Bogotá is a huge city and huge cities are dangerous. You might, therefore, assume that those of us who live here are striding around with our eyes open – merrily digesting everything that is happening around us.
Erm, nope. At least, not in my case. It turns out I’ve been walking around with my head in the clouds – an uncomfortable discovery I made on the Bogotá Graffiti Tour.
You wouldn’t believe how much art you can skip happily past; how many hours of other people’s creativity you can bypass as you dance from corner to corner (alright, from arepa to hot dog, there’s no need to be so literal).
But seriously, if you haven’t done the city’s walking Graffiti Tour yet you should. It’s excellent. Christian – the Australian lad who runs it – is both an artist and Bogotá resident who knows more than enough about Colombian history and politics.
That means you get more than just: “This guy painted this,” or “That girl painted that,” … you get to think about what it all means – and you will be amazed at how many internationally recognised artists flock here; Bogotá is bigger on the spray paint map than you might think.
Now, thankfully, I see this art – I really see it. Even better, I know something about the people and the ideas behind it.
But I’ve started to worry about that other street art, you know, the kind that’s moulding and rusting away as we speak.
Yes, I’m talking about sculpture and, for that matter, statues. When was the last time you noticed any?
Some wag once said: “Sculpture is the object you bump into when you back up to look at a painting.”
I think that’s tosh – inside and outside. Sculpture, statues, all that non-paint based street art – it’s bloody fantastic and, luckily, Bogotá is full to the brim with it.
I walked a 10-minute square block from my apartment, snapping a few bits and it was ridiculous – if there’s a sculpture on every corner in Rome then Bogotá is racing to catch up.
(It’s mostly ignored. As a test I pointed out the huge Villamizar piece – Espejo de Luna – on the steps of the city’s World Trade Centre to my boyfriend. He walks past it almost every day.
“Is that new?” he said in surprise.
“No,” I sulked. “It’s been there since 1981.”)
So, go on the Bogotá Graffiti Tour but, when you’re all smart and well versed in the art of the spray can, the stencil, even the paint-filled fire extinguisher … just remember the other Bogotá street art and give it a little wave. It might just wave back.