Street Art in Berlin

After a 2-hour tour and a 3-hour workshop I felt I had gotten more out of Berlin than on the rest of the trip put together.

While we spent 4 days in Berlin, the best day for me was, without question, Wednesday. On the other days of the trip we visited companies and museums, that were all interesting. Notable are the visits to Lower East Lab, where we were introduced to the world of designers and working as a freelancer, and the visit to the Computerspielemuseum (Video Game Museum). The latter, mostly because we got to play PainStation; the greatest game I have ever played.
On Wednesday, however, we got to explore my long-time fascination: Street Art. I have always had a weakness for urban sub-cultures, such as breakdancing and street art, and getting to spend a few hours gaining insight into this world was just amazing.

The Tour

Before the tour started we were all split up into two groups. I decided to go with the Australian Ginger, whom shall remain nameless.

The Australian Ginger had mastered the amazing ability of incorporating the most obscure and hilarious references in his tour, making it feel like you were at a 2-hour stand-up comedy show, which just happened to be moving around the town of Kreuzberg near Berlin.
But let’s get back to subject at hand: Street Art.

Tags and Throwups

There are many different types of, let’s say graffiti. The simplest form of graffiti is tagging. Tagging is simply writing your signature on stuff. Of course, we’re not talking about your actual signature, but rather the signature for the handle you have chosen to use when writing on other people’s stuff. This tag should not take you more than two seconds, at most, to make. The more elaborate form of a tag is called a throw-up. Throw ups are characterised by the use of large, fat, and often outlined, letters. Also throw-ups are made using at least two colours, while tags are made using only one colour.
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Pieces and paste-ups

Moving on from tags and into the world of street art, it’s time to look at pieces. A piece is a detailed piece of art, much like a conventional painting, only made on walls in the public rather than in your private studio. Where tags and throw-ups take a few seconds or minutes, a piece can take hours or even days to finish. The result, however, is often well worth the effort.
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Some pieces, as in the case of the hanging animals, are done legally with support from companies or the city itself. This makes it possible to do elaborate pieces of art, that otherwise would have been extremely difficult to pull off, due to the location and/or the amount of time they require.

Some artists also use paste-ups. Rather than painting directly on the wall you use a paste made of flour, sugar and water (a detailed recipe can be found here: http://www.au.timeout.com/melbourne/art/features/2284/how-to-make-a-paste-up) and paste a piece of art, which you have prepared and printed from home, onto the wall. This opens up the possibility of posting a detailed piece in seconds.

Heaven Spots

Heaven spots have been named as such due to their locations. The idea is that getting the spot feels like heaven, but if you mess up and fall you go right back up to heaven. Heaven spots are any kind of street art done in a location that is both hard to reach and extremely hazardous to paint. Examples are bridges, freeway signs or the top of a building just below the roof. The case of the building, some crews would sneak into an apartment building, tie themselves to something secure and jump off the side of the building painting on the way down. This sometimes require several trips.
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As seen in the photo of the hanging animals piece, it is also common to see throw-ups along the edge of the roof. In these cases the artist would have probably been standing on the roof with a paint roller and painted their tag on the wall below. This would often mean having a spotting partner on the ground making sure your letters are the same height, as it is difficult to tell that when looking down from the roof.

On the tour we learned that the reason street art is so prevalent in Berlin is the dept the city undertook after the Cold War. The city simply cannot afford removing all the graffiti, and therefore all the tags, throwups, paste-ups, roll-ups and pieces get to stay, and have become a part of the Berlin streets. Especially in the city of Kreuzberg is Street Art prevalent, and this is one of the places that have gone on my must-visit list for whenever I find myself in the area.

The Stormtrooper

And now, at curtain call, I will leave you with my own graffiti masterpiece of a stormtrooper helmet. In a workshop after the tour we were told to make a stencil and then make a piece of art using this stencil. I couldn’t resist the power of the dark side.
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Text and photography by Dennis Jensen

Legal…? Well, sort of… – Urban Exploration in Berlin – Henrik

Ducking behind the bar, we hid, barley breathing to keep the silence. We could hear the footsteps coming closer. 2 German voices were speaking in rapid tones. Did they know where we are? Would they catch us? What would happen if they did?

