Over the last few spring-like days in Berlin, her portrait rose slowly about the streets, reminding us that her moral courage continues to have an impact today on International Women’s Day. It’s only been a recognized holiday in this German city for a year, says Urban Nation museum director Jan Sauerwald. Franco’s visage is the first to occupy what has been officially identified as the museums’ ‘Brave Wall.’
“Realizing this political mural on the theme of women’s rights together with artist Katerina Voronina is a special moment for the URBAN NATION Museum program,” he says, “To present the first ‘Brave Wall’ in Berlin and Germany on this day in cooperation with Amnesty International puts the project in a fitting context.”
The artist was chosen by a panel made of an equal number of Urban Nation and Amnesty International participants, along with journalist Miriam Davoudvandi. The joint goal on International Women’s Day is clear.
“Women’s rights are human rights and therefore an important part of our human rights work. I am very pleased that the first ‘Brave Wall’ in Germany was designed by a woman, Katerina Voronina, and honors the impressive commitment of human rights defender Marielle Franco,” says Dr. Julia Duchrow, Deputy Secretary-General of Amnesty International in Germany, in a press release.
An illustrationist and motion designer, Katerina Voronina successfully evokes the resolute spirit of fighting for human rights in the portrait of Franco, “With the realization of this ‘Brave Wall’ I had the opportunity to bring a special and courageous woman into focus.” she says.
Meanwhile, in Spain, artist and muralist Marina Capdevila identifies an obvious question about saving only one day to pay tribute to women in this new piece.
“Today, we still are fighting and working nearly every day to be listened to, to be taken seriously,” she laments, reflecting on the sly kind of dismissiveness she feels about her art practice sometimes. “I’m tired of receiving 8 million emails with proposals that offer to ‘give visibility to women,’ ” she says.
“If we continue like this, will we also eventually only work one day a year?”
Until such a day, she’s loving life as a painter and savors the sisterhood that brings her support and opportunity. “I am fortunate to have wonderful women in my life who inspire me, help me, and above all, make me laugh.”
“Literally, the art had to leave the museum and come out into the street, as art in public spaces is the only art on display during these strange times,” says photographer Nika Kramer about this new program at the Stadtmuseum Oldenburg here in northern Germany.
We concur of course because we have seen that the exhibitions mounted on the streets of cities everywhere since last March have superseded the impact of most formal openings.
Covid-19, the Coronavirus has changed everything.
And that is the main point of “Neue Konturen” (New Contours), a temporary outside installation during January and February by the artist collective “The Hidden Art Project” and the muralists “die Jungs”. As a public interaction that is meant to engage people in the public sphere, a total of twelve artists and cultural workers will present seven artworks – including installations, performances, and video installations – all of which deal with the Corona pandemic.
“Corona and its effects are perceived differently by people. Our works address and interpret the experiences,” says Sven Müller, founder of The Hidden Art Project. “In this way, we hold up a mirror to the viewers and invite them to reflect on themselves and their own actions.”
Most museums have been struggling to get their doors open after many government restrictions closed them. Oldenburg City Museum will be closed when this exhibition closes for new construction as well as the renovation of the historic villas. But this has been a welcome program to say goodbye to the old and look forward to a new, positive future.
Dr. Steffen Wiegmann, director of the Oldenburg, says: “With the ‘New Contours’ program, we are bidding a temporary farewell to our location and offering artists the opportunity to use the museum building as a place and space for their art.”
We thank the artists for their dedication during the many challenges that are brought to creative endeavors these days. We also thank Ms. Kramer for sharing her shots of their work and preparations here with BSA readers.
“I’d like to give a shout-out to the Stadtmuseum for giving those young artists a platform to play,” says Nika.
“And props go to everybody working on this great project out in the very challenging cold weather and for being so flexible and making it happen – even though you completely had to change your concepts! Congrats! You rock! And thanks for having me! I had a blast.”
Fully booked and fully celebrated, the weekend long celebration of the Martha Cooper career retrospective opened with great success and great reviews as it has been heavily covered by media in print, online, and radio. Because of Covid restrictions the museum can only accommodate a certain number of guests at a time but so far all tickets have been claimed each day. Please be sure if you are going to grab a free ticket online at Urban Nations’ website.
We wish to extend a heartfelt thank you to photographer and BSA collaborator Nika Kramer for sharing her photos with us.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. “Martha Cooper : Taking Pictures” Opening Night in Berlin at UN 2. Behind the Scenes home video from Nika Kramer
BSA Special Feature: “Martha Cooper : Taking Pictures” Opening Night in Berlin at UN
The exhibition is open!
