we get them confused sometimes but, to me, tagging is ego tripping and graffiti is self-expression.
While cruising around Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo I noticed that much of their graffiti seemed much like the graffiti of the late 70’s and 80’s in urban areas of the United States. I’m continually noticing similarities between Brazil and the United States of 20 to 30 years ago, not just in graffiti.
Graffiti as art makes statements both social and political. I found some amazing graffiti in Rio and São Paulo. I’m thinking of putting a slideshow together of just the graffiti artwork that I’ve taken pictures of. Bogota and Cali in Colombia had some really dynamic stuff as well.
I’m often asked how I’ve learned so much, so fast about places I travel and languages. There are two methods of immersion that I use. Before traveling, I read, research, view documentaries and inundate my brain with more than is humanly possible to “outwardly” retain. Secondly, when I get to another country I “hit-the-streets.” You won’t learn anything about the people sitting in your comfortable hotel room watching television.
I wasn’t able to hit the streets in Brazil as much as I would have liked. I had schedules to maintain and performances to prepare for, but the graffiti gave me a gift of sight that I otherwise would not have received.
I can remember when graffiti artists were the scourge of big urban centers in the United States. Now, when I travel, I see whole governments and businesses setting aside funds to patronize these artists by giving them wall spaces they would have had to sneak in and paint in the dark of the night 30 years ago.
I’ve got to get ready to head to another school. Today is my final day in Brazil. I’ve got a 3 day break back in the U.S. and then I head to Mexico.
I’ll try to get back and update as soon as I can.