domingo, septiembre 20, 2020


Este miércoles, Septiembre, 23, Facebook Live, a las 5PM Colombia, 6PM, New York. Si puedes acompañarnos, bienvenidx y agradeceríamos mucho difusión en redes sociales!

Que disfruten!


sábado, septiembre 05, 2020


In their third edition, the Brooklyn Public Library is featuring the University Open Air, Fall Semester. As the last two editions, I was invited to participate in this one, I will do two lectures Saturday, September 19 at 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM. I am leaving here all the information about the UOA schedule, participants, and lectures plus my two classes on that specific date. 

This is a free event, please, spread the word and join us!

Click in the imagen to access to all the info about these events.

University Open Air Webpage 

First Lecture - Click in the image to go to the registration webpage

The second Lecture - Click in the image to go to the registration webpage

I hope you can participate
Marcelo Arroyave
The last Collective Sursystem member in the pandemic world. 

martes, agosto 11, 2020


In December of 2013, the Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra arrived in Cali, Colombia, with a crazy idea to do a tour through the country, I was present when the band made it and it was a very (crazy)interesting experience. Now, six years after that, Oscar Ruiz Navia bring to us a documentary that was filmed while the band was traveling, playing and living in a country where sometimes the only thing that keeps the people away from the madness is Bailar and Cantar. Enjoy!

By Marcelo Arroyave

Premiere August 14, 2020

Fait Vivir Trailer

FAIT VIVIR is a documentary film made over a period of six years by Colombian filmmaker Oscar Ruiz Navia. This film tells us about the myth and the dreams that feed GKO (Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra), an adventurous, out of the ordinary band, that propels movement and freedom.


sábado, julio 11, 2020

Bogotá: A City that Vibrates with Graffiti

Six years ago, when I came to live in NYC, I wanted to translate an article that I published in a book called Hable Ahora, Calle Para Siempre. I did that article when I was working in the job that was my last job before coming here, but I didn’t translate it because my English at that moment was very poor.  Well, now that my English allows me to translate it, I want to share it with the people that still visit the blog. This article came from my Master degree thesis that I made about the Bogotá Graffiti Movement in the first decade of the new millennium when I was studying Urban Anthropology in Barcelona.                                                                                        Enjoy!

Bogotá: A City that Vibrates with Graffiti

By Marcelo Arroyave


        The city and graffiti have been united throughout the history of the West. Society advances on the waves produced by different types of conflict, both among citizens and between the community and the institutions that represent them. Graffiti, among its many functions,  serves as a way for people to communicate their thoughts, complaints, and dreams across time. Bogotá, a vast city in infinite (re)construction and crossed by abysmal inequalities, contains diverse communities, associations, and collectives that are in constant interaction with each other and with the city government. All of this sets the perfect stage to appreciate the mutation of graffiti between 2000 and 2010.

        Graffiti has been essential in complex social situations, although it has never ceased to exist as an ephemeral, marginal, and anonymous way of communication with contents that have nothing to do with situations of social and political upheaval. Thus, graffiti or intervention in urban public spaces through texts and/or images has accompanied human beings from the beginning of their history and has evolved with them as society has become more convoluted.

A Little History of Origin and the Word Graffiti

         Graffiti, a term that comes from the Italian sgraffio (scratch) or the Italian graffiare (scribble), has existed since the beginning of human history. In the cave of Lascaux (in the valley of the Vezere, near Montignac, in the southwest of France), there are engravings made with stones and bones, although there are also paintings made with colored powders that were blown by hollow bones and that are the predecessors of the stencil. In some cities, such as Pompeii (Italy), a large amount of graffiti has been found as electoral slogans, drawings, and all kinds of obscenities that date back to Roman times.

    As in Europe, where traces of paintings made through stencils were found, in South America there are also examples of this printing technique that originated in prehistory (approximately between 10,000 and 25,000 years ago). The cave paintings of the Las Manos caves in Argentinian Patagonia are among the first records.

    With this brief tour through the oldest history of graffiti and stencil, it is clear that they are brothers by birth, so the first one retains a subversive character and is persecuted whereas the second one has been accepted as mainstream art and has ascended to places of privilege.

    Beyond the prehistoric background, it is worthwhile defining what is graffiti today. This phenomenon has been studied from different academic perspectives. For this reason, there are several definitions that analyze and explain this complex product of communication; one of them speaks of those messages made on walls, toilets, enclosures, vehicles, and other objects of urban circulation (Silva, 1986). In addition, graffiti is a type of well-qualified communication. It does not have a recognized issuer, does not address anybody in particular, and does not grant any guarantee in its preparation or its permanence, not even in terms of its effects. At first sight, graffiti could be understood as a random act full of risk, with a deep uncertainty in its elaboration, and the lack of foresight of its results; these peculiarities constitute practically its fundamental load (Silva, 1986). Another definition speaks of a code or discursive modality in which sender and receiver make a particular dialogue - from their mutual anonymity - in a place where this is not allowed, constructing with different instruments a writing space constituted by pictorial and verbal elements, in osmosis and recurrent amalgam (Gari, 1995).

