After having spoken to you about the immense desert of the Salar de Uyuni, now we want to tell you something completely different. We will dive deep into a city, Cochabamba, which through its colorful streets tells us about Bolivian history and society.
Since 2011 Cochabamba has become a street art international landmark. This started thanks to the creation of the Biennal Street Art festival organized by the cultural centre mARTadero.
The Proyecto mARTadero and the Street Art Biennal
For 14 years the Project has been the centre of a very important social and cultural movement in Chochabamba, in the neighbourhood of Villa Coronilla. With the purpose of changing and improving the urban space, the people involved in the Project took over the old slaughterhouse (3000 m2) and turned it into a self-managed space. Here the arts and culture of the 21th century can express themselves at their best.
The Street Art Biennal organized by the mARTadero centre brings to Cochabamba some of the greatest street artists in the world. Over the years, the city has been enriched with wonderful masterpieces that have given a new life to old buildings and contributed to sensitize the locals about topics like the women rights, the ancestral culture and the respect for Mother Earth.
Street Art Bike Tour
While in Cochabamba, we decided to join the street art bike tour, we simply couldn’t resist. Here is how it went.
The tour starts from the mARTadero centre with a guide who, according to your needs, will do the tour in English, Spanish or Italian.
Our guide was Alex, Italian, who gave us the chance to immerse ourselves for two hours in the history, culture and social dynamics of Cochabamba.
To not spoil this fantastic tour across the colourful streets and alleys of Cochabamba, we will introduce you to only few of the masterpieces that we have seen.
Calle Pachamama (Pachamama Street)
One of the first murals that we came across was dedicated to the Pachamama (Mother Earth). The Andeans’ Mother Earth is represented as a pregnant woman surrounded by symbols of fertility. The author is the MAV collective, from Iquique (Chile).
Todo lo que tuve y lo que fui, sin testamento se lo dejo al viento
This is another mural dedicated to the Pachamama, here represented as an old woman. Martanoemi (from Panama) represented Mother Earth in its Andean concept of space-time. Her wrinkles are mountains, her head of hair mirrors the infinite universe while below there is vegetation. The writing on the mural says Todo lo que tuve y lo que fui, sin testamento se lo dejo al viento (All I’ve had and I’ve been, I leave it the wind with no will). [This mural was not realized during a Street Art Biennal]
Machismo, feminicides and family in Bolivia
This mural by the Peruvian artist El Decertor was realized in 2015. It’s a clear and harsh representation of the condition of many Bolivian families. The Pachamama is here represented with a worried look, she is an aware witness of the tragedy lived by her daughters and sons. Indeed, the house doors and windows are dark and gloomy. The mural is a voice crying out to the entire society. Since the beginning of the year up to today (16th of June 2019) 55 cases of feminicide have already been recorded and Cochabamba is the town where most of them were committed. This goes with alcohol abuse, especially by men, the widespread machismo and all its consequences on the home life and the entire community.
Above the woman there is a man lying down who is maybe dead or ill.
La Paz’s cholita
This mural was realized by Licuado Fitz, an Uruguayan collective of artists. The woman is the engine of everything. She looks tired because of the physical and moral weight that she needs to carry every day, but she hopes and believes in a better life for herself, her family and community (represented by the flowers).
Cochabamba, the town of trees
This mural, realized by the activist movement No A La Tala De Arboles (Bolivia), represents a serious issue affecting Cochabamba and the whole South America. Progress led to a massive tree cutting to make space for asphalt and concrete.
The No A La Tala De Arboles group is one of the most active in town to stop the thoughtless tree cutting and fights for new policies aiming at safeguarding the trees and the citizens’ health.
Tinku, folk dance and political protest
This huge mural is Puriskiri’s (Bolivia). Here there is everything, from the political criticism to the local traditions seen with disenchanted eyes. The two men dancing the Tinku, the traditional Andean fighting dance, wear the colours of the two Bolivian political parties. The scenes depicted on their shirts are the same, they are scenes of an ordinary life representing the people needs. The fighting is stupid: the two parties are against each other although they promise people the same things, they are not collaborating and resolving the population’s problems. On the background, among the audience, there is an unengaged policeman looking at his smartphone.
The Bike Art tour gave us the chance to fully immerse ourselves in the history and culture of Cochabamba and to start looking at the Bolivian culture from a new and very interesting point of view. Cycling across the streets of Cochabamba with our guide allowed us to explore the city with different eyes. What we learned here will stay with us for the rest of our trip across South America.
Here the contacts to join the tour:
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