Chilean Street Art Hits The Books

IN SOME CITIES YOU HAVE TO GO TO A MUSEUM TO SEE ART, HOWEVER SANTIAGO IS NOT THE CASE. FROM THE MURALS TO THE STREET PERFORMERS, CHILE’S CAPITAL IS ONE BIG MESMERIZING MASTERPIECE.DAVID SHARABANI HAS BEEN WORKING WITH 100 CHILEAN STREET ARTISTS TO CAPTURE IT.

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SANTIAGO — “Santiago, with its deeply evolved and extremely active underground graffiti scene, bursts at the seams with an abundance of eye-popping, jaw dropping murals,” Sharabani (better known as Lord K2)’s website calls it.

Lord has also worked in street art. He soon found himself drawn to a challenge and the idea of documenting it all in a book called “Street Art Santiago.”

Lord said, “I was then inspired to produce a book on Santiago Street Art, because I was highly impressed with what was going on in the city, and (I) wanted to document it in a book format.” Most of the work around the city is highly influenced by muralists that originated from Mexico. The art focuses on conveying the message of political injustice.

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Chile has a dark political history. While President Allende was in power Chile’s economy was suffering, consequently, the country was split between those who supported president Allende, and everyone else.

After that, Chile fell under a military dictatorship run by General Augusto Pinochet. As a result, the country suffered numerous human rights violations, including imprisonments, tortures, disappearances, and deaths.

The murals not only mirror the suffering from those imes, but the hardships of today as well. “A lot of the works are born out of the oppressive Pinochet regime and also due to political injustice since that regime. The country has a big gap between the rich and the poor, making it difficult for most people to even afford an education. However, the country’s youth is not afraid to speak out against it in forms of protest and art. I think it’s an important outlet for artists to express themselves.”

Although there has been so much corruption in the country, Lord believes that the art remains untainted by corruption.

“I think that the lack of financial incentive sets Chile apart from other countries, there are so many ‘pure’ artists doing art for the sake of art with no hope of making money. I think that the lack of commercial interest frees the local artists to express what they want for expression’s sake,” Lord said.

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Despite popular belief, street art and graffiti are not the same thing. Graffiti refers to tagging rather that art, and illustrators like Lord do not condone it.

Street art sends a positive message by inspiring people to create their own art, as well as provoking thought on social issues. On the other hand Lord believes that tags are not even aesthetically pleasing.

Lord’s documentary journalism embodies 14 different neighborhoods around the city. There are more than 200 images in the book accompanied by interviews as well. Although Lord does not like to play favorites he recommends Barrio San Miguel, which is home to open air markets covered in large murals.

However, Lord does not believe that picking up the book can capture the work’s large scale and textures. It is encouraged that expats come take a look at the work themselves.

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