From Art critic Emilie Trice who calls it ‘the graffiti Mecca of the urban art world’ [though her statement is contested by other art critics], to UNESCO referring to it as the city of Design,then to various tourist admitting it is the most ‘bombed’ city in the whole of Europe. The city of Berlin cannot be mentioned without speaking of her street art.
For the tourist who visit Berlin on a regular, most of the questions they ponder on are: Are the street arts legal and do they still represent expressionist movement/art?
Before diving into the questions, it is pertinent to understand how the street art came about.
Two decades after World War II gave Germany a hard blow, they found it daunting to regain all that the war had taken from them.it took years after the war for Turkish and French migrants to occupy places that were destroyed by the war. For them to remember history and comment on the situation in Germany and the political world at the time, the migrants took to carving words on concrete and making temporary paintings on the famous wall and on buildings. Overtime, it became a muse for other artists like XOOOOX, Mein Lieber Prost and Alias who turned places the military had occupied to a playground of street art.
To answer the above question, it is difficult for most Berliners to answer if street art is legal because the streets are filled with these art forms, but the artists are arrested if found painting on the walls. Though it seems illegal but tourist get mesmerised by these graffiti’s and as you know, tourists help to strengthen the economy.
In an interview with one of Germany’s ‘THE LOCAL’ newspaper, head of German Police anti-graffiti team Marko Moritz maintains that the Police regard graffiti as a criminal activity.According to Moritz, his team’s job is to arrest members whose paintings are not exactly rooted in the art but in what he terms as Gang Culture which he described as unscrupulous youths bombing buildings, trains and sidewalks with their signature and all shade of colours wich he expresses as a cruel way to deface public property.
While in Berlin, my teammates and I focused on Appiah’s theory of Cosmopolitanism as it relates to Baudrillard’s theory of the glass reflection. Our aim was to understand how and why cosmopolitans view these graffiti without expressing any form of feeling or aura. which brought about our use of a reflective glasses.
Details of those pictures are on http://www.mediaresearchmethods.wordpress.com or if you are in Coventry in July, visit us at the Glass box in the 11th-17th for the exhibition.
To answer the second question, I ask- do you consider the art you have viewed above expressionist?
I am of the opinion that all forms of art like Benjamin Walter express how the artist sees and understand his/her society. Some of the street art did not mean much to me but for the fact that the artist used a blend of interesting colours, i as every other cosmopolitan and tourist in Berlin had to click on our cameras shutter for memories.