Blogging from Germany: Street Expression

I looked in vain for the knitted graffiti that I saw on a lamp post off Luisenring last year, but it was gone. I swear it's true, knitted graffiti is an actual thing.

But there was plenty of other stuff to keep me busy. Like this giant foot sculpture near the Alte Feuer Wache...someone's painted its toenails. And with real nail varnish. You can't see, but the second toe is painted yellow with black polka dots :)

Franz Kafka has my life or has my liver, depending on whether you read it as leben or leber. 
I'd go with liver.

I just like this because it appropriates the drain or plug or whatever that knobby thing is.

Yeah, baby. Don't be cheap. Hey, you!

What's not to love. We are the revolution. We are the alternative. But...We are the 99% (ya think?)

Random acts of street expression. I forget why I liked these...

...perhaps 'cause of its by-one by-two vibe....

...perhaps 'cause this looks like a man about to free himself from gravity

...as for this! It's pretty clear :)

This is the shop where Zui got a tattoo...

This has got to be an Indian boy...(or Turkish?)

We oughtn't to be...but sometimes we are ;(

Just the way I feel, oftentimes....

The Family (unintended) Style Mantra

Ok, he's not Bansky, but still...

What can I say?!

Basking in the sunlight, the concrete cats near the Collini Centre that Kai and Mia played on...

I saw this on many walls - MOIS BOYS. A band? Brothers? Mummy's Boys??

Oh ya, Anna Shanice is going to love this.

Compare this to the ghastly efforts of the Karnataka government. From faux Hoysala art to oceans and dolphins and camels and pillars and trees and Yakshagana dancers. Insanity in the guise of aesthetics.   And this to either prevent our walls and metros from being covered with posters or from being pissed on. I'd go with the piss. I must not omit "God tiles" which require a entire post of their own. For those not familiar with God tiles, these are literally just that. Ceramic tiles with images of various deities or religious symbols - Ganesha, Infant Jesus, Shiva, the Ka'aba - to prevent men pissing on walls. Women don't piss on walls. 

But seriously, haven't we more bollocks? More imagination? Must it be a choice between piss, God tiles and hideous paintings? 

Germany has laws against graffiti and if caught, you stand to pay a heavy penalty. Yet graffiti abounds.

I asked some young boys who were waiting to watch Boy with a Suitcase/Der Junge Mit Dem Koffer what they thought about graffiti. Here is what 14 year old Nicolas Reichenbach said: "Sometime graffiti is meaningless and just makes the city look dirty. But a lot of the time, it is beautiful...a  work of art. And it tells of a history and of an alternative opinion. Like the East Side Gallery in Berlin, where it is really beautiful..."

Image from East Side Gallery, Berlin
One of the Schnawwl ensemble actors is a graffiti artist from Heidelberg and his street name is SweetUno. Last year he developed a play for young people called Sky is the Limit. 

18 year old Lea Zillich says "It is about a graffiti artist who has a bad time at home. He doesn't fit in, but when he sprays he feels free, that he can be who he wants to be. In the play he talks with his little brother, about his life, about spraying. Eventually he gets caught and it ends with him not doing anymore illegal spraying. But it's not a play that is against graffiti..." At this moment, 20 year old Lisa Koenen pipes in to say "Like SweetUno. He only sprays in legal spaces now. For instance it is illegal to spray on trains..." Lea says that in her home town, Constanze, there are walls under bridges that are dedicated to legal spraying. Tonight SweetUno has a show on at the Altefeuerwache. He says "This is away from the whole legal/illegal thing. It's about Tags, Throw Ups and Kicks, the basics of graffiti text. We're working on furthering our outlines and hand styles..."

Come in to SweetUno's show

Lea and Lisa both feel that graffiti can be really great, but it's the random acts of kids who want to be cool that "look like stupid gobs of spit" that they don't like. "Like the spraying of a green line alongside a beautiful historic building..." said Lea. But they're not offended by graffiti. Lisa also said that one piece of "ugly art" may be just that, but when a group of kids make a bunch of "ugly art" it becomes something else and eventually will have a meaning and reference. For instance, Lisa feels if there was no graffiti, if all the walls were blank "...the walls of the city would be quiet and the voices of young people would be stilled...sometime when you pass a wall, you feel like it is screaming out the feeling of the artist...when I go by train to Hamburg, I have to smile when I see a new graffiti...just the hmm..hmm. of the train...then when you see a graffiti it is like a light among the grey of the walls...like when you see flowers in a park..."

Lea "On the train to Berlin...there are building with no windows at all...brick buildings and they are covered with graffiti...I have no words for it....so beautiful"

Lisa: "....and when they are really high or really low in the water...I wonder how did they do it? It's dangerous...did they climb so high, swim into the water?"

Lea: '"...sometime I think, ok, so they wrote on a wall, so what. Then I look closer...it gives you a feeling....today, when the news and media...everything is so bad...a plane crashes and you think oh, another plane crashed. There are not many things that touch you anymore....sometimes graffiti touches me"

Lisa: "....but I hate it when they make swastikas on church walls. My sister studied in Mannheim Art and during a showing of her work, a lady from the city came and asked her if she would paint the city electric boxes. So she started this work in August..."

Let me leave you with more pictures from the East Side Gallery Berlin and from SweetUno....

Image from East Side Gallery, Berlin
Image from East Side Gallery, Berlin
By SweetUno
By SweetUno

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