More than a hundred thousand or so visitors have come to our exhibition at Urban Nation in Berlin which takes over the entire museum. 350 photos, a few thousand more digitally, black books, drawings, ephemera, cameras, film slides, toys, miniatures, a mural, a complete timeline from 1943 to today, 70 original artworks, a 16 screen film collage by director Selina Miles… this is an endless collection of Martha’s personal and professional work and collections for all visitors to see.
The traffic is beginning to increase now that the end of this unprecedented life-spanning exhibition is nearing its end in May of this year, and we want to show you a few of the hidden gems just in case you have a free afternoon to visit the museum. It has been our honor and privilege to share this exhibition, to work so closely with the photographer herself, and to mount the first exhibition at Urban Nation that features the career of one artist – and thousands of artists.
Cey Adams, AFRO, Andres Art, Blanco, Mark Bodé, Bordalo II, Buster, C215, Carja, Victor Castillo, Cosbe, Daze, Jane Dickson, Owen Dippie, Ben Eine, Shepard Fairey, Freedom, Fumakaka, Futura, Grotesk, Logan Hicks, HuskMitNavn, Japao, James Jessop & Dscreet, Nicolas Lacombe, Justen Ladda, Lady Aiko, Lady Pink, The London Police, Mantra, John „Crash“ Matos, Nazza, Nunca, Okuda, Os Gêmeos, Alice Pasquini, Phlegm, Pixel Pancho, Dr. Revolt, Seth Globepainter, Skeme, Skewville, Skolas, Chris Stain, Tats Cru (Bio, BG183 and Nicer), Vhils, Ernest Zacharevic.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening: 1. BSA & Martha Cooper Discuss the Opening of MCL at UN
BSA Special Feature: BSA & Martha Cooper Discuss the Opening of MCL at UN
IN CONVERSATION WITH MARTHA COOPER, STEVEN P. HARRINGTON, AND JAIME ROJO (BSA) AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE MARTHA COOPER LIBRARY AT URBAN NATION BERLIN.
In November 2021, Martha Cooper was in Berlin together with Jaime Rojo and Steven P. Harrington of Brooklyn Street Art for a viewing of her exhibition “Taking Pictures”. Simultaneously the three announced the official opening of the Martha Cooper Library. They were each presented with the first MCL library cards in the MCL Reading Room at the Museum. With this, the library was formally inaugurated and has been open to the public since the second of November.
With Chief Librarian Eveline Wilson at the desk and Library Director Dr. Hans-Michael Brey leading the way, we are pleased that BSA’s vision and Martha’s vision of establishing an unrivaled library resource for scholars and students of graffiti and street art and related art movements across the globe will now have a dedicated collection for all.
Already, we are growing. Through the contact of Sascha Blasche, Hitzerot, we received a generous donation from the Dutch Graffiti Library in January of this year. The Dutch Graffiti Library was founded in 2018 by the twins Marcell and Richard van Tiggelen. Together with Sanne van Doorn, they built an extensive private collection on graffiti with a focus on the Netherlands and published several publications on the subject. Books from the Dutch Graffiti Library can be found in the OPAC. We also received an interesting donation from Kathryn Nussdorf. During a VHS (Berlin’s community education university) seminar, she created a fan book about the Berlin graffiti group CBS with many photos. In an exchange with the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy we have also received more catalogs. And in April there will be the first event: “MCL presents…”
Together with Jaime Rojo and Steven P. Harrington of Brooklyn Street Art, UN interviewed Martha Cooper about the opening on its very first day – about their common ideas, wishes and visions for the library.
We’re pleased today to show you the new article about our exhibition and book “Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” at Urban Nation – this one from the German Monopol magazine.
“Her voice on the phone is friendly and warm. But Martha Cooper, this is clear, does not want to be bored. Naturally not,” begins journalist Silke Hohmann in her article for Monopol.
“Otherwise she would not have climbed on a motorcycle in 1965 to ride from Thailand to England at the age of 22. Otherwise, she would not have moved to Tokyo as a young woman to explore and photograph a legendary and discrete tattoo scene and one of its masters at work. Otherwise, she would not become the first female photographer at the New York Post in the 1970s where she photographed life in the urban wasteland. Cooper’s photographs of Breakdancers from the 1980s are the first published pictures of a then still unknown dance form, essential for the emergence of Hip Hop culture.”
Happy NYC Marathon! The trees all over the city appear to be at peak every year around this event – just check the aerial shot of the finish line as the runners cross it in Central Park today. Also, set your clocks back one hour today, or you’ll arrive late for work tomorrow. If you have a job, that is.
