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Brooklyn Street Art

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Discovering “The Kaos Factory” in Leipzig

Posted on October 2, 2018

The Industrial Revolution ushered in miracles of production, mechanics, engineering, speed, ease of global distribution – possibly the most important event in human history. It also killed cultures, decimated families, poisoned the Earth, air, water, radically changed civil society, enslaved people in dangerous conditions and caused workers to unite as never before.

The flight of industry has now given us incredible relics to explore and create art inside of or upon.

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As industrial production migrated away from so-called Western societies in the last four decades we have been gifted the glorious and treacherous legacy of the factories in our cities. Urban explorers are now nearly legion on some cities, graffiti writers and Street Artist part of the mix. While the goals are often at odds – with explorers wishing only to preserve and archive and urban artists interested in finding new canvasses or installation environments – no one denies the sense of wonder and discovery wandering these carcasses of production in preservation or dilapidation.

If you have the luck to explore the steel and broken glass and possibly toxic materials sprayed with names and characters and patterns or adorned with sculptures of found materials spotlighted by natural beams of luminous fine matter, it can all present itself as a splendid chaos.

Or KAOS.

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Whenever we travel to a new city as guests for academic talks on Street Art, art curating, or just seeing festivals and exhibitions we make it our priority to visit the forgotten margins of the industrial environs; spots where creativity and loose talk can happen uncensored, without permission and absent considerations of financial gain. The abandoned, decaying buildings like this one serve as a laboratory for many artists around the world, presenting an unintended studio environment and university function for artists who are experimenting, discovering, refining their skills.

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We had the good fortune to visit one such place during our most recent trip to Leipzig, Germany on the occasion of our participation in the first edition of Monumenta Art. With our friend and colleague, photographer Nika Kramer we visited the KAOS Factory, colloquially named because the German graffiti artist by the same name has slowly taken it over with his work during the last few years, by default converting the former steam factory into his de facto “residency”.

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

He gave us a tour of the sprawling compound and told us about how much he loves coming here to paint. He told us stories about how young writers come to the factory to paint and due to their lack of experience or knowledge of “street rules” go over his work or his friends work and how he has to confront them and inform them that it may look like chaos to some, but there is actually an unwritten set of guidelines of respect that graff writers show for one anothers’ work – usually.

Similarly these young, inexperience writers take unnecessary risks while walking through the occasionally dangerous factory ruins, he says, with sometimes disastrous results. Today we share with BSA readers some of the many KAOS rooms here where the hospitable graffiti writer has done installations, finding a certain joy when he sees people who have managed to break in to enjoy the works – or to add their own.

Our thanks to KAOS for sharing with us the glorious chaos.

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Plotbot Ken. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Atomic Ant. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ixus. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Reve. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Benuz. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Benuz. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


The video shows the attempt to implode the smokestack in the factory in 1995. While the implosion was somewhat successful it didn’t go as planned and it could have been a fatal disaster for the community around the factory. The photo below the video shows the very bottom part of the smokestack as it currently is and to the left it shows the potential damage to property and most likely fatalities as well should the stack have fallen to the left.

The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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