Genuinely creative (Muros) wall slogans in Latin America
And what do we have here? Too many photos: too many arresting thought provoking polemics to digest sprayed canned in Spanish on walls only to end up on some obscure web in a faraway UK. Yes true but what do these drifts in perception suggest? That there’s a possible supersession in the offing world-wide of an increasingly grim, tortured reality inseparable from a capitalism having lost all raison d’être or, more realistically, could be the beginning of something that might begin to get us out of this hell?
Essentially, the vast majority of these recent, or fairly recent slogans hail from countries in Latin America with say, one or two exceptions (one for certain sprayed on a wall in Murcia, Spain), etc… We got hold of them via certain somewhat spiritually amorous friendships with clued-in somewhat anarchistically oriented, often off-the-wall (pun intended) southern European feminist inclined women living well clear of traditional dead-end relationships yet still looking (as if having thrown themselves into some quest) for a sensitive heart-felt rejuvenated Eros…. and all quite contrary to the hip neo-puritanism that has descended on Anglo-America where it’s impossible to utter a sentence without provoking an avalanche of identarian crucifixions that are nothing more than “cry-bullying” camouflage, or an excuse for real critique.
Yes, Latin America of all places, maybe with the exception of China or South East Asian in general, when what we are reminded of here in sheer creative – dare we say - literary eloquence, is the uprising of May 1968 in France. Unfettered truth / Unfettered freedom / the end of money and exploitation / the self-abolition of the proletariat, etc. (Shit, first of all, we shouldn’t have described eloquence as ‘literary’ as it sends out the wrong signal, and apologies are in order for such a lapse).
Obviously these slogans have been thoughtfully selected from probably a vast number from an even vaster continent and it’s not as though they appear on every other wall from La Paz, Caracas, Mexico City, to Buenos Aires, Quito, Cordoba and so on. And for sure there is still plenty of fading fast of what was called the Pink Tide re polemics glorifying Che, Fidel, Allende, Chavez or social democratic leftist coalitions like the Sandinistas to more far distant throw backs like the organised guerrilla insurgency of the Tupamaros, etc. For sure (yet again) there seem to be bridges such as reasonably perceptive quotes from Communist party literary martyrs like the Surrealist influenced Pablo Neruda who was probably killed by lethal injection in a Santiago hospital immediately after General Pinochet’s fascist coup in Chile in 1973. One such Neruda quote on a wall says, “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming”….. Not bad but doesn’t cut to the chase like the great anons who banged it on the wall – and not in a book - as illustrated here.
However, The Pink Tide has been in great crises for the last 10 years or so and since then there’s been an up-and-down resurgence of the right though so far nothing remotely like the brutal militaristic regimes (the colonels, etc) of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and many more roughly during the latter half to a quarter of the 20th century. That’s not to say that what’s taken over isn’t real bad stuff; a brutally exploitative, neo-liberal war of one against all epitomised in gang/drug violence, etc, and has created sufficient of a right wing camouflage for a super rich elite to thrive. Yet there is a possible future practical negation within this turmoil as evident in these muros slogans; these often inspiring truths which may begin to capture the imagination of a worldwide proletariat - now bizarrely misshaped – and truly suggestive that there may be a completion of those Freudian “oceanic feelings” preceding total social revolution which was sublimely to the fore in the late 1960s. What’s also still good about these wall slogans is that they have nothing in common with the influence of the shock-jock, nasty incendiary cajoling of Fox News in North America whereby all dissent is purged and which has influenced “the trigger warnings”/ “call out culture”, re a corrupted Thanatos (minus the Eros) inclined Freudian id, endlessly communicated through memes on web blow-outs such as 2Chan, 4Chan, 8Chan, etc., which are going nowhere fast.
Indeed some of the wall slogans in Latin America are slight deviations (some might say improvements) from remarkable moments of the late 1960s/early 1970s and one, at least is from King Mob in Notting Hill, England. Also, no one can doubt that many good slogans were – and still are - sprayed up on the walls of Spain (anarchic slogans from Catalunya) and Portugal. We suspect that there are other ‘transcendental’ comments on Brazilian walls and maybe could adorn a future Flauta de Luz magazine. Historically in any case there was a growing influence from Spain to Latin America and didn’t more than a few excellent pamphlets appear in Spain on some of the outstanding moments of relatively recent struggle in Latin America. We need only mention Luis Andrea Bredlow’s pamphlets from around the millennia on Bolivia, i.e. Water Wars or Social War and Bolivia: Between the Assembly Revolution and the Capitalist Utopia. Widening influences further, Luis who recently died of cancer aged 59, began his subversive quest with the founding edition in Barcelona in 1984 of the magazine Etcetera participating in the translations and discussions in Spain around our long forgotten pamphlet Like a Summer with a Thousand Julys….. and if any of us delve further we will find many other such underground connections even though covered in dust and detritus as the alienated time of production remorselessly carries on .
