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New Spirits in an Old Distillery : Colombia Diary. Day 1

New Spirits in an Old Distillery : Colombia Diary. Day 1

This week BSA is in an unusual location in Colombia by invitation to see a new initiative with Street Artists in an abandoned distillery now being brought back to life with their imaginations and penchant for transformation. Come along with us for a few days to see what we discover.

The fantasies of graffiti writers and Street Artists are myriad but a few rise to the top; the abandoned factory is like a fever dream for a certain passionate class of urban explorers who crawl through holes in fences and slide through broken windows just to discover what lies inside these neglected hulks of industry – and to leave their mark.

Stinkfish. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“So when I began painting in Colombia and mainly in Bogotá I would take a photograph of someone in Bogotá and paint it. When I started to travel and I began to take people from one place to another so for example I took people from Colombia to Mexico. I took a lot of photographs in Mexico and took those images with me to Europe. I enjoyed bringing Mexican and Colombian people to Europe. So of course when I was in Europe I took pictures of this girl who was in the subway in Paris – and I brought her back to Colombia,” says Stinkfish.

In the imagination of many aerosol-armed archaeologists is a vision full of heavy pipes, deep coal ovens, chicken-wired windows, soaring steel silos and rusted rotund tanks, puffy clouds of steam wafting about, electrical boxes with color-coded diagrams, and an endless array of iron walkways and ladders that criss-cross at tight angles and climb higher toward the promising future of the Industrial Revolution.

Imagine what it would be like to have one of these places all to yourself and your friends and instead of fearing the security guard, he is there to protect you.

M-City. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This is precisely the project we have walked into – thanks to an invitation from Polish Street Artist and professor M-City, who has convened with Dictador Art Masters Foundation to invite an intimately eclectic mix of European and South American Street Artists to create new pieces inside the hidden compound nestled in leafy palm oil plantations and more than an hour from the nearest city.

M.City. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Closed for decades, the former distillery still contains all its necessary armature of equipment and its ovens and tanks and charcoal barrels – along with tall grasses, a murky stream, many centipedes, some blue spotted wood lizards, black iguanas, and the occasional leopard Gecko.

BSA is here in Colombia for the next few days with M-City, D*Face, Stinkfish, Toxicomano, Ben Eine, and Monstfur along with some other special guests. Today we’ll just show you the work of the “advance crew” of M-City and the Colombian Street Artists Stinkfish and Toxicomano who checked out the place a few months ago and tested walls with some work examples just to see if it would be as divertido as they thought it would be to explore the old factory.

It is.

M-City. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“This was just for fun it’s sort of an abandoned submarine which I also did it on a canvas,” says M-City. It is also on the wall at Urban Spree in Berlin.”

What appeals most to him about this project? “It’s exciting because it’s very far from my home in Poland and if you look around you see that there’s nothing around here. It is in the middle of nowhere. We just have the palm trees around and the distillery is in the middle. So we do not have a “public” here. The artists are completely free to do what they want and there are not many people around taking pictures – it’s even kind of secret. So it’s private and it is protected. Nobody can just drop in you know?”

Toxicomano. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Colombian Street Artist Toxicomano took us on a tour of a number of stencil based pieces he put up in advance of this weeks events, explaining that he likes to reclaim symbols and use them for his own meanings. One Smurf we found on a concrete-splattered tiled basewall says “Fuck Racism”.

“I like to use these images because people have in their minds some common association with it and they remember something about it from when they were a child. Now they can  start to think about it differently.”

“In Colombia we have a mixture of races we have black people we have indigenous people we have roots from Spanish people and now we have American and European influences it’s a lot. We mix a lot of things like a soup like a Latin Americans Full of ingredients and we have a special flavor. Also I think a lot of people think of Smurfs as blue but they don’t know that the first Smurf comic was actually a black Smurf and in that particular story the blue Smurfs have a problem with the black Smurf.”

Toxicomano. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“This stencil got me in a lot of trouble on Instagram,” he says the stencil that says “Las mujeres son la verga” (roughly “Women are the dick”) – mostly because it is a slang that is interpreted differently across Latin America and Spain – including within his own native Colombia. Some thought it insulted women, others thought it empowers them. He says he really enjoyed seeing the differences of opinion  but regretted that some of the comments got into personal attacks. “I preferred to not comment and to observe,” he says.

Toxicomano. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Our friends the lovely iguanas at the distillery in Codazzi, Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sunset at the distillery. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


This event has been made possible by Dictador Art Masters Foundation. To learn more about the foundation click here.

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