The Agency of Urban Language deals with the unspoken vocabulary that is exchanged during drug related activities around cemeteries in Medellin. The vocabulary is being re-contextualized into a context of peace, community, and progress-- in order to assist in generating a city of affection. For this part of the project, we are working closely with the students and faculty of the University of Antioquia. Today, the students transferred imagery of the re-contextualized vocabulary to silkscreens, which will then be printed on paper that will be wheatpasted in conflict areas of Medellin. The process of interacting with the students allowed for an exchange of ideas and dialogue, while simultaneously discussing the response the prints might generate. The students are currently on their summer break and are receiving course credit for their participation.
Recently, there have been protests throughout the university and the city because the government may be attempting to transform the state-subsidized university systems to for-profit organizations based on similar changes that have been implemented in other countries in South America. A faction of administrators believe that public universities are unnecessarily subsidizing the education of Colombian students because they have sufficient income. However, about 90 percent of Colombian students have a household income below the minimum Colombian salary. In actuality, the problem in the Colombian university system is not that there are some people who are not responsible for the costs of their own education, but that there are many young people who do not have the ability to pay for their education. The state, with its investment in public universities, makes an effort to alleviate--at least partially--these situations of inequality. By charging the students who's education is partially "subsidized", the profit-based system will damage mobility of potential students in the lower socioeconomic strata, decrease their chances of postgraduate training, and limit their options for the size of loan quality that they can acquire.