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.
and bright and staring at the summer sky, the new mural in the Tegel area of
Berlin is quintessential BustArt. Two decades after starting his mark-making as
a Swiss graffiti writer, his style borrows elements from that classic graffiti
mixed with cartoons, pop art, and perhaps an eye toward others like Crash and
D*Face who themselves point to the Roy Lichtenstein.
His brand of ‘neopop” mixology is unique to him of course, and the tireless effort, scale of work (40 meters x 16 meters), and relative speed that he works sets him in a category of his own.
“This is the biggest wall I have painted so far and I could not be more happy with the outcome,” he says of the two week gig. The confident command of visual vocabulary, character and line work tell you that this new mural is a challenge BustArt was more than ready for.
wants to shout out his mate @sket185 for the enormous help, the folks at @yesandpro who orchestrated along with Urban Nation, and we all
give thanks to photographer Nika Kramer for sharing her work here with BSA readers.
When Jan Sauerwald, Urban Nation’s Artistic Director, began making plans in earnest for the new facade for the museum, he was pondering what the art on the walls should convey. Given the difficult Covid-inflicted times we are living in he thought that possibly something fun and humorous was what Berlin needed. Indeed, humor has the power to provide levity, but humor is also an exceptionally effective vehicle to impart knowledge and spread a positive message without appearing to be lecturing.
So it seemed most appropriate to gift the denizens of Berlin a fresh, humorous new mural, especially considering that collectively, the whole city had just endured months of lockdown, and they are just now slowly coming out to play outdoors and drink some beers with friends in the parks. Luckily Sauerwald knew who to call. Dave The Chimp. A Berlin-based artist, illustrator, and skateboarder who is known on the streets of Berlin for his simple but street-smart orange characters shaped like a bean. He calls them “Human Beans”.
We reached out to Dave The Chimp and asked him a few questions about the artists he invited to paint along with him and about his experience being able to get up and to get dirty again on the streets.
BSA: How did it feel to get up after the lockdown? How was the experience of working outdoors for the first time in many weeks?
DtC: I don’t work outside often. My work practice is constantly changing, sometimes painting, sometimes drawing comics or creating skateboard graphics, writing the text for zines, and in the past, I’ve organized costumed wrestling parties, played in a punk band, directed pop videos and tv commercials, compiled books… painting outside is just one of a constantly changing set of fun problems to solve!
I personally enjoyed the lockdown. I started meditating again, I was stretching and doing yoga and working out almost every day. Sitting on my balcony in the April sun, reading, catching up on all the movies I don’t have time to watch, helping plug the gaps in my son’s education, trying new recipes. All my projects and exhibitions were canceled so I figured “ok, guess I’m on holiday for a few months, so let’s forget about work”. I realized that this was a very unusual time, so why would I try and carry on with my usual life?
Germany locked-down early. Berlin was quick to organize an emergency fund for freelance workers, so most were able to receive money that meant they could survive a few months without worry. This lessened the fear. Fear shuts down the immune system, and during a pandemic, the one thing you need is a strong immune system!
It was great to come out of the lockdown here and be straight on a worksite, mingling with people, getting dirty, laying in the street. After two months of washing my hands constantly, it was fascinating to feel just how grimy I get just living a normal life! We’re a bunch of filthy little monkeys!
BSA:UN invited you to paint the UN facade for the first time. In turn, you invited four artists to join you. What were your criteria for inviting the other artists?
DtC: Due to Corona, the new museum exhibition had to be delayed until September. They had planned to paint the facade for this exhibition with other artists, so had the city permit to put the lift in the street at the end of May. The crisis has meant that all government offices are running slowly, and a new permit wouldn’t be possible until early 2021. Jan called me and asked me if I could paint the facade two weeks before work had to begin!
The first idea was for me to paint it with Flying Fortress, but unfortunately, he wasn’t available. This sowed the idea of working with others in my mind and I figured “if it would have been fun painting with one friend, why don’t I invite four?” I chose people I like, and whose work I like, and that I could see working with the theme I wanted to portray on the wall.
Originally I had a team of two boys and two girls, but one of the girls wasn’t available, and I couldn’t find another making the kind of thing I needed. Luckily my friend Matt Jones had recently sent me a zine of his doodles, and I saw how some of these could work as a kind of ancient alien language etched into my Stone Henge “stargate”. I invited Mina to paint her powerful females as prehistoric rock paintings, got my skateboard buddy Humble Writerz to chisel the faces he bombs in the streets into stone columns, and had Señor Schnu paste his posters onto boulders. And then I added my own characters so it looked like they were doing all of this work! 😉
BSA: The mural has a playful tone to it which goes well with your character but it also has a message of a team effort in order to build a better world. Is that right?
