Vinny Cornelli is becoming a regular on BSA because with his photography he peels back some of the street art hype and looks at the innards of the gritty culture that engenders it. A departure from documentation, his eye captures something more.
For this photo essay, Vinny shows and tells us about his trip last week to Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city after Berlin- and opens our eyes to their approach to aesthetic expressions of the spirit on the street.
from Vinny Cornelli
Last weekend I was able to visit my girlfriend, Lena, on her home turf of Hamburg, Germany. I concede (for some of the obvious reasons) that the trip was incredible, warm and homey. Even outside of those reasons, I was also so very excited by the colors and comforts I felt from a city that seems to gush as a result of the public street and graffiti art that the population either endorses or passively permits.
Hamburg is home to the likes of Flying Fortress and Funk25 and many other street artists. The city also fosters the existence of squats such as the Gaengeviertel; a small community of flats, studios and galleries that keeps it’s doors, beers and art open and available to it’s public. Like many people, these are some of the ideals that I subscribe to and appreciate.
Because I was in the good company of Lena, light snowfall, and the art surrounding us, I had the fortunate opportunity of a guided walking tour through many streets, nooks, and playgrounds. It was quite nice.
One interesting/odd observation I noted was that much of the street art was placed well above the mass marketed posters of albums, concerts, and movies hitting your local Hamburg establishment. In a way, it gave me the feeling that everyday, commonplace (and I think boring) life is placed at eye-level. Yes, this is what’s sometimes seen in NYC and other hotbeds of public art…but some of it just doesn’t fit.
I visited C215 this summer, and he spoke at great lengths of the importance of where he’s placing his stencils – otherwise, it becomes irrelevant. I feel that the wheat pastes and stencils in Hamburg tend to suffer as a result. Placement seems sporadic when viewed with other works sharing the same wall.
On the other hand, it seemed that the graffiti artists were better leveraging the walls and spaces they occupy and their work also seemed very well organized.
I thoroughly enjoyed capturing these photos and the inspiration they foster. I have already booked my tickets to return in April, so I look forward to sharing the city of Hamburg’s movement into the spring.