CRUNCH. Creed, moving closer to the bar to hide his head, steps on a piece of old shattered glass. CRUNCH. Turning round to see the problem, I do the same. Shit.  We hear the german voices speak with a higher sense of anticipation than before, surely they know where we are now. Fight or flight – its hardwired in to every living organism on the planet. This was the time for flight. We stand up to run… 5 steps and turn round the corner – unknowingly right in to their arms. Shit.

They must have been the friendliest security guards in the world. Quite surprising, for men who kick people out of an abandoned theme park for a living. We had just been caught by the two resident security guards of Spreepark, an amusement park built in East Berlin in the times where the city was separated. The park has been shut since 2002, and has since been left to rot. An unbelievable notion, considering that the park is right by the river near the centre of town – the land must be worth a fortune.

The head honcho responsible for the thing at this time, Norbert Witte, legged it to Peru in 2002, along with his family and six of the park’s attractions, which, authorities naïvely believed, were to be repaired there. The fools.
Witte tried to open a funpark in Lima but failed, and in 2004 was jailed for seven years for attempting to smuggle €21 million worth of cocaine in the masts of the “Flying Carpet” ride back to Germany. There must be Irish blood in that family. Witte’s son was also jailed for drug smuggling (20 years) in 2006.

Spreepark, meanwhile, was left to rot among the trees and foliage of Plänterwald for more than 12 years, its roller-coasters rusty and neglected, buildings boarded up, and fun-rides left only for the birds, rats – and us – to enjoy.

Our main discovery was a large tent on the outskirts of the park. The place was discussing – soggy mattresses lined the mounds upon mounds of rubbish. This was once someones home. Maybe it still was, but when we went knocking there was thankfully nobody home!

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This was to be the only time I could get my tripod out, before we got caught. I was gutted that we got caught so quickly – the scope of things to photograph in the place was incredible. The security guards did let us take a slow walk to the front entrance, allowing us to stop for a couple of snaps along the way. They knew we would only be back, otherwise!

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The old ferris wheel still revolves slowly in the wind, as though the spirit of the park pushes it round. It wants to be ridden!

 

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I will be going back to Berlin for more urban exploration. There is so much to do there – Next up on the list is the old abandoned Iraqi embassy. Daym that sounds cool.

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The reason for the incresed security is some bugger snuck in and set a fire in the the picture above. Quite a lot of the surronding site was destroyed – not so cool!

 

 

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Fancy a swim? Amasing how nature can take over a place given time. The life in the pool was quite amasing – it sould as well have been a natural lake if you look in to the water. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Loch Ness Monster in there somewhere!

 

 

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Take only pictures. Leave only footprints.

 

//Henrik

You only live once.

On Kanststraße 70, fivehundred meters from our hostel was a bar called YOLO. The thing that took our intension was their picture of a waterpipe on the front. The bar was filled with colorful lights and the interior was cozy with modern furniture, behind the bar they had rowed up all their different liquors for show off, so you really got the feeling there was many different choices for your drinks. Even though it was an October evening, we were able to sit outside without freezing. The Outside furniture of YOLO was clearly inspired by Turkey-style, they had placed sofas and comfortable chairs, which was perfect for relaxing after a long bus ride and some delicious food we had earlier on a restaurant. YOLO’s menu had a lot of various drinks, shots and tastes to their waterpipes. We ordered a waterpipe for sharing, beers and shots, which was a perfect combination too cool off at the end of the arrival day. The employees was very kind and helpful and were talking a fine English. That was a really good start experience for an very awesome trip to Berlin.
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Berlin gør i sandhed vandretitlen som Europa’s kulturhovedstad til skamme – der er ingen over; og ingen i nærheden af Berlin hvad kulturel mangfoldighed angår.

Lige fra Charlottenburg med de store, lige gader, dekadente eksklusive restauranter og dyre forretninger der gør alt for at skjule den brogede kulturarv spækket med tragedier der generelt lurer bag de afpudsede facader over alt i Berlin.

En broget fortid der ses skinne igennem i form af Charlottenburger Tor, som en allegori fra en fortid – der efterhånden er gået fra at være en latent skamplet i ethvert tysk sind, til blot at være et monotomt og upåfaldende øjeblik i de tyske historietimer til nu at være en del af Berlins brand equity.