DtC: I’m pretty sure we don’t need to use fear and anger to change the world. As PiL said, anger is an energy, but I’ve learned that it’s one that is soon burnt out. Much better to try and make the world a better place with love as your fuel. There’s an endless supply of love in all of us. Political action doesn’t need to always be a raised fist, a black, red, and white stenciled shout at the world. Why can’t protests be a fun day out, just like a festival, a carnival of change?
BSA: Can you tell us about the genesis of the concept for the mural? Did you have a brainstorming session with the other artists or did you know what you wanted and just told them your idea and they jumped into action?
DtC: I pretty much see complete ideas in my head. I knew I wanted to paint rocks, and I knew the work of the artists I wanted to paint with. And I had a week to work out the design of an 8 meter high by 50-meter long wall, with three doors, six windows, various corners, and parts inaccessible by the lift! I didn’t have time for brainstorming! I came up with concepts, told the artists what it was I’d like them to do, and then trusted them to do their thing. I had way too many things to think about – five artists with different schedules, a lift that took 20 minutes to move each time, and three days when we were not allowed to use the lift, created an organizational nightmare! Plus I had to try and paint huge structures that I’d never painted before, and 25 characters, all doing different things. But that’s kinda what I like. Painting is setting myself problems, then trying to solve them. It’s fun! If I know what I’m doing, how exactly to do something, and how it will turn out, in advance, then it just becomes work. Better to keep yourself on your toes, make it play!
BSA: Where do you see public murals/outdoor murals going after Covid-19 and the worldwide protests about racial injustice, racism, and police brutality?
DtC: I’ve always thought of graffiti and street art as a political act. It is a reclaiming of the commons. In our cities only those with the money to buy the walls around us – public space – get to have a voice. Advertising is designed to make you require more, to feel like what you have, who you are, is not enough. This is psychological oppression and we are exposed to it thousands of times a day. If we can use walls to make people feel less than, can’t we also use them to feel greater than, to inspire, to cheer, or just simply to help people be satisfied that they are ok? Like Picasso, I believe art can be a weapon to wage war. Bad people win when good people stay silent.
I have been known to make political work and to use a lot of slogans and messages in my work, but right now, in 2020, I find that I am overwhelmed with things that need to be spoken about, with things that are being spoken about, and, frankly, I don’t feel able to speak. Things are changing so quickly. It’s all too confusing. So I am trying to keep my use of words to a minimum, and to try and communicate on a more subtle level. The rocks in this mural represent our belief in the human-built structures and systems of life. The scaffolding, the planks and ropes, represent just how fragile all these systems are, as we have been seeing, and show our need to work together to make life function.
A mural like this couldn’t have been made without a huge network of people. The group of artists I worked with, the production crew at YAP, the lift hire guys, the factory workers that made the brushes, the chemists who brewed the paint, the people that built the wall, the people that cooked our lunch, the people that farmed the food for our lunch, the people that made the bikes we rode to the site every day, that built the roads we rode on… thousands of people are involved in every single human action.
The world is a crazy place right now, and it’s important to remember that we’re all in this together. Maybe it’s better we stop finding ways to divide ourselves, and instead unite.
Since most of us are
quarantined at home right now, arts and cultural institutions have been
challenging themselves to devise new programming that can be engaged with in
virtual ways. Some of them require you to join in a meeting or event, others
Urban Nation Museum of Urban Contemporary Art in Berlin, like most museums, has been forced to close its doors for the near future, but they still want to give you an opportunity to walk through the exhibition with a warm and informative guide who also understands critical thinking.
It’s a difficult task to give a tour to a guest when you cannot see them, but Markus Georg has a disarming natural way of describing his ideas so that you definitely feel sometimes like you are there with him looking at the studio art by many of today’s graffiti and Street Artists. We were particularly thrilled to see him talk about the Swoon piece because we brought her to Berlin as UN curators in 2015, and this was the collaged menagerie of her imagery made for that show.
Jan Sauerwald’s enthusiasm for the urban art scene dates back at least to his own experience on the street in the 1990s, and he knows what a special challenge it is for youth and families to be cooped up inside. As a cultural manager in Berlin for many years and today as Urban Nation’s Director, Mr. Sauerwald is especially pleased that the museum can offer an unhindered opportunity to see the works on display.
We asked him a few questions about the new video.
Brooklyn Street Art:What gave you the idea to have a virtual tour of the museum? Jan Sauerwald: It is an unfortunate development that the museum and all the excellent works by different artists won’t be available for the visitors for such a long time period. It is pretty sad for an educational art institution like ours, so we were thinking hard about alternatives and we decided to implement an online tour to deliver easy access for all groups of interested people. We want them to feel like they are having a unique experience that is similar to the real thing as possible.