    According to some authors, contemporary graffiti began in Paris in 1968 and continued with a second wave in New York (NY) in the early seventies, the latter closely linked to the emergence of Hip Hop (De Diego, 2000). Almost at the same time as the use of graffiti and stencil/graffiti in the revolts in Paris in May ‘68, the marginalized black and Latin ethnic minorities of several cities in the U.S. East Coast began to capture on the walls of their ghettos and in the subway cars of the city of NY what years later would be identified as the image of Hip Hop culture. Hip Hop graffiti emerged and in less than 30 years invaded all the big cities of the world thanks to Rap music and BreakDance.

    Validated by music, art, and media - which define the most relevant trends, such as Hip Hop, Parisian (stencil/graffiti) and Mural graffiti culture - the stencil/graffiti and mural are increasingly (re)known and accepted by mainstream institutions that are responsible for public policy around the culture in the different countries where it has developed.

Bogotá and its Relationship with Graffiti

         Graffiti has been present in Colombia, and mainly in Bogotá, since the 70s due to the social and political situation that the country has experienced and especially this city as the capital of the country, for more than half a century; This one in its beginnings (the 70's) has become a means of protest communication that aims to denounce abuses and injustices suffered by groups and communities of diverse ideologies, ethnic groups and socioeconomic status (indigenous, workers, afrodescendants, students, unionists, defenders of human rights...) by the State and its institutions, but it has also served to reclaim popular struggles or minorities that have no space in the mass media.

    The Graffiti of the 70's has mutated through this time until today in its techniques to become what some call street art and its content has adapted to these changes; in the hands of some representatives the messages continue to have content for protest, denunciation, and demands; but in the work of others, there are also personal, intimate characteristics that sometimes border on irony, and show influences drawn from the mass media and other forms of artistic expression such as comics, movies and posters.

    In itself, what can be seen in the city of Bogotá since 2002 approximately, is that there is a collective action, but also individual, which has been increasing over the years in members, who have adopted Graffiti or " street art” as a form of expression, that is, there is a boom that floods the streets with graffiti, tags and murals of various kinds, which has also generated events that are usually organized by the same members of this boom or by institutions of a public or private nature, such as the mayor's office of the city, art galleries and/or universities.       

    When walking or moving in a vehicle through the streets of the city you can see from the political and "popular" graffiti, that corresponds to a message that comes from marginality, anonymity, and spontaneity (Silva, 1996; De Diego, 2000) to the various types contained in the street art, which has the characteristics of planning, signature -sometimes under a pseudonym- and visibility, since it is done in places that are chosen in advance, very visible within the city. In this way there is a common thread between political graffiti, "popular", Hip Hop and stencil/graffiti: they are a set of activities and techniques that are carried out, initially, on the street or in public space. But also several peculiarities: Hip Hop graffiti is preponderant throughout the city; many of the most recognized graffiti artists perform mural combining stencil/graffiti with the raised hand and claim and expose, without aligning themselves with political ideologies, many current demands and problems within society; all this individual and collective work, constant and disciplined, in continuous technical evolution, has made Bogotá position both inside and outside of Colombia, as a benchmark for graffiti and street art.

    Although the colors and shapes that are seen in the streets thanks to this artistic expression make citizens vibrate and away from the collective imagination the gray image that sometimes you have of the city, you should not forget -if at some point you decide to tell the story of Graffiti in Bogotá- it is thanks to the heritage and influence of political and "popular" graffiti that the new graffiti representatives who now work under the street art label and who use different techniques to print on the walls his messages, which are sometimes political and sometimes are only aesthetic.

domingo, mayo 31, 2020


Just one week before the lockdown in NYC (03/07/20) I made the final session of the Sursystyem 3'R workshop at University Open Air; it was really fun and very creative, the participants finished their interior pages and build their own magazine SSyS 3'R where they included those pages. 

We didn't decorate the cover and the back cover of the magazine that each participant made, due to a lack of time in the workshop, but we spent quality time learning different things about making pages for the magazine and about how to make the magazine with our own hands (DIY), we shared a lot of ideas and were able to know each other. It was a very nice experience just right BP (Before the Pandemic). It is a good memory from the past time to keep in my mind in this difficult moment. 

I want to show to the blog visitors the pictures from the workshop and their outcome; I don't show here pictures of my magazine exterior because I didn't decorate yet it and I don't know if the other participants did. 

The UOP Workshop participants

The UOP Workshop participants

Interior page from one of the workshop participant

Interior page from one of the workshop participant

Interior page from one of the workshop participant

The next pictures are from inside my magazine SSyS 3'R that I made in the workshop with the participant pages included in the content, plus the content page that was made in a typewriter machine. 
Many thanks to Gary Hardcastle for facilitating the typewriter machine to the workshop

Marcelo Arroyave
Transmitting from the worst place to be in the middle of a pandemic, NYC.