This past weekend there was a festival celebrating Buenos Aires street art. I was in Cordoba up until Monday, so I missed the beginning of the festival. Monday, however, was most likely the best day to attend. I say this because the pieces of street art that they’ve been working on for the past four days were mostly complete. This made for an exhibit of street art that would be hard to equal elsewhere in such a small area.
I got off of the bus in what I knew to be a sketchy part of town. It wasn’t the worst part of Buenos Aires, but I knew from looking at the map before going to Barracas that I’d have to be on my guard. The street was empty, and although I was only about six blocks from my destination, I decided to jump in the first cab that came by instead of walking.
About five minutes later I knew I was where I needed to be. I saw a huge piece of scaffolding with an artist on top plying his trade. In front of him was a gigantic piece of freshly minted Buenos Aires street art. This was going to be good. I could feel it.
I keep walking until I run into a huge mural with about five different artists working on it. I stop and talk with one of the artists who is taking a rest. He’s very open to chat, which was very different from when I ran into some working artists in London. I ask him about the festival, which piece is his, and the city’s stance on street art. He tells me that the city actually provided security and paint for the festival. I don’t think we’ll be seeing that anytime soon in Canada.
I thank him, take a couple pictures of his work, and move on. I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life. Dozens of street artists openly practicing their art – out in the open – with police protection. Very forward thinking for a neighbourhood that would otherwise be an industrial eyesore.
I didn’t know just how large the Buenos Aires street art scene was until I came to the Meeting of Styles. Seeing so many passionate artists proved to me once again that this is more than just an underground, outlaw activity. This was an organized event, complete with a hip hop group playing, a skateboard ramp, and even a hydraulic lift for one huge piece! The art created over the weekend will last for years, and transform an otherwise drab and ugly part of town into a true destination for street art aficionados. I criticize the government here, as do many locals and foreigners, but without a doubt they support the arts very well.
How to Get to Barracas
The address is the cross street of Santa Maria del Buen Aire and Villarino. You could take a cab there, and I could tell you the price, but with 35% annual inflation, it won’t be accurate. The 93 bus drops you off quite close, which you can take from Retiro station. Be careful; for this neighbourhood is on the border with a couple rough parts of town.