All posts tagged: Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art

“Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures”. Installation and Opening Night Shots.

“Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures”. Installation and Opening Night Shots.

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.

Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. Mick La Rock and Falk. The Livestream hosts. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. Stiftung Berliner Leben President, Dr. Hans-Michael Brey, Urban Nation Museum Executive Director, Jan Sauerwald and, Gewobag CEO, Markus Terboven. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Artist and photographer Petra Branke. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. SETH Mural inspired by one of Martha’s Photos from her book Street Play. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. SETH Mural inspired by one of Martha’s Photos from her book Street Play. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. (photo © Nika Kramer)
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BSA Film Friday: 10.02.20

BSA Film Friday: 10.02.20

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

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“Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” – Sneak Peek at the Book

“Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” – Sneak Peek at the Book

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

Opening weekend

Opening:

Friday, October 2nd, 2020: 8 – 11 pm

Extended opening hours:

Saturday, October 3, 2020: 10 am – 10 pm

Sunday, October 4, 2020: 10 am – 8 pm

URBAN NATION Museum, Bülowstrasse 7, Berlin-Schöneberg

Livestream Opening Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures

Click HERE for more details about the exhibition.

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SETH Completes Indoor Mural for “Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” at Urban Nation Berlin

SETH Completes Indoor Mural for “Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” at Urban Nation Berlin

With less than one week to go before the opening of our exhibition MARTHA COOPER: TAKING PICTURES at Urban Nation Museum in Berlin the installation of the exhibition is well underway. Under the watchful eye and guidance of Michelle Houston and her team at YAP (Yes And Productions), the 400 printed photos, 1400 digital photos, 260 collected artifacts, 35 artists original artworks, one commissioned indoor mural, one new 24-video environmental installation, 10 black books, journals, passports, SIM cards, 8 audio voice recordings, a huge stickerboard, and a timeline covering 1943-2020 are all being installed throughout the entire museum.

Seth Globepainter. Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin. (photo @Michelle Nimpsch /YAP)

A career retrospective, this one has been carefully planned with a rich offering of items for those who love photography, those who are avid fans of graffiti and street art, those who are scholars of the art forms and practices in public space, and for the families with kids who are looking to spend an afternoon being entertained and educated.

Seth Globepainter. Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin. (photo @Michelle Nimpsch /YAP)

One highlight of the exhibition will be the brand new two-story high site-specific indoor mural by French artist SETH, who has created a new interpretation of one of Martha’s photographs from the 1970s, effectively bridging two of the ten sections of the exhibition entitled “Street Play” and “Martha Remixed”.

Seth’s photo of Martha Cooper when he and she collaborated on a project series in Haiti recently. © SETH

SETH understands Martha’s long time interest in photographing kids creating their own world with their imaginations, their own games, play-acting out scenarios in public space in city streets and empty lots. Photos in the exhibition from Haiti bridge several visits Martha made there, first in 1978 and recently in 2018 – this most recent visit with SETH to collaborate on a project with one another.

We wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise for you but we would like to share with you a handful of detail shots of the mural in progress. We’ll unveil the original photo and the full mural on October 2nd.

Seth Globepainter. Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin. (photo @Michelle Nimpsch /YAP)

You are invited to the Official Opening of “Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures”, which will be streamed LIVE online and have all sorts of special guests and feature a tour of the exhibition, interviews, and documentary material with Martha herself – beginning at 8 pm Berlin time Friday, October 2nd.

Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures
Curated by Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo

Opening weekend

Opening:

Friday, October 2nd, 2020: 8 – 11 pm

Extended opening hours:

Saturday, October 3, 2020: 10 am – 10 pm

Sunday, October 4, 2020: 10 am – 8 pm

URBAN NATION Museum, Bülowstrasse 7, Berlin-Schöneberg

https://urban-nation.com/livestream-martha-cooper-taking-pictures/

Click HERE for more details about the exhibition.

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Urku Abstractly / One Wall Project / Urban Nation Berlin

Urku Abstractly / One Wall Project / Urban Nation Berlin

A fresh face at Urban Nation, the abstract muralist URKU has just completed the façade across the train tracks from the museum on Bulowstrasse.

Urku. One Wall Project. Urban Nation Berlin. September 2020. (photo © Nika Kramer)

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.

