Graffiti and street art are officially illegal in Germany, but as this posts will show, the letter of the law is not always the same as the application of the law. Street artists seem to thrive in Berlin, even if the police have attempted to rein them with strict laws. But there is little incentive to really bring these artists to ‘justice’ since Berlin is also a UNESCO City of Design, and a city that thrives due to the artistics and creatives that make this city home.
Still, to skirt around the law, which defines graffiti as “sprayed, painted, scratched, letters and symbols that take effect on public spaces” street artists have begun to use the paste up technique instead – these are not sprayed, painted or scratched, a paste-up drawings, artworks and pictures is also no letter or symbols.
These three works are from the street artist SOBR, who takes pictures of people dancing, well mostly women, at parties and nightclubs in Berlin and then makes a pasteup picture of the best pictures he has taken. Berlin is a great place for taking pictures since it is arguably the clubbing capital of Europe.
The recentness of the pictures can be seen by the amount of glitter on the past up – SOBR shotts glitter at the pastup after the work is done. So hey, if you’ve been to a Berlin club and seen someone taking pictures, you might find yourself an art-piece on the streets of Berlin soon!
El Bocho is one of the most well known of Berlin’s street artists despite being based in Frankfurt. The first piece above is a tile with the theme CCTV (one of four art themes that El Bocho has focused on). In these pieces there are supposed to be two street cameras with a life of there own, named Kalle and Bernd and they make random observations about anything really, as random as any conversation that can be taking place on the streets at any time. Some of the works were put on tiles and pasted up, however since every piece is unique and an original El Bocho sells for quite a sum these tiles were removed easily, precipitating a change of medium. El Bocho was also inspired by a Czech cartoon about a little girl called “Little Lucy”, finding her too boring he decided to inject a little dark human and so every Little Lucy piece is about creative ways Little Lucy finds to try to kill cats.
Fckwrs message is quite clear, using the same font and design as Star Wars, Fuck Wars descends on a city and puts their street art up at one time – they are not a Berlin based group. You might find them in a city near you.
Banksy is perhaps one of the most well known of modern street artist, a controversial figure, his works tend to have a lot of significance crossing boundaries of art, philosophy, sociology and politics.
There are not too many Banksy pieces in Berlin, apparently he has not been to Berlin to drop his work there in a while, but this is a definite Banksy – I don’t know what its about, but I see it as a commentary on the rat race with suits that we all go through.
The VG crew went round asking people what they felt was the worst and most ugly features of their face (if there was any) and later took pictres of those parts. They then made it into this combination image above. The most ugly parts of many peoples faces looked like the face of a normal person on the street – an statement that sometimes people can be too self-critical about ourselves. On the mustache though, if its ugly just shave it off.
Berger H Elefant is a street artist who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis a motor neuron disease which causes the death of motor neurons controlling voluntary movement, most people with ALS will die within two to four years after the diagnosis. Because of his disease, Berger H Elefant is locked in his body unable to travel much out of Berlin, but being physically locked in does not mean that his mind cannot travel the world. And it is through his art that Berger H Elefant travels the world. While large elefants ones leave a permanent mark, the small ones he asks people to take with them and take pictures of them wherever they go in the world so that he gets to explore the world with them. These don’t drop too often, but I managed to find one hidden between two pipes.
The symmetric image of a man in the distance is called Obey, the second-most well known work of Shepard Fairey, the man whose post of Obama thrust a young unknown African-American senator from Ilinois into a political and cultural icon. Fairey was obsesses not so much with the picture as he was with the concept that the repeated showing of something will get people to psychologically pay attention and think/ask about it.
These are just some of the pieces pointed out to me that I liked, there’s so much more art work in Berlin to see, go check it out!
P.S: this is a really fascinating documentary made by Banksy about the life of an french man who was originally trying to make a documentary about him. But it does a very interesting job documenting the street art movement.