Our sincere gratitude to Martha Cooper and all of the team who worked so hard to make this event happen at Urban Nation Museum (UN) in Berlin during this difficult year of Covid. We will thank them more in detail soon, but for now please enjoy the official LiveStream of “Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures”, directed by René Kaestner and his A-1 team at Red Tower Films, along with our eloquent hosts, Mick La Rock (Aileen Middel) and Falk Schacht .
“Martha Cooper : Taking Pictures” Opening Night in Berlin at UN. Behind the scenes footage via Nika Kramer
As we prepare to open the Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures exhibition this weekend, we wanted to let you know that we are publishing a handsome catalogue with UN to accompany the show.
In addition to lush photo
spreads of Martha’s documentation over 6 decades, we have essays written by art
critic, curator and author Carlo McCormick, UN Executive Director Jan
Sauerwald, author and photographer Nika Kramer, author, curator, and Hip Hop
historian Akim Walta, National Geographic chief photo editor Susan Welchman,
curator of prints and photographs at the Museum of the City of New York Sean
Corcoran, and the curators of this exhibition Jaime Rojo and Steven P. Harrington.
The hefty hardcover, a richly illustrated and modernly designed book, is timed for release simultaneously with the exhibition opening this Friday, October 2. In addition to the essays, we have 40 quotes about Martha from her peers, artists, authorities in photography, folklore, graffiti, and Hip Hop, along with long-time friends and her family. The cover of the book features a photograph rarely seen of graffiti writer Skeme train surfing in NYC taken by Martha in 1982. The introductory texts to each of the 10 sections are written by author and curator Christian Omodeo.
At 230 pages, the new book is published by Urban Nation Museum For Urban And Contemporary Art, Berlin, and Steven P. Harrington / Jaime Rojo (BrooklynStreetArt.com). The book will be available for sale at the museum’s gift shop and on view for you to peruse in the Martha Cooper Special Projects room.
Designed by Krimm Studios
in Berlin, the project was greatly shepherded by Dr. Anne Schmedding, who
edited with us along with Martha. The entire project was carefully managed by
the brilliant Christiane Pietsch. Our sincere thanks to everyone who has worked
studiously alongside us this year during many Covid-caused complications to
produce a handsome tome we can all be proud of.
More about this project in
a future posting.
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures Curated by Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo
performance art,” says film director Michael Maxxis, as he watches street
artist Okuda painting a scene from Maxxis’ new film here in Oldenburg, Germany.
It’s unusual for this city to have graffiti or street art, so this commercial painting
by a street artist is pretty close to the real thing.
to the Spanish artist, he took a screenshot of one of his favorite scenes and
the idea was to bring the main characters in the movie to his own world. With eye-popping
color and unusual combinations of geometrics with organic forms, he succeeds in
sparking your imagination into an alternative-world of play. For the director,
the image that Okuda selected to paint is a representation of the paradise of
Filmmaker and writer and director has known Okuda for a few years and loves his
work – Okuda even designed the film posters for the movie. Here in Olderburg,
it appears to be love at first sight.
Our sincere thanks to photographer Nika Kramer who shares this story and her photographic documentation of this painting under the stunning September skies of northern Germany.
A fresh face at Urban Nation, the abstract muralist URKU has just completed the façade across the train tracks from the museum on Bulowstrasse.
Originally from Quito, Ecuador, Urku says he began his true immersion into graffiti and street art when he lived in Sydney, Australia and he hooked up with the Higher Ground crew. His first attempts were painting in abandoned places, he tells us, but the big scale walls really caught his attention.
Living in Berlin since 2015, Urku brought his girlfriend, Gamze Yalçın who is also an artist in Berlin, along for this installation on the busy thoroughfare full of noise and distractions. He says his style has evolved more into abstraction today and he likes to think his art as a visual diary – one where he re-interprets his daily visual experiences into abstract compositions.
How did he feel elevated
alongside the famous yellow trains of Berlin watching the burners fly by? “Perhaps
it would have been very nice to have appreciated the scene while painting the
wall with the trains running behind me,” he says, “but the fact is I had to
paint all the time and to complete the project. But I was in awe that this was actually
happening and seeing the trains with graffiti passing by was very cool.”
Our special thanks to BSA contributor Nika Kramer for these images and to UN.
We’re proud to announce that our exhibition Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures will be featured during the prestigious European Month of Photography (EMOP) in Berlin this October for Urban Nation Museum’s very first photography-based program.
The European Month of Photography is a network of European photo festivals which began in 2004 when photography enthusiasts in Berlin, Paris and Vienna decided to put photographic art at the center of public attention for one month at least every two years. It is Germany’s largest photography festival.
