From environmental nightmares to the corporate war machine to social solidarity to identity politics to abortion to the isolation brought on by Covid, the muralists at the MEMUR Festival in Oldenburg, Germany are not muting their serious concerns about the modern world.
For being the inaugural episode of a festival, you have to be impressed with it on many levels. First is the selection high-quality international and national artists from both the street art and graffiti world. Secondly, organizers devised an equitable solution for these two distinct, yet entirely related, subcultures to participate fully on the walls of their fair city – with respect for all. Finally, the true rebellious spirit of this organically grown and democratic global people’s art movement was preserved by encouraging artists to select a modern-day societal ill and address it with their work.
It’s refreshing to experience a themed public exhibition like this that has not been censored by commercial interests but that endeavors to speak openly with its artworks about potentially difficult subjects to address the everyday passerby. “Street art has always been a means to criticize, reflect, and question,” says an online description of the scenes’ nascent beginnings, and that couldn’t be more true from our perspective. MEMUR 2022 calls it ‘Evolution of a Revolution,’ and since there is a widespread notion across developed world countries that leaders are not representing citizens anymore, you can imagine that these works may get people talking together and realizing that we are not polarized left-right, but top-bottom.
Today we’ll show you images from the street art muralists’ walls on one side of the 280-meter-long wall of the railway elevation on the Oldenburg federal railway path, and tomorrow we’ll show you the ‘Wall of Fame’ created on the other side by a stunning array of graffiti writers. In both cases, we extend our heartfelt thanks to two of the main participants in the event, photographers Martha Cooper of New York and hometown superstar/international photographer Nikka Kramer. Thanks to both for sharing their images with BSA readers.
Bulgarian muralists Arsek & Erase may have chosen one of the hottest current topics to address in their mural; the fear of hyperinflation and the severe damage it can do to individuals. The illustration-style painting features a vicious snake enveloping a jar of “savings”, preparing to consume it whole. Here in Oldenburg, where German inflation rose to its highest level in almost 50 years in August (8.8%), people are familiar with the topic. In their hometown of Sofia, Aresek & Erase are experiencing a 17% rate of inflation as of last month. Technically the term “hyperinflation” is somewhere above 50%, and 60 or so countries have fallen into it in the last hundred years, including Argentina today, and rather famously, the Weimar Republic (of which Oldenburg was a federated state) exactly 100 years ago, from 1921-23.
Suffice it to say that today many of the world’s currencies are in danger of inflationary pressures, including the dollar and Euro. There was talk amongst participants and organizers of MEMUR that the costs of the festival itself had to be recalibrated a few times because of increased costs in lodging, transportation, labor, and art materials.
“Thanks to everyone who came despite the heat to watch the artists paint, participate in the graffiti workshops and try their luck at the raffle,” said the organizers in their Instagram posting.
“All the positive feedback on the festival and the exhibition “Evolution of a Revolution” in the Kulturhalle am Pferdemarkt has only strengthened our belief that Oldenburg is ready for street art and that we definitely want to continue!’