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.
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.
“endangering the morality and purity of the German race”, said §175 of the Criminal Code when referring to gay people.
Lies like that persist in other countries today, as does persecution
of sexual minorities. The World Economic Forum in 2018 said that 73 countries
still outlaw homosexuality, despite the move to legalize same-sex marriage in
This Sunday was worldwide Holocaust Remembrance Day and the new portrait painted by Belgian-American Street Artist Nils Westergard for Urban Nation museum is that of a victim of the Nazis who was made to wear the pink triangle sewn onto his concentration camp uniform.
“I was digging through images of camps and prisoners for a few days,” says Westergard of his search for the right image for this 2 meter wide, 6-story high wall in Berlin.
“There are only so many that are classified as homosexuals
or for sex crimes in general,” he says as he describes needing to incorporate a
pre-existing sculpture of 200 metal origami birds that form a triangle into the
composition by artist Mademoiselle Maurice.
He says that he ultimately discovered the image of this individual, a 32-year old locksmith named Walter Degen who was born January 4, 1909. While it is known that he was at Auschwitz and transferred to Mauthausen, it is not known if he survived the Holocaust.
Today we shout Walter Degen’s name from the rooftops and from this new wall to remind us how wrong we humans have historically been and how much we have learned, how much we still have to learn. We’re proud of Mr. Degen’s memory and honor his right to have loved another Mr.
Our thanks to photographer Nika Kramer for sharing her excellent images of this wall with BSA readers.
URBAN NATION x Nils Westergard:
The UNforgotten – Edition 1
Thanks to Yasha Young, Urban Nation Director.
URBAN NATION MUSEUM FOR URBAN CONTEMPORARY ART.
With support of “Faces of Auschwitz”
About “The Unforgotten” The wall at Bülowstraße 94 follows a very special leitmotif: it is a memorial for the victims of the Nazi regime, who were persecuted, abducted, imprisoned and murdered for homosexuality. This memorial wall in the LGBTQI-influenced neighborhood of Berlin-Schöneberg will over time transform again and again, as a reminder.
What are you celebrating this season? We’re celebrating BSA readers and fans with a holiday assorted chocolate box of 15 of the smartest and tastiest people we know. Each day until the new year we ask a guest to take a moment to reflect on 2015 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for him or her. It’s our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and saying ‘thank you’ for inspiring us throughout the year.
Yasha Young is the director and curator of Berlin’s Urban Nation, the first museum worldwide that will exclusively collect and exhibit contemporary graffiti and street art. She also is the director of UN’s sub-project named Project M, bringing 100 or so artists to the UN and Berlin streets in just the last couple of years. A former gallery director for 15 years focusing on LowBrow and Urban Contemporary Art, Young has curated, produced and been an enthusiastic catalyst and visionary for countless collaborative art initiatives in the public sphere; this year included projects in Berlin, Iceland, Rochester (NY), Hawaii, and Miami.
Urban Nation One Wall Project
Photograph by Aurelio Schrey
“Wenn ich wüsste das die Welt morgen untergeht würde ich heute einen Apfelbaum pflanzen”
(translated) “If I knew that the world would end tomorrow I would plant an apple tree today” ~ Martin Luther 1483 – 1546
I would like to dedicate my image choice to Herakut and this particular piece. To me this is about hope and the belief that there is always more good left on this planet than the incredible evil and hardship we see around us every day no matter where in the world.
Hope is the foundation of change. It is universal and knows no restriction, no prejudice. Hope is what we need across the world at the moment and what we can give and spread at no cost and abundance – just like love.
This mural, with the Martin Luther quote written in several different languages, unites the thought of hope and the possibility of change via generations to come across the globe even in the face of a world on fire and displaced cultures — hope remains always.