When a stranger invites you on a little adventure to hidden places that are potentially illegal to trespass, you should probably make the cautious and responsible decision: decline the offer. Me? I was like, “BRING IT ON MOTHERFUCKER!!”, and what happened next is very, very hard to put into words (or crappy pictures for what it’s worth).
Urban Art, Street Art, Graffiti — maybe even blunt Vandalism — is not just about spraying your name onto a wall. It’s a philosophy, one that is fascinating, refreshing, inspiring and rebellious, all at the same time. To witness urban evolution in Berlin is to document the changing colors on the walls, to discover new artworks in places where you’d never expect them. The challenge lies not exclusively in constructing the perfect artwork; it can also be the challenge to find the best spots to draw, sometimes in places that you’ll never notice unless you’re in the know..
And then there’s the complexity of deciding what is art and what is pure hackwork. What is graffiti? How is it supposed to look like? How do you decide what is good artwork and what is only the work of an amateur? Does it even matter at all?
Listening to the stories about street art (of my absolutely fantastic tour guide — an ‘urban native’, if you will, one who has even shook hands with Martha Cooper herself and collects the artworks of his fellow colleagues) was listening to the story behind Berlin. Suddenly, every picture, every mural, every painting made sense. The first step is difficult: you have to school your eyes. The city does not only consist of streets and buildings; it’s hidden spots, canals, secret pathways and virgin walls that want to be deflowered with paint. The second step is to be fearless of what is ahead and embrace what lies beneath.
We climbed: over fences and through bars, on bridges and in tunnels. Places I’ve walked so many times before; suddenly seen from an entirely different perspective. A perspective with a story. The story of the artists here in Berlin, of their ever lasting hunt for untouched places to leave their marks.
To conclude: I am overwhelmed. Doing this little trip was one of the most fantastic experiences I’ve ever had. And to imagine that a stranger just took me on without making a big fuss about its secrecy, is an attitude so typically Berlin itself. Everything is for everyone. All you have to do is embrace it.
(I only took my small p&s along. I’ve been finding myself torn between good pictures and not being hassled by having a camera wrapped around my neck. This one I was happy to sit out without the Eos, it would’ve hurt me seeing it as badly scratched as my Ixus)