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Brooklyn Street Art

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“Face Time” with Various & Gould in Berlin

Posted on July 15, 2015

80 meters from the former Berlin Wall in an area still straddling “former east” and “former west” in Berliners’ minds, Street Art duo Various and Gould have just spent 12 days on “Face Time”, a patchwork faced mural that mimics the increasing diversity of the city. Suitably for this new view of the city, it is on a new building.

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Various & Gould “Face Time” Berlin. July 2015 (photo © Hans Friedrich)

A greatly enlarged version of a collage they made from 20 or so different faces, the 250 square meter piece is their first in the city and as is the case of much of their work, contains questions about our sense of identity and exactly what defines it.

“One guy asked us, ‘What’s the name of the man?’” says Various they talk about the various comments they got from various people on various occasions. “He said, ‘That face reminds me a bit of a young Obama.’

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Various & Gould “Face Time” Berlin. July 2015 (photo © Various & Gould)

“The truth is that it is more of a patchwork identity,” offers Gould. “The result isn’t a real person with a name. We can’t even say whether it’s a man since the single face parts vary in gender.”

An unusually large size for the two, at some point the work involved was perhaps more than they realized. Luckily, some friends came by to help paint – and some strangers did too. “Twice we had the situation that very friendly – but total strangers – spontaneously climbed onto the scaffolding to offer their help!” says the wide-eyed Various incredulously.

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Various & Gould “Face Time” Berlin. July 2015 (photo © Various & Gould)

In New York this sort of random generosity means they will be a.) trying to steal your paint,  b.) asking you for some cash for drugs. In Berlin apparently, it is just the random kindness of strangers. “Both times they worked with us for a couple of hours!” says Gould.

Mural work is more grueling than most people realize, including most artists, and at some point you may lose your mind painting these dots that emulate the screen printing process that V&G fell in love with years ago.

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Lunch time for the workers Various & Gould . Berlin. July 2015 (photo © Various & Gould)

Gould explains, “It was a lot lot lot of work, painting these halftone dots … But we really needed to do it this way. We are crazy about these dots. We are passionate silkscreen printers!”

The design is actually taken from a silkscreen print collage they wheatpasted versions of on the street in Paris earlier this year. The two even used a typical silkscreen method to painting – first by painting the areas of color underneath, then carefully applying the halftone layer (all the dots) on top.

Now that its done the two say they want their work to put into question our accepted ideas about beauty as well as identity with their Dadaistic “Face Time” series. “Our aim is to create characters, not to portray actual people,” says Various. Gould agrees, “But in the end, our fictional faces seem far more real to us than many of the faces shown in the media every day.”

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Various & Gould “Face Time” Berlin. July 2015 (photo © Various & Gould)

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Various & Gould “Face Time” Berlin. July 2015 (photo © Various & Gould)

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Various & Gould “Face Time” Berlin. July 2015 (photo © Various & Gould)

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Various & Gould “Face Time” Berlin. July 2015 (photo © Various & Gould)

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Various & Gould “Face Time” This is the original poster that inspired the big mural being wheat pasted in Paris in the Spring. (photo © Various & Gould)

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Various & Gould “Face Time” Berlin. July 2015 (photo © Various & Gould)

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Various & Gould “Face Time” Berlin. July 2015 (photo © Hans Friedrich)

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Various & Gould “Face Time” Berlin. July 2015 (photo © Hans Friedrich)

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