The astronaut spray-painted horizontally on the wall of BGC’s Icon Plaza building had a mission to deliver. The size of it and the green intersecting lines couldn’t be missed. Corporate employees, jobseekers and tourists passing by this mural gazed up at it, wondered and admired.
It’s a free gift graffiti artists give to the public. In a country where art galleries resonate more to the elite, taking art into the streets means bringing it closer to the public and for free. Just like it did in Malaysia’s George Town in Penang, street art in the Philippines also attracts attention to lesser known tourist destinations. All it takes is an Instagram-worthy spot and the place is a hit.
You know it’s a hit because everyone’s taking a part of it. BGC offers organized biking tours to see the mural spots around the area and also hosts Art in the Park events. The historic walled city of Intramuros claims one of the first buildings to have legalized graffiti walls in the country. Of course, that means a tour in Intramuros won’t be complete now without a glimpse of the CBCP building.
Even the government sees street art as the answer to a capital makeover. The walled compound of the AFP in Santolan provide a lengthy canvas. The public walls along the stretch of EDSA scream graffiti all over. It’s the public’s temporary relief during hours of traffic.
Street art can lend voice to the marginalized or be a medium for propaganda just like in Vietnam. Images of heroes like Andres Bonifacio in revolt hint of tension, while some respond to issues at hand such as murals that call to Stop Lumad Killings. So long as abandoned buildings or ruins exist, non-commissioned graffiti artists will “street” if only for the sheer thrill of it.
Meeting of Styles Philippines already held its third annual gathering of graffiti artists from all over the world. The Philippines also became the first country in the Asia Pacific to be included in the Google Art Project. With the country’s growing acceptance of street art as legitimate art, the astronaut in “Between the Lines” seemed to have landed at the right place.