The streets of Buenos Aires are filled with graffiti. The graffiti are often artistic and full of expression or they’re politically motivated like the graffiti in this shot. This is unlike the graffiti I see in the United States, which are usually gang related. There are entire books and even photography tours dedicated to Buenos Aires graffiti. For those in the U.S. it might seem paradoxical for graffiti to be as educated as it is in Argentina: the art or tags often call out the country’s president or express dissatisfaction with political moves and agendas.
I took this photo in San Telmo, the old historic neighborhood of Buenos Aires, where you can find underground antique markets and check out the arts and crafts fair that shuts down more than ten blocks of a main street every Sunday. It says, “Death to the state. Long live anarchy,” and the writing is accompanied by a drummer, much like one of the forty or so drummers you would see leading a group in the streets of San Telmo after the fair. There are several groups of local drummers and members of the community that take part in drumming and dancing as the fair’s vendors start packing up at sundown.
I typically take pictures to capture things as they are – the strange, the beautiful, the ugly, the mundane. While I’m taking a photo I’m usually not thinking about how I can improve the lighting or find artistic expression but rather how to capture the true nature of what I’m shooting. The artistic expression starts to happen when I decide what to share. Not with this photo. This one just begged to be modified, further turned into a comic-like graffiti scene. I thought that the extra saturation and exaggeration would help bring out the emotion that spurs wall tagging like this.