Urku. One Wall Project. Urban Nation Berlin. September 2020. (photo © Nika Kramer)

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.

Urku. One Wall Project. Urban Nation Berlin. September 2020. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Urku. One Wall Project. Urban Nation Berlin. September 2020. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Urku. One Wall Project. Urban Nation Berlin. September 2020. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Urku. One Wall Project. Urban Nation Berlin. September 2020. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Urku. One Wall Project. Urban Nation Berlin. September 2020. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Urku. One Wall Project. Urban Nation Berlin. September 2020. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Urku. One Wall Project. Urban Nation Berlin. September 2020. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Urku. One Wall Project. Urban Nation Berlin. September 2020. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Urku. One Wall Project. Urban Nation Berlin. September 2020. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Urku. One Wall Project. Urban Nation Berlin. September 2020. (photo © Nika Kramer)
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European Month Of Photography 2020 in Berlin Features “Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” Exhibition at UN

European Month Of Photography 2020 in Berlin Features “Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” Exhibition at 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).

Martha Cooper: 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.

#emopberlin

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.

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Stohead Sends De-Constructed Letterforms Across a Structure : UN “One Wall” Project

Stohead Sends De-Constructed Letterforms Across a Structure : UN “One Wall” Project

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.  

Stohead paints a One Wall for Urban Nation Museum in Berlin. (Photo © Nika Kramer)

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.

Stohead paints a One Wall for Urban Nation Museum in Berlin. (Photo © Nika Kramer)
Stohead paints a One Wall for Urban Nation Museum in Berlin. (Photo © Nika Kramer)
Stohead paints a One Wall for Urban Nation Museum in Berlin. (Photo © Nika Kramer)
Stohead paints a One Wall for Urban Nation Museum in Berlin. (Photo © Nika Kramer)
Stohead paints a One Wall for Urban Nation Museum in Berlin. (Photo © Nika Kramer)
Stohead paints a One Wall for Urban Nation Museum in Berlin. (Photo © Nika Kramer)
Stohead paints a One Wall for Urban Nation Museum in Berlin. (Photo © Nika Kramer)
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BSA Film Friday 07.24.20

BSA Film Friday 07.24.20

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

“Cities have 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.

MurOne’s new 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.

“I believe 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 actions.”

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“Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” : Retrospective Opens This October at Urban Nation Museum in Berlin

“Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” : Retrospective Opens This October at Urban Nation Museum in Berlin


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. 

Combining photographs 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 photographer.

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.

Martha’s photographs 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, Dondi.

A multi-channel 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 the museum.

“We were 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 Museum.   

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. 

Exhibition curators 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.

1UP Crew Mural. Detail. Urban Spree, Berlin, 2017. Copyright Nika Kramer. 

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.

MARTHA COOPER: TAKING PICTURES
Exhibition Opening
Friday, October 2nd, 2020, 8 pm

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 pr@urban-nation.com

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Largest Piece by BustArt in Tegel, Berlin for Urban Nation

Largest Piece by BustArt in Tegel, Berlin for Urban Nation

Massive 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.

BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)

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.

BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)

Bustart also 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.

BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)
BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)
BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)
BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)
BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)
BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)
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Dave The Chimp @ Urban Nation Berlin: Love Is Fuel

Dave The Chimp @ Urban Nation Berlin: Love Is Fuel

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.

Dave The Chimp. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)

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!

Dave The Chimp, Mina, Señor Schnu, Matt Jones, and Humble Writerz. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)

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! 😉

Dave The Chimp. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)

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! 

Dave The Chimp. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)

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. 

Together we are stronger. 

Dave the Chimp. Berlin, Germany, June 2020

Dave The Chimp. Mina at work. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Matt Jones at work. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Humble Writerz. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Mina. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Señor Schnu. Matt Jones. Detail, Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Señor Schnu. Matt Jones, Mina. Detail.Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Señor Schnu. Matt Jones, Mina. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Señor Schnu. Matt Jones, Mina. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
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New Digital Video Tour Through The Urban Nation Museum in Berlin / Dispatch From Isolation # 30

New Digital Video Tour Through The Urban Nation Museum in Berlin / Dispatch From Isolation # 30

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 are self-directed.

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.


Enjoy the Digital tour through URBAN NATION

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