Stencils are probably my favourite form of graffiti just because they’re usually thoughtful and have underlying or evident social/political connotations. Where the graffiti is painted can also play an extremely important role in how they should be understood…
Córdoba has an extremely turbulent history full of social/political movements. The large student population (the largest in the country and one of the largest in Latin America; UNC, one of the local universities will be celebrating its 400th year in 2013 although the celebration kick-off concert was last Sunday! It is either the second/fourth oldest university in South America-I have seen it both ways in travel guides and websites-but definitely the oldest in Argentina.) also lends a distinct flavour to the revolutionary spirit and the need for liberal change. “Nunca más”, a stencil that is usually accompanied by a “heading” like the two in the picture above means “never again” in Spanish and is the name of the report published in 1984 in Argentina about “los Desaparecidos”, or the “disappeared” people that were murdered by the government during la Guerra Sucia or the Dirty War. I am a bit rusty on Argentine history even though I read short introductions in guidebooks on the subject. The play “Antígona Furiosa” by Argentine Griselda Gambaro is an excellent read on the the topic (terribly difficult for me to understand the first time due to my Spanish, but a fantastic read nevertheless). The museum of memories (museo de la memoria) which is dedicated to the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (las madres de la plaza del mayo) is definitely one of my must-see stops before I leave for home in about 1.5 weeks!
I have no idea what it says on the wheatpaste because the picture quality isn’t good enough for me to read it and I didn’t care much about it at the time…I hope I’m not pulling things out of my butt but from what I have gathered/experienced/seen, it is not uncommon to see graffiti on churches/historic monuments, and many of these have a distinct socio-political edge to them. People here are definitely a lot more religious than they are in Canada; while passing by some churches on el colectivo (the transit), I always see at least one person (usually an older woman) who would cross themselves (I’ve also observed one teenage boy do it), but at the same time there is and perhaps always will be a fraction of the population who is displeased about political role of religion and its control on the population (I was actually there when my host mom’s son had an intellectual debate about it with my host mom! Wow, my Spanish is going places that I understood the gist of what they were saying…). This is particularly reflected in graffiti like the above and also issues on abortion (which is currently being debated in Congress).
I told the person I was with at the time when I took the picture that I took it because it was “cute” (since they thought I was crazy for taking pictures of random graffiti…). I hope I’m reading this correctly but this is a family of two women as parents and two kids (you can tell by the skirts). I am absolutely in love with this and what it means socio-politically. Unless you were looking closely, it might be likely that you won’t even realize this, and take it for a traditional nuclear family instead.
More pictures of graffiti to come when I take them!