Street art and protest under pandemic conditions in Colombia: A visual semiotic approach


Abstract

This article engages in a visual critical semiotic analysis of Medellín street art and its interpretation as political action in the Colombian social mobilisation of 2021. I explore three epistemological turns towards a descriptive and contrastive methodology to contextualize street art and its transformative potential. Firstly, the spatial turn leads us to understand how space and street art function as a framework of life and conflict that challenges viewers socially and politically. Secondly, following Peirceʼs ideas, I reinterpreted some images. I explain how they function as theoretical objects related to indices, signs and symbols. According to Mitchell's image turn, the image functions as a significant semantic unit. Thirdly, I read the political turn based on Rancièreʼs works in which he equates the political and the aesthetic as an act of visibility, always existing together at a conceptual and substantive level, and with which emancipation is objective. The article does not try to argue whether street art has a transformative power as this has been widely discussed in the literature. The article looks at street art that appeared in the context of the social mobilisation of 2021-2022, and partially in the context of the recent pandemic as a social transformation, the fact of which was proven by the recent elections.


Keywords

aesthetic learning, dissensus, social mobilisation, social transformation, spatial aesthetics

Agamben, G. 2020. L’invenzione di un’epidemia. Quodlibet. https://www.quodlibet.it/giorgio-agamben-l-invenzione-di-un-epidemia.

Amnesty International. 2021. Colombia, 1 July, www.amnesty.org/en/location/americas/southamerica/colombia/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4v4juTa9wIVgYnICh3H9QRxEAAYASAAEgK0afD_BwE.

Andrzejewski, A. 2017. Authenticity Manifested: Street Art and Artification. Rivista di Estetica 64: 167-184.

Arendt, H. 2007. Responsabilidad colectiva. Barcelona: Paidós.

Bacharach, S. 2015. Street art and consent. British Journal of Aesthetics 55: 481-495.

Bacharach, S. 2018. Finding your voice in the streets: Street art and epistemic injustice. Monist 101: 31-43.

Baldini, A. L. 2022. What is street art? Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics LIX/XV, no. 1: 1-21.

Bartolomeus, L. 2012. Street art in Indonesian social and political life. Guggenheim Blogs (blog), 17 October, www.blogs.guggenheim.org/map/street-art-inindonesian-social-and-political-life.

Bourdieu, P. 1997. Razones prácticas. Sobre la teoría de la acción. Barcelona: Anagrama.

CIDOB, Barcelona Center for International Affairs. 2022. Conflicto en Colombia: antecedentes históricos y actores, 1 January, www.cidob.org/en/publications/documentation/dossiers/dossier_proceso_de_paz_en_colombia/dossier_proceso_de_paz_en_colombia/conflicto_en_colombia_antecedentes_historicos_y_actores.

CTJ, International Center for Transitional Justice. 2021. An overview of the conflict in Colombia, 10 September, www.ictj.org/sites/default/files/ICTJ-Colombia-Conflict-Facts-2009-English.pdf.

De Certeau, M. 1998. Culture in the Plural, transl. T. Conley. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

De Rosa, A. S. 2012. Social Representations in the Social Arena. London: Routledge.

Dickinson, E. 2021. CRISISGROUP. www.crisisgroup.org/latin-america-caribbean/andes/colombia/090-pandemic-strikes-responding-colombias-mass-protests.

Didi-Huberman, G. 2014. Como abrir los ojos. In: Farocki, H. (ed.) Desconfiar de las imágenes, 13-14, Buenos Aires: Caja Negra.

Eco, U. 1976. Tratado de semiótica general, transl. C. Manzano. Madrid: Lumen.

Eco, U. 1992. Obra abierta. Buenos Aires: Editorial Planeta.

Foucault, M. 1990. The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction. New York: Vintage.

Fuentes-Navarro, R. 2008. La comunicación desde una perspectiva sociocultural: acercamientos y provocaciones 1997-2007 (“La comunicación desde una perspectiva sociocultural ...”), Guadalajara: ITESO.

Gaitán, G. 2002. Orígenes de la violencia de los años 40. In: Once ensayos sobre la violencia. Bogotá: CEREC/Centro Gaitán. www.ongscolombianas.net/gaitanismo.origenes.htm.

Giraldo, J. F. 2021. Colombia in armed conflict? 1946-1985. Papel Político 18, December, Bpgotá, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, 43-78.

Goodman, N. 1981. Languages of Art. Brighton: Harvest Press.

Harvey, D. 2013. Ciudades rebeldes: Del derecho de la ciudad a la revolución urbana. Madrid: Ediciones Akal.

Kotsko, A. 2020. Giorgio Agamben: ‘Clarifications.’ An Und Für Sich (blog). March 17. www.itself.blog/2020/03/17/giorgio-agamben-clarifications/.

Martín-Barbero, J. 2002. Oficio del cartógrafo. Travesías latinoamericanas de la comunicación en la cultura. Santiago de Chile: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

Mervosh, S., S. Romero & L. Tompkins. 2020. Reconsidering the Past, One Statue at a Time, The New York Times, June 16, www.nytimes.com/2020/06/16/us/protests-statues-reckoning.html.

Mitchell, W. J. T. 2012. Teoría de la imagen. Ensayos sobre la representación verbal y visual. Madrid: Akal.

Pedragosa, P. 2014. Decir el lugar: Topología. In: M. Llorente (ed.), Topología del espacio urbano, 33-55, Madrid: Historia del arte y de la arquitectura. Quoted in Pau, 2014:15.

Peirce, C. 1988. La fijación de la creencia, transl. José Vericat. Navarra: Universidad de Navarra. www.unav.es/gep/FixationBelief.html.

Peirce, C. 1873. Collected Papers. Logic. Chapter 5. Indiana University School of Liberal Arts.

Peirce, C. 1996. La ciencia de la semiótica. Buenos Aires: Nueva Visión.

Platón. 1988. Las leyes. Ed. José Manuel Ramos Bolaños. Madrid: Akal.

Rancière, J. 2003. El destino de las imágenes. Paris: La Fabrique.

Rancière, J. 2006. El odio a la democracia, transl. I. Agoff. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu.

Rancière, J. 2008. El espectador emancipado. Buenos Aires: La Fabrique.

Rancière, J. 2012. El método de la igualdad. Conversaciones con Laurent Jean Pierre y Dork Zabuyan. Buenos Aires: Bayard.

Temblores. 2021. Informe final. www.temblores.org/_files/ugd/7bbd97_10674d3f5b324b6abe45fad8b1083b7b.pdf.

Tunali, T. & G. Erdi. 2019. Art and the city: Urban space, art, and social movements. LE STUDIUM Multidisciplinary Journal 3, 25-30.

Download

Published : 2022-10-01


Blandón Gómez, H. (2022) “Street art and protest under pandemic conditions in Colombia: A visual semiotic approach ”, Crossroads. A Journal of English Studies, (37). doi: 10.15290/CR.2022.37.2.05.

Hernando Blandón Gómez  hernando.blandon@upb.edu.co
The Pontifical Bolivarian University, Medellín  Colombia
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5291-1007

Hernando Blandón Gómez is a graphic designer who obtained his MA degree in Colombian literature in 2003 and his Doctoral degree with distinction in 2019, in the field of Philosophy at the Pontificial Bolivarian University, Medellin, Colombia. His research focuses on the study of the image and the meanings of spatial semiotic and political relations. Other academic interests include the study of semiotic perception in art and graphic design.