Yet we can get a wrong picture (apt words) re graffiti in Latin America through these images. It’s as if the Anglo/American ‘street’ obsession with tags and pieces doesn’t exist. Alas, it does and big time like something that cannot morph or supersede itself; that appalling world-wide standalone of the me, me /selfie-centered epoch; a hit-the-streets style of end-of-art, art that hasn’t moved on from its inception on the side of New York’s subway trains some 47 years ago. From the get-go it has been unutterably boring; an ultra decorative, mildly delinquent banal imitation of high art that hasn’t much to do with “creativity made by all” (“creativity” put in italics – and essentially improving on Lautreamont’s “poetry made by all”) stuck in a lacunae of half measures without any supersession in sight, more passage back over to bankrupt artistic specialisms. Yeah man, bravely hit the street in order to procure a traditional gallery owner contract creating paired down canvases with a big price tag attached….. So it’s long live the frozen, dead world of the petrified artistic productions of painting/ sculpture/ poetry/novels/musical pieces/theatre, etc, done so often by penniless, insecure participants longing for celebrity bankrolling , the only hope in this excuse for a life where we all consume ourselves as the ecological / social Abyss looms ever larger on the horizon.
Not that inspirational writing on the wall is as clean as a whistle. Far from it. You may well ask what became in the UK of a potential praxis that might really have gone somewhere. Apart from the occasional, virtually hidden away in corners, out of sight lucid comment, the ‘praxis’ disappeared or rather re-appeared but in an unrecognisable context. It was recuperated by the worst aspect of the property obsessed neo-liberal agenda as wall board advertisements deploying thoughtful axioms took over, cleanly hiding the muck and dust of construction works from sight, a technique promulgated by ‘socialist’ Sir Richard Rogers in the building of No 1 Hyde Park in London, the UK’s most exclusive residence for the world’s super rich. Inevitably such a vanity project was imitated everywhere no more so than by the Labour party as 1950s Brutalist high rise, rented council housing projects for ‘the working class’ were demolished replaced with so-called regeneration schemes. In essence they were gentrifying schemes made up of aspirant, pricey dwellings together with a smaller proportion for social rented accommodation. However, whether rented or sold, all were decorated with the relics of subversion even renamed “quarters” derived from Ivan Chtcheglov’s subversive psychogeographical re-designation of urban space in the early days of the Situationist International. Each though have their own individual nuances, what Norma Buddle has called “Creative Rachmanisn” after the name of the infamous brutal slum landlord from 1950s Notting Hill. Thus “The Kilburn Quarter” alongside Kilburn Park Road, west London during reconstruction a few years ago had elegantly displayed on its high, fenced-in walls quotes from Toni Negri’s Multitudes; Negri the professorial Autonomia ideologist of Italy’s often brilliant days of social uprisings in the 1970s! But then the subversive slogan morphed further hitting TV promo as Andre Breton’s sublime “Beauty will be convulsive or not be at all” was blazoned across every I phone screen advertising the UEFA 2016 Euro football tournament for English speaking audiences, when the only bit of convulsive consolation we took on board was raucous laughter as England was kicked out by Iceland before the real competitive shit got underway.
Perhaps too knowing graffiti (in Rimbaud’s sense of “knowing” implying something far more absolute and axiomatic) has had its day, an ambience implying a truly living, breathing street of human encounter which the hideous, totalitarian post modern reconstruction of physical space has taken away from us. What we now have is a space which is all about design, art and aesthetics and the perfect mirror of fictive capital’s financial wheeler dealing as horrific vanity monuments of glass and sculpted stainless steel sub-architecture appear everywhere before us meaning the un-algorithmic, un-steady human hand of deeply felt emotional expression of genuine thought provoking graffiti has no place here. This space is for the human being becoming robotic whereby the only action is the 24/7 art performance of buying and selling. No deviation from this supreme exchange gesture is to be allowed. Remember too, “Beauty will be convulsive or not be at all” was the last sentence of Breton’s 1928 perambulating soliloquy Nadja, the story of the remarkable woman he met through a chance street encounter. The designer despotic streets of today mean there must never again be the remote possibility of such encounter or the graffiti that goes with such possibilities of emancipation. Emptiness must reign, not only of people but nature too. Death to rats / Death to weeds / Death to insects. This final victory of the visual sense above all other senses could also be the prelude to its demise suggesting there are enough individuals moving around this non-human space who want to see the end of all hoardings and advertisements littered with pronouncements that they TRULY never want to see another even if for once, it’s a subversive slogan.
