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Presentation at the Art and the City conference

13 June 2023

Session 7: Street Art and Urban Communities in the City

12H40 Petr Vašát, Social Anthropology, Humboldt University

13H00-13H30 General Discussion


Transforming communities with colours: the emergence and development of macroscale paintings in Latin America

This paper traces down the emergence and development of macroscale paintings in Latin America. In recent years, macroscale paintings—the most often called macromurals—have become a major trend through which various actors try to transform marginalised communities in cities by colouring their houses. The making of these paintings is characterized by a tendency to chase magnitude resulting in their extraordinary visibility on urban surfaces: for instance, the project El Gran Telar in Lima was inaugurated as the biggest mural in Peru, the mural in Usiacurís considered the largest macromural on roofs in Colombia, and La Mariposa in Bogotá was even classified as the biggest in the world. Relying on ethnography of circulations, the paper shows how this politics of macroscale specifically shapes the way how the idea travels between cities and how is locally applied. In particular, while individual actors very often know about other cases—when aimed at achieving their various size-oriented goals—they are designedly only vaguely inspired. Thus, rather than a result of idea mutation, some of the paintings represent a form of innovation. The paper concludes that only by inquiring into these diverse partly independent types of the making can one fully understand and evaluate complex effects of macroscale paintings on communities and cities.


Vašát, P. 2023. Transforming communities with colours: the emergence and development of macroscale paintings in Latin America. Art and the City, Columbia Global Centres, June 11-14, Amman.


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