Brooklyn Street Art:Can you tell us a little about the guide who is helping us become familiar with the works? Jan Sauerwald: Markus Georg is an experienced art mediator and tour guide. We have worked with him on other projects as well and we are very glad that he responded very quickly to our call to produce the digital tour through the museum. Speed is everything when it comes to mounting such a project in these times.
Brooklyn Street Art: What is one of the works you find most interesting? Jan Sauerwald: One of my favorite works is the London Police painting in the exhibition. London Police do give us a lot of inspiration with their view of a fantastic and futuristic, but always friendly world. If our future could be like that – a friendly coexistence of men and machines- then I think it could I would be glad about that.
The Egyptians did it. The Greeks
did it. The Romans did it. Your favorite dive bar has it. The punk club CBGBs was
famous for it, so is Urban Spree in Berlin. It’s worldwide, ancient and
contemporary. Crude, rude, vulgar, vapid, poetic, gestural, artistic,
We’re talking of course of the
practice of writing graffiti in the bathroom. Few know that the museum Urban
Nation actively encourages the furtive aesthetic expressions of visitors. Here
is a survey of the ephemeral graffiti actions caught in progress.
The moment you think you understand the street is the moment you begin to lose touch. Behavior on social media is also about as reliable as your Uncle Oscar after he’s had a few too many frosted rum balls and rosy red holiday cocktails. First, he’s twirling Aunt Marge to the Beatles on the living room rug, next thing he’s headbanging with your cousin Teddy to Bon Jovi on the back porch – and later you regrettably see him getting his freak on with a Missy Elliott classic as he waits his turn at the pool table in the basement.
So we rely on the numbers to tell us what is popular with our readers, and not surprisingly, you like everything! Little tiny stickers, massive murals, 3-D sculptural elements, even Lizzo running for president. These are the top ten pieces that got retweeted, shared on Instagram, commented about on Facebook and read about on the site. It’s not scientific, and it’s skewed through the lens of BSA’s POV, but these hottest pieces are still an indicator of the sentiments and tastes of fans on social; sophisticated, insightful, critical, dark mooded, conscious and funny AF. You’re just our type!
November was “Native American Heritage Month” in the US and has been since 1990 and ironically the growing right-wing extremism of the intervening decades appears to have further erased our collective knowledge of native peoples – so it’s the perfect time to find this new campaign of local natives on the streets of New York by Street Artist LMNOPI.
9. Abe Lincoln Jr. & Maia Lorian. A Presidential Parody
The public takeover of ‘street furniture’ and advertising kiosks continues as artists demand back the mindspace and public space that is sold or given to corporate advertisers or propagandizers. This duo brings complementary skills to the old phone booths with their own brand of political satire.
8. Okuda & Bordalo II Collaboration in Madrid.
This Frankenstein duet on the streets of Madrid caught our eye this spring and you liked it too. By Spain’s Okuda and Portugal’s Bordalo II. Madrid, March 2019.
7. Oak Oak in Bayonne, France.
A small stencil in Bayonne, France from Oak Oak resonates in its cheerful satire of pompous crass man-boys with bombs.
6 Lula Goce for NRNY Artsy Murals /Street Art For Mankind
The Swan and the falcon depicted on the mural are actual residents of New Rochelle. They came and liked what they saw and decided to stay and raise their families there. A fitting real story as New Rochelle is a town where immigrants are welcomed and are an important part of the community.
5. I Heart Graffiti “Lizzo for President”
A campaign for singer/songwriter/ rapper Lizzo capitalized on the stars meteoric rise in 2019 to the top of many charts. Considering the number of Democratic challengers on the debate stages this summer and fall, it seemed plausible that she was actually running. If she promised Americans to help the poor and working-class yet assured her corporate donors to screw them once in office, she could get elected too.
4. Judith Supine’s Luxury Cowboy/girl Ad Take Over
The brilliant collage surrealist Judith Supine was back with a new lasso this year, skillfully misleading audiences on the street with his free associations equating luxury fashion brands and 20th-century cancer product advertising. It’s a match made in Hell!. Welcome!
3 Nafir at Urban Spree in Berlin
Iranian Street Arist Nafir left this Instagram alienation indictment hanging in a hidden spot at Berlin’s Urban Spree playground this year, and for some reason, it struck a chord with many.
Do you want to talk about it? We’re not joking about suicide.
2. “Outings Project” for Urban Nation Museum in Berlin
It began as a way of bringing fine art pieces from inside the museum to the Street, and “The Outings Project” has brought hundreds of artworks out into the daylight this way for a decade or so, thanks to French artist Julien de Casabianca. These particular dark angels have been cast out of heaven and are just about to hit the ground across the street from Urban Nation Museum, Berlin.
