Fernando Traverso's Bicycles

Jun 27, 2023 0 comments

Throughout the streets of Rosario, a city in the central Argentine province of Santa Fe, you will find hundreds of images of bicycles stenciled in the walls. Each bicycle pay homage to a victim of Argentina's military dictatorship.

The project was started in 2001 by Fernando Traverso, an Argentinian hospital worker and political activist, who began by spray painting twenty-nine life-sized bicycle stencils on walls, windows, doors and other spaces across his home town Rosario in memory of his twenty-nine friends who were abducted and killed during Argentina's state-sponsored terrorism which lasted from 1974 to 1983.

Credit: Twitter

Bicycles played a key role during the resistance, as most members used them as their primary mode of transport. Traverso noticed that as his friends started disappearing, often their bicycles would be left behind. Seeing an abandoned bicycle was often the first sign that its owner had disappeared. These bicycles left standing in the streets of Rosario stood as memorials to those who were taken. Almost 25 years later, Traverso decided to make these memorials more permanent by spray painting the bicycle image on buildings throughout the city. Today, there are 350 bicycles stenciled across the city in memory of the 350 who disappeared in Rosario. It is estimated that some 30,000 people were killed or disappeared across the country during the military dictatorship of Argentina.

"The beautiful thing about the project is that I started it alone," recalls the artist, "but soon friends and family joined. A collective story was put together, and four years passed until we made those 350 works. The episode behind them is very sad, but the idea was clear: to capture the attention of whoever saw them walking on the sidewalk, and the bikes were a good choice. I have ridden a bicycle all my life: I am almost 70 years old and I still use it. Why? Because it helped me get to know the city better, because it makes me fall in love with it and because, despite everything, it brings back beautiful memories of my youth".

Credit: Pruxo/Wikimedia

Credit: Ciclosfera

Credit: Canorthrop/Wikimedia

Fernando Traverso, painting one of his bicycles. Credit: Ciclosfera


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