News this week that the prolific and cryptic text writer RAMBO has passed away. We extend our condolences to his friends and family. His passing follows quickly the death of the octogenarian Irish-New York street artist Robert Janz, whose street collages and text installations served as witnesses to ecological and social issues he felt strongly about, as well as were a commentary on the human condition in all its mysteries. Our condolences to all those who were touched by the work and the spirit of Mr. Janz.
Our interview with the street today includes Adrian Wilson, ERRE, Fernsehturn Berlin, Jim Avignon, Layer Cake, Miss Glueniverse, Peter Missing, Praxis, Ron Miller, Sara Lynne-Leo, Joanna Wietecka, Styro, and Toxicomano.
Today at 10:00 AM PDT Shepard Fairey will release his newest print and collaboration with Martha Cooper, “People’s Discontent”. Shepard’s long friendship with Martha has brought several collaborations throughout the years with Shepard remixing some of Martha’s most iconic photos from her Street Play series from the mid-’70s. The print already saw its European release in Berlin last Friday, October 30th at the Urban Nation Museum in Berlin with us and Martha in attendance.
“I teamed up with my good friend and documentary photographer, Martha Cooper, on a new print release called “People’s Discontent.” Martha Cooper has been photographing creative kids in action on city streets since the mid-1970s. I remixed one of Martha’s iconic photos from her book, Street Play, titled “Hitchhiking a Bus on Houston Street” that she shot in 1978 in the Lower East Side of New York City. There was no advertisement on the back of the bus in her original photo, and since disco was the rage in the late ’70s, I thought it made sense for me to add a disco radio station with the slogan, “Listen To The Sounds of People’s Disco.” I added the “DISCO-ntent” and the spraypaint can in the kid’s hand as if he sprayed that on there. It’s a nod to that era but also to what’s going on now with the unrest around social justice issues.”
Venezuelan-born, Munich-based SatOne has graffiti-writing credentials dating back to the early 90s. Over time his letters went post-graffiti to imaginary worlds and science-fiction-inspired abstractions. Employed by big lifestyle, sport, and automotive brands over the last decade, his own work is full of movement and visual adventure-seeking.
Here in Berlin to participate in the Urban Nation One Wall initiative in the neighborhood of Spandau, SatOne (Rafael Gerlach) says he thinks of it as “Coming Home”, and names his new massive mural the same.
“The strict, vertical lines of the balconies can be interpreted as overlapping plateaus or levels,” says the project description. “They are arranging themselves in a dynamic pictorial composition on the surface, and just as life itself they seem constantly in motion.”
With stunning new shots from Nika Kramer we bring you the newest piece by SatOne, who says “Thanks to the daredevils Samuel, Flo and Michelle.” You know who you are.
Happy Halloween and welcome to BSA Images of the Week!
People have been in the Halloween spirit here in Berlin – and we keep seeing new pieces which may or may not be related to the holiday, but remind us of it anyway. Here’s a short collection of new stuff we discovered, including fresh pieces from Jaime Paul Scanlon AKA JPS and Nafir, who were both in town and hitting the streets with new collections of works.
Stay Safe and have fun!
Our interview with the street today includes JPS, Nafir, and a few anonymous pieces.
When we asked Shepard Fairey if he would be up for a new remix of a Martha Cooper photo for our exhibition celebrating her career, he quickly said yes. Not only did he create a new original piece of art based on one of her classic “Street Play” images to hang in the gallery of our “Marth Remix” section, but he and his excellent team have also produced a new print – 250 of which sold out in 20 minutes on the Urban Nation website last night.
The good news is Shepard will be selling another block of them on November 4th, so watch his announcements on social media!
What a complete HONOR it is for us to introduce this unique collabo between Martha Cooper and Shepard Fairey to celebrate our curation of her very FIRST career-wide retrospective, now showing at Urban Nation museum until May of 2022.
Very special thanks to our beautiful partners at YAP Berlin for making this event happen.
Click HERE to purchase your print now or HERE to purchase your print on Nov. 4.
50+ years of taking photos of artists at work means you have thousands of images of graffiti writers straddling trains, street artists leaning off ladders, muralists hovering 20 stories above the street in cherry pickers. One of 11 sections comprising “Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures”, our Artists at Work area has 400 printed images from around the world, floor to ceiling, and across a half dozen decades.
Not only can people find their graff and street art heroes on these walls as seen through Martha’s eyes, we have also created a database searchable iPad of 1300 more images of Artists of Work that have never been seen before. Just enter a country name, or artist’s name, or even a Street Art festival name, and you’ll get a whole lot of eye candy, artists, and tools of the trade.
Since the beginning of the week, we’ve been reporting from Berlin on the Martha Cooper entire career retrospective “Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” exhibition curated by Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo of BrooklynStreetArt.com.