Today EMOP it is a network of photography and visual arts institutions from seven European capitals: Berlin, Budapest, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Luxembourg, Paris, and Vienna with aims “to confront expertise in curatorial practice in photography and the intention to develop common projects, notably exhibitions, including exchange of information about the local photographers and artists concerned with photography. Founding members include the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, the Cultural Department of the City of Berlin (Museumspädagogischer Dienst Berlin headed by Thomas Friedrich) and the Department for Cultural Affairs of the City of Vienna (director Bernhard Denscher).
Taking Pictures combine
photographs and personal artefacts in this retrospective that traces her life
from her first camera in nursery school in 1946 to her reputation today as a
world-renowned photographer. The exhibition covers Cooper’s wide range of
subject matter. Many of her photographs have become iconic representations of a
time, place, or culture and are distinguished by their frank human vitality,
with an eye for preserving details and traditions of cultural significance.
We’re grateful for this recognition
of the exhibition and look forward to participating in the EMOP 2020 this October
and we hope you can join us at Urban Nation – if not in person then please join
us ONLINE for our LIVESTREAM opening October 2 ! https://www.facebook.com/events/3400074053384213 All are welcome!
Our special thanks to our entire team at Urban Nation including but not limited to Martha Cooper and Director Jan Sauerwald and Melanie Achilles, Dr. Hans-Michael Brey, Carsten Cielobatzki, Sean Corcoran, Annette Dooman, Steve Fiedler, Seth Globepainter, Florian Groß, Sven Harke-Kajuth, Nancy Henze, Michelle Houston, Hendrik Jellema, René Kaestner, Kerstin Küppers, Nika Kramer, Barbara Krimm, Tobias Kunz, Jean-Paul Laue, Beatrice Lindhorst, Nicola Petek, Carlo McCormick, Selina Miles, Michelle Nimpsch, Christian Omodeo, Christiane Pietsch, Dennis Rodenhauser, Jens Rueberg, Dr. Anne Schmedding, Malte Schurau, Janika Seitz, Anna Piera di Silvestre, Skeme, Markus Terboven, Reinaldo Verde, Lennart Volber, Akim Walta, Samuel Walter, Rebecca Ward, and Susan Welchman.
The international art fair Art
Basel announced today that this year’s flashy Miami event is cancelled, joining
its two other high-profile annual fairs in Hong Kong and Basel, Switzerland, which
had both already met this fate earlier – all due to the complication of
One of the best parts about graffiti, street art, mural, and hip hop culture events like Urbane Kunst here in the city of Basel is you don’t have to worry about air kissing on both cheeks.
Graffiti jams are more interested in getting up on the wall, drinking beer, and having a barbecue – which 40 local and international artists did here from August 20-30, thanks to the event’s sponsor, Bell on Neudorfstrasse in Basel.
“The top criterion for artists was we have to know them: because we’re going to spend a lot of time together,” explains street artist BustArt, who has been working for about five years to make this wall happen. “You are together every day for about two weeks and so the main important thing is having a good time and for this, we just wanted to have cool people here with whom we’ve worked in the past and who we could trust that we were going to have a great outcome.”
Not that “Change of Colours”, as this event is called, didn’t have a lot of complications from the worldwide virus. The artist list kept changing as certain countries were eventually banned from traveling here – First the US, later Spain.
A final list of names was not available at press time but scheduled were artists like Boogie, Cole, Kesy, Kron, Tizer, Seyo, and Sonic. Photographer and journalist Nika Kramer caught a handful of the artists to ask a few questions, including Mr. Cenz (UK), Chromeo and Bane (CH), and event organizer BustArt (CH).
Street artist Julian Phethean aka Mr. Cenz is internationally known for his unique, expressive portraits of women. He tells us “I created one of my futuristic female portraits that I’ve been doing for a few years now and I paint a lot of black women as well because I think they are under-represented in the street art world. It’s very important to me, coming from a multicultural city like London.
Also for me, hip-hop is a black culture that’s why I paint mainly black power for women,” he says. “If you look at it, it’s quite spiritual as well. My style is kind of something transcendent. It’s for people to look at and to get lost in. That’s just what I do, and it’s amazing to do it on a big scale in such a prominent place and I hope people enjoy it.”
Two Swiss artists Fabian
Florin aka Bane and David Kümin aka Chromeo, have worked together on smaller
walls in the past, but the two masters of photorealism have never truly collaborated
on something new together, and they say that they’re very satisfied with the result.
For Chromeo, Basel holds a special meaning to him in the development of his career as a graffiti writer and an artist.
