Updated: Jun 28
When we leave Seoul in the next few hours and cross the Atlantic back to Bogota, we will have gone around the world painting murals. It has been thirteen years of insisting and waiting. These were not easy times, much less stable ones: we had disappointments, intermittences and interruptions along the way, but the result could not have been more satisfactory. We have witnessed an immense and surprising world in which the human experience unfolds between beauty and affliction. We learned of the shared humanity (of which the philosopher Isaiah Berlin spoke) as we traveled through twelve countries and saw our own in so many people and existences that we thought were alien. They are not. They never have been.
Six years ago we started knocking on doors to create our murals abroad; assuming that the idea was not yet fully spherical and would take time to be channeled. Every project of this nature has a precise and unique moment that cannot be forced. However, we knew how to be patient and in 2018, thanks to the support of the Colombian Foreign Ministry, we were arriving in Antwerp, Belgium, to paint Mirada Compartida: our first mural in Europe. A grandfather held his grandson's hand and they contemplated together a window that served as the future. That day, when Ambassador Sergio Jaramillo thanked us at the inauguration of the mural, in front of several Belgian authorities, the imagined descended into reality. As in a children's story, the apple fell from the tree, leaving the imprint of an asteroid.
Despite the time that has passed, the afterlife of the project is still intact. Overwhelmed by the deformed representations that the entertainment industry has created about Colombia and Colombians, we decided to offer an alternative story through murals in each place we visited. The idea was not to deny a certain reality but to question its hegemony. To dismantle by contrast the myth of the savage. For this reason, creating relevant and significant images in public spaces in the countries seemed fundamental to us. To question narratives and offer a different and reiterated look (each mural lasts at least three years) of representations that allude to our sharpest dimensions: poetry, music, dance and reverie have been the coordinates of creation that we have repeated over and over again. It is not a mechanics, but rather a methodology that detonates the imagination when the narrative is conceived before the visual. That is our hallmark.
This last opportunity to honor that message of a different Colombia, took us five weeks away from our homes and families. A high price we accepted to pay to start a new beginning in Vertigo Graffiti. The world turned and we were fortunate to accompany him on that journey.
Near Christmas 2019 and while we were walking around São Paulo, happy to have finished painting a 20-story building in the middle of 23 de Mayo Avenue, I had a hunch: nothing would ever be the same again. And we are definitely not the same. What was born thirteen years ago as a company, is today a strategic model of cooperation to offer, from images and stories, necessary conversations in public space. Those places where world citizenships are built while people's disagreements and indifferences coincide. A territory in which the human condition is manifested in its most sublime sense: that moment in which we see mirrors and reflect ourselves in the lives of others.
Soon we will return home. It was time to return. The world is a vast, complex and wonderful place. We no longer have the slightest doubt. We will continue.