To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the opening and some 40,000 visitors despite a few closings due to covid, a new facade honoring the photographer had just been painted on the Urban Nation museum here in the Schöneberg neighborhood of Berlin. Lady Aiko, the Japanese street artist living in New York City was asked to paint the facade of the museum with selected portraits from Martha’s best-known documentation of breakers who formed the Hip Hop scene – along with Aiko’s own iconic bunny character.
Martha is in Berlin with us to see the exhibition for the first time to actually see Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures in person since travel restrictions held us all back from being here in person up to now. Here she is looking at the mural for the first time as well. And, of course, taking pictures of it.
After Covid kept us all away from this exhibition, BSA and Martha finally got a chance to see her retrospective in person, rather than through virtual 3-D tours or videos and photos. Here she is at a vitrine this morning for our first official tour together in person.
We have some special events taking place this month to celebrate one complete year of the career-spanning exhibition “Martha Cooper: TAKING PICTURES”, which we created with the team at Urban Nation Museum in Berlin.
Today graffiti/street artist AIKO talks about her striking new graphic mural for the façade of the museum that highlights and interprets a suite of recognizable elements from Martha’s iconic photographs – a perfect answer to the Martha Remix section of the exhibition inside featuring 70 or so artists “remixing” her photos in their individual styles.
Later this month we are announcing a collaborative print release worldwide featuring another remix and a countrywide screening in theaters across Germany of “Martha: A Picture Story” with us and Martha interviewed by Nika Kramer at the Berlin opening. At a separate ceremony we also will co-host with Martha and Urban Nation the official opening of the Martha Cooper Library (MCL), a full library facility and research center to be permanently housed in the museum building.
To start off the excitement, here is Lady AIKO herself speaking about her new mural welcoming visitors to see “Martha Cooper: TAKING PICTURES”, now open until May 2022.
Q: Tell us about this mural project for UN. AIKO: Firstly, this mural is a gift for Martha Cooper in celebration of her big retrospective show at Urban Nation. Martha and I have been friends since 2006. We’ve been partners in crime, so to speak, for the last fifteen years. We have worked on many different projects together all over the world from the United States to Japan to Africa. Martha has taken over 16,000 pictures of AIKO and has archived many of her art projects.
I am honored to be part of this opportunity and working with Urban Nation to allow me to create this epic mural for Martha. The museum facade is almost like fresh skin wrapped around her massive historic exhibition with big love from everyone who was part of this production.
Martha and I have been collaborating on this one; it’s called the “Martha Cooper Remix” whereby I interpret and illustrate her images, create paintings on paper and on outdoor & indoor walls. For UN, I easily imagined us creating a big remix piece on the wall.
To begin this mural mission, I asked Martha what she would like to see on the wall; especially since I wanted to paint based on the classic pictures she photographed in NYC. She suggested several of her favorite pictures such as the one with Lady Pink when she was in the yard with the boys, Little Crazy Legs with spray cans, and the boom box one (which is the most iconic picture and the cover photo of the Hip Hop Files). Also, I included break-dancers Emiko and Frosty Freeze which are popular ones as well.
Based on her selections, I spent time at my studio to illustrate a large-scale portrait in my style and imagined it as the giant invitation banner for her show – as if it were a classic hand-painted movie ad in old Times Square. Since her show runs until next spring, till 2022, I’d love to invite everyone and spread the vibe even to the people who see the mural from the U-Bahn train above.
Q:Can you tell us about you and little background? AIKO: I’ve been based in NYC since 1997. NYC has been my playground and a huge inspiration. I met many amazing local and international artists, Faile, Bast, Banksy, Ben Eine, Obey, and Space Invader at that time. We were young artists, not famous yet, but we connected with one after another pretty much spontaneously – as if it were destiny. I started working in street art with everyone daily during the early 2000s and I was part of numerous gallery shows, jams, festivals, and museum installations. Being part of the history of street art and the graffiti (urban art) movement is how I got involved as AIKO as well.
… Meeting Martha Cooper was also another magical happening for me. Martha and I met in 2006 when I just started leaving my boys’ crew, working solo and stenciling bunnies on the streets. We became good and hard-core girlfriends and started traveling together. She introduced me to subway art legends and all other kinds of fascinating people and stuff in the world. I feel I’m one of the people who is continuing the history for the next generation.
Q:What do you think about working in Berlin? AIKO: Berlin is such a memorable place in my personal art life history. I spent lots of time without the Internet and enjoyed every day as a young artist. I made lots of friends and lots of stencils on the street. Of course, I was with Martha and spray-painted my bunny too. I’m so grateful that Urban Nation welcomed me back to town and let me create such a huge piece on the facade of the museum. Thank you so much for everyone’s support.
“MARTHA COOPER: TAKING PICTURES” Curated by Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo is currently open to the general public. Click HERE for schedules and details.