Omkring Berlins ikoniske bymidte ser man noget af det arkitektoniske arvegods fra den preussiske tid, der stod tilbage efter de allieredes bombninger af Berlin. I form af Museumsinsel opført på en tidligere oase i floden Spree. Berlins domkirke, som stod tilbage omringet af ruinerne af Kongeslottet og regeringsbygningen, og som i en årrække blev symbol på DDR’s armod grundet deres manglende villighed til at restaurere domkirken.

Ligeledes i Berlin Mitte står Under den Linden tilbage som et ikonisk ar fra strabadserne som Hitler førte det tyske folk igennem. En æstetisk perle i form af sine lindetræer der strækker sig langs boulevarden og munder ud ved Brandenburger Tor der stille og roligt i en tyske selvopfattelse er gået fra at være en erindring fra Det Tredje Riges mange parader til at være en blitz omsluttet turistattraktion.

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Allesammen arkæologiske perler der skinner igennem på Unescos liste over verdens kulturarv og åbenbarer en kulturarv fra den preussiske tid; der i en den danske ideologi burde huskes for andet end forladergeværer.

Ligeledes folder Berlin sig ud omkring Prenzlauer Berg i det gamle Østberlin med gamle bygninger, brede fortove, florerende alternativ kultur, og en eksplosion af cafeer.

Hvor den kulturelle mangfoldighed skinner igennem i et bybillede nærmest negligeret for store kosmopolitiske brands, som efterhånden har kuldkastet ethvert kulturelt særpræg i Europas andre storbyer.

Hvor simplificerede logo’er kun med genkendelighed for øje er erstattet af hyggelige kælder butikker, der spiller på klichen om at anden sorterings tøj kan påduttes betegnelsen second hand tøj, og dermed sælges til besøgende, der kun med egenhændige identitets skabende særpræg for øje, er villige til at søge ud i afkrogene af Berlin i deres søgen.

Den kulturelle mangfoldighed ses tydeligt ved Alexanderplatz, en plads skæmmet af bystyrets indblanding i 60’erne; hvilket resulterede i en stor, gold og uskøn plads, der dog på sin egen måde er et forfriskende, upoleret indslag  i den gennemgribende forskønnelse bystyret lavede i 60’erne i Berlin Mitte.

Her ses det florissante Street Art miljø på de kolde udtryksløse beton facader der med sin egen diffusitet prøver at bryde igennem den øredøvende sterilitet der ellers præger Alexanderplatz. Med kunstnere som Taosuz der med plakater baseret på antiteser forsøger at fremhæve et samfunds mæssigt tabubelagt emne som plakaterne herunder.

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Vandrer du rundt i Berlin længe nok, spotter du, en for mig at se lige så ikonisk artefaktor i det Berlinske gadebillede som de røde telefonbokse udgør i det engelske.

Et ikonisk analogt islæt i form af Photoautomaterne fra en tid før selfies havde gjort kameraet til en lavkomisk brik i jagten på selviscenesættelsen og viral tilstedeværelse. Lige fra blitzens ‘pop’ der bringer tanken hen mod dengang hvor blitzen ikke blot bestod af en banal led-pære, men derimod opstod ved antændelse af magnesiumpulver.

Til maskinens maniske snoren i op mod 5 min indtil billedet er fremkaldt som bringer tankerne tilbage til engang hvor hvert billede blev prioriteret, og der stod mere end blot tanken om selviscenesættelse bag. Det endelige resultat bringer så igen tanken hen mod nutidens sociale medier – Eller som jeg overhørte en 12-13 årig sige “Ej, den bruger jo bare Lomo-fi effekten”.

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Lower East Lab & Streetart i Berlin

Af Anders Stokbro Bjerrum

Mandag den 6. oktober var vi godt og vel 40 multimediestuderende, der tog på studietur til Berlin. Der var mange ting der skulle ske i løbet af de 4 dage, som opholdet varede. Formålet var blandt andet at få et indblik i, hvordan man reelt kunne drive en virksomhed som grafisk designer, samt at komme på en guidet tur i Berlins fantastiske streetart verden.

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Lower East Lab

På andendagen var første punkt på dagsordenen at tage ud og besøge en design virksomhed, som et par af vores undervisere, havde arrangeret et møde med. Virksomheden var drevet af et par, som for et par år siden havde slået deres to firmaer sammen, og havde dannet det der så var blevet til Lower East Lab.

