Stencils & Graffiti: Making Systemic Violence Visible in Madrid

Walking by different districts in Madrid on my way to work I run into several stencils,  graffiti, and interventions that focus on the cuts in social budgets and on the labor precarization that have been imposed on the people living in the Spanish state.  With the potency inherent to non-authorized cultural production, these pieces make visible what Slavoj Zizek calls systemic or institutionalized violence. In Violence:  Six Sideways Reflections (2008) Zizek argues that it is in the circulation of capital–in the “self-propelling metaphysical dance of capital”–where the “fundamental systemic violence of capitalism” resides  (11).  Depressingly, this is nothing new: the interests of global capital take precedence over the needs of people and of life on the planet. The icons, declaratory texts, and figures that compose these stencils and graffiti on the streets of Madrid confront the passersby with the devastating effects of systemic violence on people’s lives and interrupt the aseptic official discourses of neoliberal capital and its Newspeak (in Spanish, neolengua): structural reforms, salary moderation, mini-jobs, mobility, flexibility, advantageous loans, to mention just a few.  In the unexpected encounters with the spray-writing on the walls, an ephemeral and public writing open to all, there emerge spaces for reflection, as well as questions about rights won arduously after decades of struggles and that are being swiftly taken away, questions about writing as a cartography for possible worlds, about the several neighborhood projects that are creating models of life sustained by solidarity and social justice.

redesycalles 2j pfPor Favor and Dos Jotas: Equation. Apodaca, 1 Oct. 2014.

redesycalles_4928_rtAnonymous stencil: “Earning 600€ [a month] is violence”.  Santa Isabel, 22 April 2014.

Yipi Yipi Yeah  IMG_5935Yipi Yipi Yeah: “See you never again, Madrid! We’re emigrating.” Argumosa, 25 May 2014.

IMG_5491El Rey de la Ruina:  “I’m looking for a job”. Lavapies, 11 May 2014.

IMG_5722“We’re Not Invisible”, Tetuán, 20 May 2014.

redesycalles Otono 2 2013“Public health services up for privatization”. Avenida Reina Victoria, fall 2013.

IMG_5730Anonymous intervention: Las Cortes–>LosReCortes [Courts –> Cuts]. Buruclín Borrasca: sticker. Las Cortes, 20 Mayo 2014.

redesycalles_4440_rtAnonymous stencil:  “We don’t owe anything, we don’t pay anything”. Lavapiés, 28 March 2014.

redesycalles quien debe IMG135 copyAnonymous stencil: “Who owes what to whom”. Avenida Reina Victoria, fall 2013.

IMG_4929Anonymous stencil: “Fear never won you any rights”.  Santa Isabel, 22 April 2014.

To see pieces by Por Favor, visit his gallery on tumblr.  You can see Dos Jotas‘ work here. You can find Yipi Yipi Yeah’s work in their webpage.

You can read about the campaign Invisibles de Tetúan here.

To see more pieces by Rey de la Ruina, visit his gallery on flickr. And his archive in tumblr. You can also check this post by Madrid Street Art Project.


Alturas de Madrid / Heights of Madrid

When walking in the streets of Madrid, make sure to look up.  The sections of the walls beyond hand reach are  spots favorited by street artists to put paste-ups, plates, and posters,  eluding this way the Ayuntamiento’s zeal for removing sprayed street art.  Here is a brief selection :

redesycalles IMG_6636Yipi Yipi Yeah: hot dog.  Wolf:  space invader.  Malasaña, 20 June 2014.

redesycalles IMG_6688From left to right: above: Seven Logos: Seven/Siete; Jonipunto: Heart; Por Favor: Yo; Edge Guitar; Balu Art.  Ribera de Curtidores, 21 June 2014.

redesycalles IMG_6700Wolf:  mosaic.  Por Favor: Tiananmen Surf . Mercado de La Cebada, 21 June 2014.

redesycalles IMG_6620Pasteups in the middle:  Por Favor:  Silence / Nurse.   Wolf: Space Invader.  Calle de la Madera, 21 June 2014.

Por Favor: El oso y el madroño / The Bear and The Berry Tree

I’ve recently ran into a couple of images of Spanish street artist Por favor’s intervention of  the official symbol of the city of Madrid.  While the famous statue at Puerta del Sol and the logo of the Ayuntamiento (city hall) depict a robust bear and a blossoming tree–the statue itself is about 4 meters high and weighs about 20 tons–Por Favor’s stickers depict squalid icons, eloquently pointing to deprivation of vital nourishment and to a city’s administration in decay:

Por Favor IMG_5948Lavapiés, 25 May 2014.

IMG_6218El oso y el madroño,  Paseo del Prado, 30 May 2014.


To see other urban interventions by Por Favor check out Tumblr.  Here is another link to his work.