“Basel is history. Back in the days when I started graffiti it was like a duty: you have to go to Basel!” he says. “Because it was considered state of the art. No disrespect to other places in Switzerland but… The graffiti history is here and it is the most important, I would have to say – even though I’m not from Basel.”
In the opinion of Bane, Basel left a major impression as well, but it is much more personal. “I came here with completely fresh eyes. I was drug addicted during the time that Chromeo’s referring to,” he explains. “I’ve just been painting for about 10 years so Basel for me is a very fresh place, like new. What I enjoy here is the community. There’re so many people. It’s a community I’m stepping inside of – kind of a small family already. It was heartwarming and I felt very welcomed and for me, that is the best thing about Basel.”
organizer and hometown boy BustArt, who just completed his largest wall to date
for Urban Nation Museum in Berlin a couple of months ago, this wall has been
beckoning to him and the event is the result of persistence in pursuing it. “I’ve
been wanting to paint this wall for 20 years so we are happy that the company
actually paid for it,” he says. He calls his new piece, “Home Sweet Home”
because it symbolizes the place and the city he loves more than any other.
Stohead (Christoph Häßler) started writing graffiti at 14 in southern Germany, where he was born, and last month he completed his largest mural in Berlin for UN, three decades after he began.
Exhibiting on canvas for the last two decades in galleries and art fairs, he is an innovator with custom tools and he has mastered his own techniques of deconstructing the letterform, repeating and rolling them in layers behind translucence, complementary waves of motion cascading across, over, and down the wall of this eight-story residential building.
Part of the “One Wall” program at the Urban Nation Museum, Stohead is a calligraffitist of the newer international order, not afraid to experiment and grow, borrow and synthesize in untypical directions. Perhaps its this 6th sense that is causing this new work to slow motorists along Delpzeile 14 in Berlin-Charlottenburg.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. BustArt Says Goodbye to Berlin-Tegel 2. Transform the Tram Wait by MurOne in Barcelona
BSA Special Feature: BustArt Says Goodbye to Berlin-Tegel
A museum curating in public space is not necessarily new. Many eyes are watching with great interest as this museum in Berlin begins an academic approach toward selecting artists and artworks in public space in Berlin as Urban Nation Museum grounds its projects in its community and local history. The new work by street artist and graffiti writer Bustart is a direct reference to the nearby Berlin-Tegel airport, which will be decommissioned later this year.
Part of the
inspiration is from Otto Lilienthal, the German pioneer of aviation who became
known as the “flying man”, now cast through a 1960s comic strip version of
the modern hero gazing upward to witness the post-war middle class flying the
friendly skies. In a twist of irony, most people in this neighborhood will
probably enjoy their daily lives more now that the airport won’t be filling the
air with the sound of roaring planes overhead, allowing them to listen instead
to birds in the trees.
Art al TRAM by MurOne
these rough and rigid spaces whose only purpose is to walk through,” says Marc
Garcia, founder and director of Rebobinart, a Barcelona organization that
brings artists to the urban environment – developing projects with social and
cultural context considerations in public space.
mural takes on the space where people wait for the tram – a nondescript
netherworld, a metropolitan purgatory where you are nowhere, only between. The
Cornellà Centre TRAM stop is transformed by the Spanish artist (Iker Muro) who
has been making murals for almost two decades, combining figurative and abstract,
fiction, oblique narrative and vivid color. It’s the city, and its yours while
you wait to go to your next destination
Iker Muro is
a Spanish artist and graphic designer who has been making murals in Spain and
abroad since 2002. His work combines figurative and abstract art, conveying
both tangible and fictional elements through vivid colours and figures
influenced by the visual imagery in the cities where the artist paints.
that arriving in a place like this and finding a kind of art gallery is a
reason for attraction,” says MurOne, “I feel motivated by these kinds of
The URBAN NATION MUSEUM FOR URBAN CONTEMPORARY ART presents a six-decade retrospective of Martha Cooper’s photographs.
MARTHA COOPER: TAKING PICTURES
October 2nd 2020 – August 1st 2021
Curated by Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo
Skeme, the Bronx, 1982. Copyright Martha Cooper.
and personal artifacts, MARTHA COOPER: TAKING PICTURES traces her life from her
first camera in nursery school in 1946 to her reputation today as a world-renowned
This retrospective is the first documentary exhibition to be presented at the URBAN NATION Museum and it ushers in a new era for the museum under its new director Mr. Jan Sauerwald.
