Chile’s Protest Graffiti

Posted: 5th March 2020
The walls of the streets of downtown Santiago are covered with stickers, art, words and posters.

Messages vary from “All Cops Are Bastards” to stencils depicting authorties abusive nature to protesters.

The protests were originally triggered by a rise in the metro fare in the capital, Santiago.

However, the protests soon developed into a wider movement focusing on topics such as inequality, healthcare costs and poor education systems.

Much of the anger is aimed at the Chilean President, Sebastián Piñera.

Local graffiti artist Oscar Nunez, who goes by the alias of Mr. Owl, has been at the forefront of the protests since they first started.

Mr. Owl says that street art offers a non-violent way of creating a dialogue between him and others.

“I started using the image of a military officer in a peaceful yoga pose. It’s ironic and fresh but my favourite part is that other graffiti artists have put their own touches to that image,” he says.

He explains that people would paint the eyes red in a reference to the hundreds of protesters who have been blinded by projectiles shot by police.

Although the government is not fond on the graffiti across Santiago, street art has been commonplace since the 1970’s.

Alejandro Conteras, 33, is a protester and photographer whose large prints adorn the facade of the Gabriela Mistral cultural centre in Santiago.

The artwork has often covered subjects that “the press won’t talk about”, Conteras argues.

With the protests far from abating, Santiago’s street art and its merits are likely to divide Chileans for a while to come.

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