Tags and graffiti on authorized walls. A day of muralists or graffiti artists?

 Tags and graffiti on authorized walls. A day of muralists or graffiti artists?


This is a day where it does not matter... 

It was the end of summer 2016 in Buenos Aires. A few kilometers from the federal capital in the Piñeiro province bordering the river La Matanza a long wall of gray metal surrounded some abandoned factories. On the other side, a somewhat solitary neighborhood, probably because it is Sunday morning.

At the beginning of the street tour called "riverside path" a list of names or nicknames written in black every 5 or 6 meters on the wall as if assigning in order the places of those who are about to arrive, as if someone had defined a space where everyone will leave those marks that many already leave in trains, buildings, hard to reach walls or places where everyone wants to leave their trail.

Approximately at eleven o'clock in the morning some people were arriving slowly, all of them mostly young -women and men-. Some by car, by bike and others walking together after having met at a point agreed in advance.

Each one carrying their own paintings, some asking those who are already there, if they have a bit of black, white or chrome to sell. "ahead is the guy who brought some, he brings them from outside," Bory tells one of the guys who comes to ask. Aerosol cans are investments that they make only for painting, many only buy them to make the strokes, shadows and details; the rest they do with latex paint that turns out to be more economical. "A can of good paint comes to you in more than 100 mangoes", says Guido, "and you pay for it yourself, you do it because it makes you do it; this is graffiti friend¨

Everyone begins to look for nearby places to bring food, coca, fernet or beer; some bring son sandwich from their homes, others go to a nearby place to buy a pizza or choris for all the crew.

Some stop painting to eat, others paint and go eating; everyone at their pace. Nobody paints in a hurry ... they talk, they walk several meters to see what others are doing; they ask for paint, they smoke one and they offer what they have to drink.

The intension of all depends on the style with which they prefer to paint. Some paint only at events, they have been doing it for years but they have other totally different jobs and paint graffiti to have a good time, forget about the week and meet friends. Other younger people commonly do it illegally. Everyone has their own reasons to do it but one of the most common purposes they mention is almost always to leave something of them that will later become part of the city's landscape. Messages that many do not understand or simply ignore but that remains in the mind of everyone who passes by.

While you paint you talk, you are silent, you remember graffiti from the past or areas that you wanted to paint, you smoke, laugh, share and even forget.

"For me, graffiti is a therapy, the truth is, if I do not paint, I'm not well, it's something I need to be calm," says Luis, changing the nozzle of his spray and smiling.

This was the afternoon of legal graffiti that brought together different types of writers, many commonly called vandals by those who find their curtain or wall all scratched or see them painting at night. Among them, those who paint illegal are recognized as vandals and all have more nicknames than names. Many do not know each other personally, but when it comes to this type of event, all of them are handles as they affirm and the idea of ​​painting brings them together no matter what type of painting they do, whether legal or illegal.


And what is the meaning of painting?

¨Graffiti was and is a way of escaping from this society, a form of expression, a way of saying what I feel and of manifesting myself ... my hate, my aggressiveness, my ideas, a little of the creativity that I have, is My life "says Kbeza Kbeson, a young boy who is painting on one of the first walls. He organizes the event and tries to do it at least 3 times a year in different areas of Greater Buenos Aires. He has been painting legally and illegally for 6 years and has managed to gather more than 200 artists in this event.


Those who do not know and should not imagine that it is he who manages the permit in the municipality or in the factories with long sheet metal walls that is searched by google maps before, then publishes the event on social networks and one by one the people write to him they want to attend, it does not matter if they know him or not, he's a graffiti artist and they know his nickname, that's enough to know that it's an organized event where all those who want can attend.

¨The event was born mainly in the point that all the people who are in the culture can participate in an event, in a day all together painting, since in other events only those who have experience can participate. In this participate from those who just start to those who have more than 15 years in the move¨

Today fortunately, those who paint illegal will not have few minutes to make their pieces as they usually do in trains, subways or walls that they choose to paint at night. It is a day to paint with time, friends, wine, music or joints. Something like a sunny day for the graffiti writer


While the afternoon passes some people who drive by stop, honk and observe the amount of paint and people who are there, others who walk cautiously stop, observe and even ask

-che? Who do they ask permission to paint so much?

-I'm glad the kids do this, did you see?

- This area is half baked and this makes the neighborhood look cute.

-But che! Is someone paying for this?

Ask the neighbor who apparently went out to walk his labrador dog

-And no! Nobody pays us for this, we all come because we paint the move, there are some who paint a lot of years ago, there are other newer kids but we are still here.

Affirms one of the boys who is sitting watching his two companions begin to highlight the letters that are painting


There are almost two kilometers of walls that are usually painted by many young people who favor the hip-hop graffiti style, a style that comes from the Bronx-United States, which emerged as a form of protest from the communities of the most marginalized neighborhoods. They focused mainly on making signatures (tags) in trains and public spaces, with the idea of reclaiming territories between themselves and the world in general.

Hip-hop graffiti is quite influenced by the rap music that sounds in some of the assistants' headphones or in the cars, almost all of them are part of a group (crew) in which they manage to mix their aesthetics, most of them crews performs the acronym of his name mixed with elements of realism, a character or geometric pieces. All have their styles and even their references in other parts of the world to paint graffiti.

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Doing this takes an entire afternoon, painting something with time is not like painting a train in the night where you only have 10 or 15 minutes to make your piece, this is a difference that many people already have experience and prefer legal graffiti to take the time to do something planned, a piece that is on the wall not only for the photo of the night moment invaded by fear and adrenaline that no one else will see personally because then it will be erased because it was done in an unauthorized area.

And if it is about authorizations, not everyone asks for it and also for this reason many prefer to keep their identity secret. Approaching to take a picture includes always posing with their graffiti, as proud of what they have done. Some covering their faces, because really in graffiti it does not matter much who you are physically, what matters is how you sign.


The afternoon falls and many who are finishing take pictures of their graffiti with the cell phone because their recognition in the community revolves around social networks, there in an "anonymous" each one publishes their photos of walls or signed trains, with bombs or colored pieces.

While some keep their things, others are walking on the wall watching what others did. There are those who are giving away some leftover paint or making some tags on poles and walls in the area before going home, leaving the trail in curtains of nearby places that are closed Sunday as they walk to look for the collective or the closest train. There are some who are a bit drunk, or those who are always late. "Let's all go together, the area is getting ..." says one of them who, although he has already finished, is waiting for his friend sitting down, who is barely making the shadows of his part of the graffiti.

From there many go out to eat together, others go home because tomorrow is Monday and it's time to continue with the usual work, some in the office, others in workshops, tattoo studios or secondary. The common responsibilities of any young person, including getting the money to buy cans and go to paint at night or another weekend like this, with some friends of the crew or new friends they met at the event.


So many escape from their realities, in the neighborhood, in their jobs, with their mothers or with their problems, so they come together to forget the vandals that can be in the night running so as not to be caught and enjoy painting a good graffiti with everything the possible time.

Everyone is lost in their ways of painting and living graffiti. Bearing in mind that their common goal is to appropriate a space that builds an individual message that will impact the area in some way and this is evident from the moment in which everyone arrives with their paintings, their own aerosol cans and the rest crewmates to leave something of their own in a legal way.

At the end of everything, the important thing is that there will be his signature as in many other places in the big city, where most still leaving their traces with or without authorization.

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