1. Sara Lynne-Leo struck a chord with her pain commentary on the streets of NYC
A relative newcomer to the streets in New York, Sara Lynne-Leo keeps her small scale pieces well-placed, if your eyes are open. A comedian and social observer, her character’s pains and insecurities are played out in magnified emotional tableaus that quickly capture the severity and make light of it at the same time. This one must have really captured the zeitgeist of a troubled time across modern societies, where one pretends a wound is made bearable with an optimistic sunny perspective, even if the situation may be life-threatening.
That’s how curator Yasha Young began the UN Biennale in Berlin this month. A fantasy-infused ramble through a future jungle teeming with dark pop goth and an animated gorilla, the multi-featured installation by the outgoing Creative Director was meant to pose questions about a possible future, or many possible futures on an Earth deeply scarred, reclaiming itself from man/womankind’s folly.
Spread along a 100-meter path and teeming with small surprise exhibits popping from the savage magic of two-day overgrowth, the installation appeared to take inspiration, at least in part, from the wildly successful Berlin exhibition two years ago called, “The Haus”, by a trio called Die Dixons. That one featured 175 artists creating immersive, site-specific futurist/fantasy installations on the five floors of a former bank – inviting dance troops and performances and thousands who cued for hours around the block.
One of artists at UN’s “ROBOTS AND RELICS: UN-MANNED”, Herakut, was also in the Haus exhibition and here under the roaring U-Bahn on Bülowstraße produces one of the best synthesis of technology and fantasy. Their sculptural painted theatrical character of Mother Nature is straight from a childs’ imagination, blinking eyes forming a blue inquisitive aura around its visage.
No doubt many visitors winding through this late summer wildness were feeling quizzical to one another, confronting the various staged scenarios by 27 artists and asking “what if…”. Perhaps a lush and greener version of the traveling “29 Rooms” selfie house we saw in Brooklyn a few years ago, this one blended themes of post-disaster with a glistening dark leafy future girded with idiosyncracies and Hans Ruedi Giger airbrushed human/machines locked in biomechanical reverie.
carry us off into barren deserts with relics of human existence,” says the
press release, “colorfully patterned
animals in overgrown areas as well as spherical light worlds.”
Welcome to Images of the Week! Go outside! Take your recycled bag with you because New York just outlawed plastic bags as of March 2020, so you can get in the habit now. This week most of our images come from the Urban Art holy city of Berlin, which we visited for a few days. Next stop, Querétaro, Mexico! Vamos!
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Berlin Kidz, Herakut, Homo Punk Action, Lapiz, Lister, Marina Zumi, Mr. June, Nafir, Nespoon, Nils Westergardt, Ostap, Pink Pony, 1UP Crew and Snik.
It was a name used by my mother when I was growing up,” says the British Street Artist as he talks about his new mural for Urban Nation in Berlin. “She used to call my sister Fanny Fanakapan – it was just sort of a term of endearment,” he says.
It’s a cold/rainy/sunny/windy/calm Monday and we’re in the thick of Aprilwetterhere at the end of March, and Fannakapan is stirring old memories to recall his entirely unusual name for Nika Kramer, the photographer who has captured these shots.
“I know there was this song made in wartime by a lady named Gracie Fields about a useless man named Fred Fanakapan, he says. “So it’s been stuck in my head from a very early age. I always had tag names that were sort of something to do with my family – like the name I had before this was TRIPE because my granddad used to say “that’s a load of tripe!” – which refers to a cow’s stomach.”
The new mural, part of the ongoing “One Wall” program by UN, features his signature chrome texture – this time as a heart shaped balloon. He tells Nika why he’s positioned the cartoon character Snoopy, based on the Charles Schultz comic strip, looking quizzically at his own reflection in the balloon.
He says that with this mural he is actually giving a tribute to his own dog, which he credits with giving him love and support during a tough time in his life.
is kind of dedicated to her. At the time I was quite unhappy and she cheered me
right up so basically I say that I believe in dog. I called the piece “Believe
talks more about the two dimensional dog quizzically gazing up at the balloon
and points out that the background is taken directly form the location. “I took the
photographs next to the wall so it’s reflecting the trees and the buildings
around it. When I do that I think it always makes the
local people appreciate it more to see their street reflected in something.”
Our special thanks to Nika Kramer for sharing her talents with BSA readers here.
now lets sit down to the Victrola to listen to the original song
about Fred Fannakapan by that inimitable Lancaster lassie, Ms. Gracie Fields.
“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.