MARTHA COOPER: TAKING
PICTURES presents the photographer’s versatile vision of the world, with creativity
found on every corner. The exhibition opens with the images from Subway Art,
her landmark 1984 book with Henry Chalfant, now credited with jump-starting the
worldwide urban art movement. Martha’s photographs documented the secret subculture
of writers and the coded artworks they created illegally on thousands of New
York City trains.
are distinguished by their frank human vitality, with an eye to preserving
details and traditions of cultural significance. Many of her photographs have become
iconic representations of a time, place or culture. The exhibition will offer a
rare insight into Martha’s archives through previously unpublished photographs,
drawings, journals, articles, letters, and artifacts. As a lifelong and avid
collector, her private trove of black books, stickers, Kodak film wallets and child-made
toys will also be on display. Emphasis is placed on Martha’s extensive travels
and the artistic friendships that she has fostered internationally.
180th Street Station Platform, the Bronx, 1980. Copyright Martha Cooper.
Fans will recognize images
from her books Hip Hop Files (with Akim Walta, 2004), Street Play (2005),
We B*Girlz (with Nika Kramer, 2005), New York State of Mind
(2007), Name Tagging (2010), and Tokyo Tattoo 1970 (2011). As an
exhibition highlight, the original mock-up of her legendary book Subway Art
(with Henry Chalfant, 1984) will be on display, as well as artworks from her
personal collection including a pair of original paintings by graffiti king,
video installation called “The Rushes” will debut in the exhibition by filmmaker
Selina Miles, who directed the documentary Martha:
A Picture Story and premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival in NYC.
An extensive section called “Martha Remixed” showcases the work of over
35 artists who have reinterpreted Cooper’s photographs or paid personal tribute
with portraits in an array of styles and mediums and locations. Unique to the
exhibition, visitors will see the new collaboration between Martha and multidisciplinary
Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic who will create a two-story mural onsite inside
immediately excited to be given the opportunity to present the world’s first
major retrospective of photographer Martha Cooper and to introduce her body of
work to URBAN NATION Museum visitors. We are interested in focusing on Cooper’s
photographic work and expounding on her working methods. In addition, we will
present her worldwide collaborations with artists and protagonists of the
street art and graffiti movement and provide audiences the opportunity to delve
deeply into the cosmos of Martha Cooper’s work. We are delighted to be able to
present and convey a unique compilation of photographs and artifacts from her
personal collections.” – Jan Sauerwald, Director of the URBAN NATION
Lower East Side, Manhattan. NYC, 1978. Copyright Martha Cooper.
Martha’s specialty is
documenting artistic process in public space. Her formal training in art and
ethnology set a unique template to better understand cultural practices and
techniques and her friendships with artists gave her close and personal access to
show materials, tools and techniques in detail as they evolve over several
generations. As part of this larger practice, Cooper’s iconic photos of
clandestine graffiti activities have proven to be a valuable record and an important
key to understanding the story of the movement’s proliferation around the world.
Martha’s curiosity has always driven her documentation. Her black and white photographs from her book Tokyo Tattoo 1970 (2011), represent her first foray into an underground art world and hidden practices. In Street Play she concentrated on the invincible spirit of city kids who are creatively rising above their bleak environment. Her photographs of 1980s breakers are the earliest published images of an unknown dance form at the time that became known as central to the definition of Hip Hop culture. As the first female staff photographer on the New York Post, Cooper sought out subjects to pursue independently. Her intrepid and sometimes risky pursuit of taking pictures has inspired many young people to pursue their own artwork and career paths.
Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo (New York) have been curators and
co-curators for the URBAN NATION Museum since 2015 (Project M/7 Persons of Interest, 2015, URBAN NATION opening
exhibition UNique. UNited. UNstoppable., 2017). They are also founders
and editors of the influential art site Brooklyn Street Art (BSA) since 2008, a
respected daily clearinghouse of the global street art scene.
“Martha’s style is
to dive in and be fearless, immersing herself in the moment – and she’s been
documenting what she finds around the world for six decades. That’s the
attitude we took curating this exhibition, knowing that each element captured
in her work is genuine and transient. It is our goal for visitors to be
transformed by her unique eye for a historic preservation of the ordinary that
is often exceptional – whether it is documenting the verboten process of making
1970s graffiti, capturing youths performing moves that were later called
“breaking”, the inking processes of Japanese tattoo culture, or the ingenious
games kids devised for play in New York’s abandoned neighborhoods,” say
Harrington and Rojo about MARTHA COOPER: TAKING PICTURES.
URBAN NATION MUSEUM FOR URBAN CONTEMPORARY ART Bülowstraße 7, 10783 Berlin-Schöneberg
Interviews will be
offered in prior with Martha Cooper, Curators Steven P. Harrington and Jaime
Rojo, and Director of the URBAN NATION Museum, Jan Sauerwald. Requests can be
send to firstname.lastname@example.org.