Allerede da jeg kom ind ad døren, og så deres arbejdsplads var jeg meget positivt indstillet. Det var et kæmpestort lokale med hvide murstensvægge og en masse fede designting rundt omkring. Det var lige præcis sådan en slags arbejdsplads jeg havde forestillet mig, der kunne være super fed at arbejde på. Det hele summede af kreativitet og det virkede virkelig som et sted, man havde lyst til at bruge sin tid på nogle fede projekter.

De holdt et super godt oplæg om, hvordan de havde startet op i Berlin, hvor de rejste hen for at arbejde og gav os nogle eksempler på projekter, de havde været igennem. Gennem oplægget var de rigtig gode til at besvare vores spørgsmål og jeg følte, at jeg fik mange rigtig brugbare informationer. Senere var der en praktikant og en freelancer, der fortalte om deres oplevelser og overvejelser som designer, hvilket også gav et godt indblik i, hvad det indebar at starte sin karriere.

I pauserne mellem de forskellige oplæg var der god tid til at tale med dem, så man kunne få svar på nogle af de personlige overvejelser man nu måtte have. Alt i alt var besøget totalt godt!

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Streetart tur

Om onsdagen var der arrangeret en guidet tur rundt i Berlins undergrund, for at se og høre om graffiti, som blev sluttet af med en workshop hos nogle kompetente graffitimalere. Da jeg i forvejen havde en ret stor interesse for graffiti, var dette besøg noget jeg havde glædet mig meget til. Og det skulle da bestemt heller ikke vise sig at skuffe.

Lidt over middag startede vi ud med en tur rundt i Berlin, hvor vi undervejs holdt forskellige stop for at se på en række streetart kreationer. Gutten der viste os rundt var meget engageret og var rigtig god til at fortælle om måden de forskellige ‘pieces’ var lavet. En historie jeg bed særligt mærke i, var da han fortalte om måden det såkaldte 1UP crew, havde malet en hel togvogn på under 5 minutter. En video der selvfølgelig skulle ses på youtube så snart dagen var omme.

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Da var færdig med rundturen, kom vi hen på deres eget værksted, hvor vi selv skulle prøve kræfter med spraydåserne. Vi  fik til opgave at klippe en skabelon, som vi så efterfølgende skulle afprøve en række maleteknikker på. Her viste de, hvordan man ved hjælpe af forholdsvis simple teknikker kunne forvandle en meget enkelt skabelon til noget, der så rigtig fedt ud. Undervejs fik jeg lige et par minutter til at stille de garvede graffitimalere et par af de spørgsmål, som jeg selv havde haft med mine egne projekter derhjemme, hvilket var super fedt at høre deres mening til, hvordan jeg kunne forbedre mine egne evner.

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Efter en aldeles vellykket tur, kørte bussen torsdag aften mod Aarhus igen. På trods af trætheden var tilfredsheden med besøget til at mærke i bussen, og det virkede generelt som om, at alle havde haft en super god tur. Det havde jeg ihvertfald selv!

Over and out!

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Wünderbar! Brachwurst und Brandenburger tor!

Some people search for adventures and if you go to Berlin you will find it. This blogpost will be about our adventure from Aarhus to Berlin. We started with a pickup from Aarhus train station Sunday morning, where we meet our driver “Arne”. We found the lift through the danish site “Gomore”

We sat in the car for six hours where we talked with some interesting people who also were going with the pickup. We discussed several aspects of living in Berlin with the people who inhabited it.

After that we found our hostel and went out for a beer with the locals. We woke up ready for a day in Berlin.  Free walking you say? Yes we went on it to embrace the interesting facts about the historical sites.

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First we started out on Brandenburg Tor, where the tour guide told us that this was the gate to the city back in World War II. It all has been restored since the war except the hotel Adlon, that today still is one of the most expensive hotels in Europe, and well-known for the visit of Michael Jackson where he hold his baby out of the window 😉

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We went to the holocaust memorial. That’s a monument from 2003, dedicated to the people who died during the holocaust in Europe. We felt very cramped and uncomfortable when we walked through the graves – the experience was really breathtaking and enlightening.

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The tour lasted for 2.5 hours and we tipped the guide because he was really cool. Then we were really hungry and thirsty therefore we went for one of the famous döner kebab and brachwurst in Berlin – that was wünderbar.

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This is only our first part of the Berlin trip. The day after the whole class arrived and this concludes the first chapter of our journey.

PART TWO COMING SOON – YEAH!

made by: Mattias Faccini & Mikkel V. Andersen