A Preview of the Graffiti at Bogotá’s Universidad Pedagógica

There are times when one wonders if any students do indeed actually hit the books at Bogotá’s Universidad Pedagógica. As a national public university, the alumni of this prestigious institution receive classes from some of the best teachers around. But, were you to wander around – as I did this Sunday – the Universidad Pedagógica’s small campus located on the Calle 72 and Carrera 11, you might be forgiven for forming the wrong impression of the place.

Universidad Pedagógica

Crime and Punishment, the unforgiving central entrance to the Universidad Pedagógica

Creative political graffiti festoons the buildings and is about as ubiquitous to the campus as bunting to an English village fete. And of course, there are the not so creative but no less significant messages scrawled here too. The Universidad Pedagógica houses its fair share of militants to say the least. But, the artwork here offers a visible and accessible litmus test to current events in Colombia.

Lenin

A glimpse through the railings of the Universidad Pedagógica reveals all sorts of political messages

Universidad Pedagógica

The forecourt seems fit for student rallies

Carlos Alberto Pedraza

On January 21 2015,the body of social leader Carlos Alberto Pedraza (33) was found in the rural area of Gachancipa, Cundinamarca. He had been shot in the head.

I have written extensively about Bogotá’s graffiti scene and have ensured that if I accompany new visitors to the city such as the Sunday Times’ AA.Gill or the Globe and Mail’s Stephanie Nolen, the Carrera 26 and beyond are key points on my route.

Resurrection and Insurrection at the Universidad Pedagogica

Resurrection and Insurrection at the Universidad Pedagogica

skull

I am not certain of the significance of this graffiti, but it certainly caught my eye!

Universidad Pedagogica

Peligro? Danger?

The Universidad Pedagógica feels different though, perhaps because it is located just shy of the stock exchange, the headquarters of many multinational firms and the leafy district of Rosales. And while this university makes up part of the Universidad Nacional, perhaps the Pedagógica’s location makes it feel more militant than the central campus of the “Nacho” (Universidad Nacional) down on the Carrera 30?

Universidad Pedagogica

Welcome…

Universidad Pedagogica

Is this inspired by Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit“?

Universidad Pedagogica

Entrances are barred and chained and seemingly protect a decaying educational institution

One day I will get inside the Universidad Pedagógica and will be able to scan all of the artwork and graffiti displayed therein. But, today being Sunday the guards were not forthcoming although they were prepared to share a few thoughts with me. Yes, the teachers are amongst the best in the country and yes, the students are militant!

A selection of three sets of windows with varying messages.

A selection of three sets of windows with varying messages including a clear reference to the Agricultural Protests.

Universidad Pedagógica

Thinly veiled references!

Universidad Pedagógica

Memory and Struggle Forever

And of course, this graffiti is important and the messages expressed are key to the democratic process in Colombia.

Universidad Pedagógica

We won’t Forget

This piece pictured above is possibly the most impacting, in part due to its visible location right on the corner of the Carrera 11 and Calle 72 and its provocative colours. I have yet to decipher the name but one imagines that the person pictured here met a similar end as to Carlos Alberto Pedraza.

Universidad Pedagógica

“No Dar Papaya” a Colombian phrase explained best here!

Universidad Pedagógica

Loco

Universidad Pedagógica

Jorge Eliecer Gaitan and a solitary desk

Universidad Pedagógica

And just up the road, a statue of Bernardo O’Higgins the Chilean Independence leader, defaced by supporters of the Universidad Pedagógica

The students and I suspect the faculty of the Universidad Pedagógica are seemingly continually on strike, protesting something or another. If you are in Bogotá and find yourself in the neighbourhood, stop by to take a look at the artwork since it is continually changing. However, should your nose twitch at the telltale eye watering scent of tear gar and see the riot police (ESMAD) nearby, you are advised to move on elsewhere!

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