As anybody who has sprayed up wall graffiti – not tags - will tell you most arresting statements (with the emphasis on arrest) are prepared, even written out beforehand in a tooing and froing between participants. So it’s hardly a spontaneous moment even though inspired improvisation plays a major part. Indeed one of the muros illustrated here – a statement proclaiming a new love that basically has no sensuous, palpable existence – is in typewritten form before the enquiring thoughts are spray-canned on a wall….. or did it ever happen? One final word: What’s important always to remember is that genuine graffiti is not a form of professional role-playing unlike the tags and pieces of rock-bottom neo-artists but is merely one expressive form in a hive of subversive on-going rejuvenated life-enhancing activity aimed at overthrowing commodity production, work, money, wage labour and the state.
From what we know of the guy who collects these statements and puts them together on Facebook pages in neo scrap book style, he is perhaps an elderly ex-Fidelista honing in the terrain of everyday life and its revolutionary transcendence. Have some been tampered with and are some photo shopped? Well, most likely but what can we expect in our stricken, Internet mad age, though here at least, internet second life collides with the becoming of a concrete revolutionary utopia (as one muros condemning the Internet at least suggests) as each lonely, separated, 6 billion plus, homo sapiens at the sharp end (a generous over-estimate?) may hopefully become transformed in amazing ways. We wish, we wish, we wish ……
$1 We aren't guerrillas - but soon will be What's beautiful is not how we see ourselves but
this fire we have in our heads
$1 Are you a normal citizen? Or are you still thinking? Happy consumerism and prosperous new debts
If nature was a bank it would already have been saved Is there life before death?
(Poetic Action, Ecuador) (From King Mob –TRUE)
Money is very violent: It robs, kills and walks free We are the burning anger of a dying planet
The world is going to pot because there are few I see humans but no humanity
rebels and too many arse lickers
There are loves that last forever, All you need is Love. Is class consciousness Although there is no kissing,
Although there is no touching,
Although they don't see each other"
Don't need any explanation!!!!!!!
In a world of capitalist caterpillars you need That awkward moment when you have to explain to Galileo courage to be a butterfly that the world does not revolve around the sun, but money
Capitalism hates love Be Realistic and do the impossible
Capitalism is the most respected genocide in the world Get off you arse and fight
Have you been a good robot today? I think.....therefore they don't allow me to exist
I was human before the Internet If we are all humans why do they divide us with national frontiers?
Life is shit, and then you die Make love not overtime
MAMA taught me to STRUGGLE Me and you fighting together... think about it!!
Social inequality is more violent than any protest Switch off the tele and become intelligent again
The world chanmges with your example not your opinion They prefer you drugged than organised
When a worker and a bourgeois vote for the same party Whilst there is misery there will be rebellion
one of them is wrong and it ain't the bourgeois
You are so poor all you have is money You aren't the only one who is fed up
Your life is shit, mine also Insecurity is not knowing if there is anything to eat
THE MEME LIVES.....STRUGGLE FOLLOWS If you mature a lot you will rot
We have to keep fighting Your superiority complex is the result of not being anyone
To be neoliberal and say you want the public good.... To be like everyone is to be nobody
is is like saying: I swear by almighty god I'm an atheist
What is the use of lots of money in your pockets if I don't believe in socialist ministers that wear a rolex. I don't
there is poverty in your head? believe in artists that drive a hummer. I believe in my people
who are daily fucked over
Who does not fight for what they want do not Who steal from us is here and RICH, not an immigrant and POOR
deserve what they desire
They are born to study... They study to get a job... They work Don't lynch thieves, just stop voting for them
to die... they were dead from the start!
DEATH TO CAPITALISM
Love, Happiness and Cold Beer! You do not need the shit you buy, you need the time they
rob you of
Go to next Muros web: Recent creative Wall MUROS in Latin America (Part 2)