Commentary

Graffiti Brings Color and Debate to Cusco’s Walls

An Andean Man Playing his Pututo with Magic (Walter Coraza Morveli)

An Andean Man Playing his Pututo with Magic (Walter Coraza Morveli)

In terms of graffiti, urban culture continues to grow day by day in Cusco. Young people between 15 and 27 years old, from all social classes, make their opinions known through words, images, and colors that shine from the city’s walls.

Our ancestors already knew graffiti. They left us memories engraved in stone. In some of our archeological centers you can see engraved in stone the Andean trilogy, a serpent, a puma, and a condor, or you can also see essential symbols such as the stars and the pachamama. This fascinating art is our heritage from our ancestors, although many now confuse it with vandalism.

A Graffiti before to Be End at Tandapata Street (Hebert Huamani Jara)
A Graffiti before to Be End at Tandapata Street (Hebert Huamani Jara)

In Cusco’s traditional neighborhoods graffiti shows strongly in hidden places, small streets, abandoned houses with cracking paint, on bridges and in places where color is lacking. In them you find constant expression that changes in every moment it seems.

For graffiti artists it is a form of expression with color and art as a means of thinking. They portray their visions of the world and their way of life. They also reflect their mood by combining colors with pictures or phrases of love or reflections on politics and social life.

A Andean Papacho, at San Blas (Hebert Huamani Jara)
A Andean Papacho, at San Blas (Hebert Huamani Jara)

Throughout the monumental core of the city the walls are clean since many visitors from other countries go through there. In order to give a good impression, our authorities oblige people to repaint the city’s walls and big houses. If one wants to look at the graffiti of Cusco you must leave the monumental core and go to the rural zones or walk down the slopes of the valley of Cusco.

There are people who mistake graffiti with delinquency due to the simple passion of supporting a football team or the name of a group of friends. Whether they are manifestations of delinquency or not, these artists express their way of thinking and leave it to others to figure it all out and make sense. I, personally, do not think art should be a problem for us but should be a pleasure.

I think that to be a good graffiti artist you must be consistent in where you paint and what you paint. You should not paint not he Inca walls, as at one time or another groups of foreigners have. Nor should you paint over traffic signs or information signs.

Graffiti, a Collage of the Culture of Peru (Hebert Huamani Jara)
Graffiti, a Collage of the Culture of Peru (Hebert Huamani Jara)

There are graffiti artists who dedicate themselves to doing quality work. That is art. Just tagging with names or who you love, dates, or some other scribbling is horrible and looks bad.

While walking down our streets, every day, I find different pieces of graffiti. Some raise awareness in the face of the injustice we live, advance points of view and say what many people would rather keep quiet.

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