It’s no secret that graffiti – and its more socially acceptable manifestation of street art – has grown into a global fever. From its outlaw origins in U.S. hip hop culture (shout out to Philly’s own Cornbread), the art form has rapidly become one of the hippest and most sought-after contemporary artistic expressions in the world. But sadly, what began as a gesture of empowerment for marginalized communities eventually took on the same hegemonic dynamics of the traditional art world, with cultural centers in Europe and the United States serving as the gatekeepers for street art glory, despite the wealth of artists spread throughout the developing world.
That is, until 2012, when a group of Peruvian street art enthusiasts decided to reclaim Latin America’s stake in the art world by founding a massive gathering of urban artists called Latir Latino. Featuring a dugout of world-renowned artists from Perú, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia, and Puerto Rico, Latir Latino took over Lima’s Miraflores district for over a week and filled the coastal capital with color and joy, all while bringing attention to local talent from around the region. It was a resounding gesture created in response to the constant need for street artists to be validated in Europe or the United States before receiving recognition in their own countries. And they killed it.
Though most of us weren’t in Lima to catch the historic event, the folks at Pura Vida TV managed to put together a feature documentary called Latir Latino that follows the gathering as it unfolded over seven glorious days in March of that year. The trailer gives a little taste of what went down, with a lot of brotherhood, sweat, and stunning street art painted on a massive scale.
A few interviews give us some context about the importance of this event, with some everyday folks on the street offering some real perspective on the matter. Regarding the basic mission of street art, one woman interviewed on the streets of a seemingly working-class neighborhood summed up everything up rather eloquently: “Drawings are emotion, they give life, life, drawings give life. I love drawings.”