URBAN NATION has launched an exhibition to address mental health concerns and issues in today’s society. The exhibit was prompted by feedback from museum visitors, who were asked to suggest topics that needed to be discussed. UN reports that the majority of responses focused on mental health, and the exhibit is a response to this concern.
The featured artworks explore emotions and modern life’s stress on mental health. One of the main issues addressed in the exhibit is loneliness. The COVID-19 pandemic only worsened feelings of isolation and disconnectedness; with more people, particularly young people, reporting that they were experiencing anxiety, depression, and self-harm, often compounded by social media.
The exhibition Loneliness and Other False Friends is part of the M series that began a decade ago, now in its 19th edition, or Project M/19. Associated with the main museum’s current exhibition Talking… & Other Banana Skins aims to raise awareness of mental health issues and spark conversations about this critical topic. By showcasing these artworks, visitors are encouraged to reflect on their own experiences and the experiences of others, perhaps spurring meaningful discussions of a deeper quality.
As is often the case with the community-centered vision and voice of UN lead curator Michele Houston, the exhibit is an excellent opportunity to learn about mental health and how it affects individuals and society. Through transference and reflection, the exhibition may catalyze analysis of topics that are often elusive to describe or quantify, in this case providing visitors tools to countenance the emotional toll that modern life can take on people, raising awareness of the importance of mental health.
PROJECT M/19 LONELINESS AND OTHER FALSE FRIENDS URBAN NATION Project Space BÜLOWSTR. 97, 10783 BERLIN EXHIBITION DURATION: 28 APRIL 2023 – 18 AUGUST 2023
ACCOMPANYING THE EXHIBITION On the occasion of the ceremonial opening of LONELINESS AND OTHER FALSE FRIENDS and in conjunction with Gallery Weekend, URBAN NATION presents a programme beyond the exhibition. 5 Berlin-based artists will create new murals, to join what is collectively called the C-Walls (Community Walls). Each will reflect the exhibition theme on and around Bülowstraße. PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: CARO PEPE, DEVITA, HONEY BEEBS, LAKE AND MATE.
The exhibition serves as a space for public discourse, conversations, and workshops. Event highlights include a mural design with artist Honey Beebs in collaboration with the Anna Freud School. In addition, there is the art workshop “Talk about it” with artist Fehmi Baumbach and photographer Darius Ramazani in partnership with Freunde fürs Leben e.V. for children in grades 11 to 13.
Inside the exhibition, there is a large seating area where visitors are encouraged to engage with the works and receive further reading material on mental health topics.
Bülowstrasse 7 10783 Berlin Germany firstname.lastname@example.org
Click HERE for more details, hours of operation, tickets, etc.
Happy Holidays! We’re celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of the next by thanking BSA readers, friends, and family for all of your support in 2022. We have selected some of our favorite shots by our Editor of Photography, Jaime Rojo, and we’re sharing a new one every day to celebrate all our good times together, our hope for the future, and our love for the street.
In an era where the monster mural can envelop an entire building or set of grain elevators, we are reminded that placement is everything. This year the UK street artist JPS left a number of small pieces in Berlin – just in the right place to catch your eye. This ingenious miniature box truck with a KLOPS tag appears on the riser of some steps in the Schöneberg neighborhood. It is evocative of a child’s imagination, which leads them into all sorts of adventures.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening: 1. URBAN NATION 2022 – “Talking… & Other Banana Skins” – on FWTV 2. Flower Punk”- Azuma Makoto 3. JR: Can Art Change the World?
BSA Special Feature: URBAN NATION 2022 – “Talking… & Other Banana Skins” – on FWTV
In his first official visit back to Urban Nation since its opening in 2017, Fifth Wall host Doug Gillen finds a more democratic collection of artists from various points in the street art/urban art constellation. That impression is understandable due to the heavy presence of commercial interests involved in the selection of bankable street art stars and OGs chosen to represent five decades of graffiti/street art at the opening of a new institution dedicated to the scene. Curators were careful to program several relative unknowns and lesser-recognized artists into that initial grab-bag collection, but we take the point.
It’s refreshing to hear the current show’s curator Michelle Houston speak about her personal and professional philosophy toward street art and our collective relationship to it. A hybrid of the existing UN permanent collection and new works, it comes off as a rather wholistic approach that respects more players and their contribution to what has proven to be a very democratic grassroots art movement on streets around the world.
With decidedly less focus on the ever-more codified, commodified, and blue-chip-ivy-league-endorsed criterion of exclusivity that plagues the ‘art world’, this varied collection may represent a retaining wall against trends we witness that threaten to erect the same sort of structures of exclusivity that unbridled art-in-the-streets set out to destroy. Of course, every modern counterculture eventually gets transformed on its way to accepted culture, and we’re somewhat resigned to that reality. However rather than zapping the life out of the free-wheeling nature of graffiti and street art, Urban Nation may be staking a claim of departure from peers to defend some of those original tenets – in this insistently self-defining scene.
And speaking of every modern counterculture that eventually gets transformed on its way to accepted culture, we present the Punk Florist, artist Azuma Makoto, who uses plants in a sculptural manner. It is a practice that he hopes can connect humanity and nature. It may help if you are listening to Dead Kennedys or Black Flag – or perhaps something more industrial, or no-wave. But when he and his team send a ragged bundle of beauty literally into space, all bets are off. It’s a new game.
The original Berlin Kid, if you will, Mr. Paradox is rappelling down the side of a building again, this time in broad daylight instead of surreptitiously in the darkness of night. It’s part of an initiative by Urban Nation museum and he’s happy to bring the stylized vertical letters that have set his work apart from others – something he refers to as ‘spiritual letters’. He’s his own man, independent, fearless, creative and talented.
“I have always followed my truth-seeker spirit,” he says, “setting my visions higher.”
The saturated red and blue lettering have evolved over time, but his technique has stayed the same for the last decade or so – a style many first compare to Pixaçao. It’s an often dangerous technique of graffiti lettering associated with the aerosol daredevils on the streets of cities like Sao Paulo – but that has also spread to cities like Paris, Berlin and New York.
“I don’t do Pixaçao,” Mr. Paradox tells BSA. “I do a highly advanced form of lettering that I call spiritual letters. I want to deliver art and beauty to the street – and of course to deliver critical messages about the system we live in and life in general.”
And what about the distinctive combination of blue and red colors? “They are like fire and water,” he says. “Like good and evil. Also people recognize me because of it.”
Special thanks to photographer Nika Kramer, who captures and shares these exclusive shots with BSA readers of Mr. Paradox’s installation.
Mr. Paradox’s text (above):
BRAIN WASHED PLANET: THE ELITE IS THE VIRUS ! THIS IS FOR ALL CRITICAL THINKERS UNLOCK THE MYSTERIES OF LIFE ESCAPE THE MAINSTREAM GOVERNMENT HIDES THE TRUTH THEY ARE HOLDING BACK TECHNOLOGY
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.
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.
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.