A very personal journey through the changes of street art in Berlin, by dAzErO/Street Art Photographer – Berlin.
Berlin, the City that I call my home! I was a young body ・and face painter who – coming from a small village at the Baltic Sea / North Germany – wanted to break free and live ART, Music and Adventure. It was 1983 when I first moved to Berlin to finally stay for now almost 32 Years. It was the time of “New Wave”, “Contemperary R&B”, “Pince”, “Hip Hop” and something called “Street Art”, which was about to become real popular in Germany and especially in Berlin.
The 80’s in Berlin were definitely something else, I can tell you that much. Actually the vibe was a bit like today. Plenty of international musicians and artists chose Berlin to be their home ・at least for a while. Some, of course still live here, like one of my personal heros:Jaybo aka Monk ・who lives and works in Berlin Kreuzberg since the mid 80ies. Other street art icons like Banksy, Basquiat, Blek le rat, Bozo Texino, Peter-Ernst Eiffe and many more, came at least once to Berlin to leave their marks on one or two walls. Street Art and Berlin – that is a long lasting Love affair which hopefully never stops – BUT – went through a lot of changes. Many of the established and most known urban artists are actually within their mid thirties or even mid 50ies or older.
In the 80’s all was about art and fun and somehow a very closed up community since Berlin was surrounded by DDR walls. But when in 1989 THE WALL came down – practically overnight – the whole art scene of Berlin changed. It was like the city was over floated with art of all kinds.
Street Art became even wilder, faster, younger and imho much more commercial than it used to be.
One of the main places to be – after the wall had gone – was:”Kunsthaus Tacheles” which became not only my second home for over 22 years, but became the Home of Street Art in Berlin. In the backyard open fire surrounded by iron sculptures and wooden shags that would provide the guest with the most hip drinks, made us regularly stay from dusk ´till dawn. Music bands like “SEED” who were formed at another Urban Art Home the YAAM and many others used the open stage at “Café Zapata” to become famous at Tacheles. Its final closure on the 4th of september 2012 however, became the sad reason to start documenting the street art in my city. The main focus was of course to make sure that street art was not lost before seen by many. From then on I started taking street art photos where ever and whenever I could. Starting naturally with the art pieces in Tacheles which were about to be lost for good! That day btw Berlin has suffered a great loss as well as a world famous tourist attraction. The Art Scene simply moved elsewhere – typical for Berlin.
Berlin can be such a BITCH sometimes as well as the most charming city in the world and it can eat U up at the same time. But – as for Street Art – it is imho still one of THE places to be as Urban Artist. On every Corner U stumble over amazing art pieces by international and resident artists such as “Banksy“, “Blek le Rat“,”Osch”, “Blo”, “Monk”, “Alias“, “El Bocho“, “AgeAge”, “KEN”, “JBAK”, “Alice“, “HrvB”, “MTO“, “Jimmy C“, “Nychos the Weird”, “Nether”, “Axel Void“, “Apitatan“, “Alaniz”, “Wesr”, “Peach Beach”, “Johannes Mundinger“, “Jones”, “SOON”, “Heavi Styles”, “Anonym”, “Herakut“,”C215” “Caro “Geduldig” Pepe“, “Moe79“, “Sam Crew”…. the list is endless and names just a tiny selection of those I like best ;).
From the 90’s , when Berlin was waking up to the new political situation, until now street art has become more established. Urban artsits organised themselves and formed initiatives, created art events to preserve, promote, live and create Urban Art.
Art Projects like the “Platoon” ,
or places like YAAM , that for years feature artists from all over the world and has recently – after been moved so many times in Berlin opened a new location – this time for a longer period and with the full blessing of the Berlin authorities.
or the Teufelsberg Art project which hosted numerous urban art events trough the past years. (see below)
Naturally formed Art Galleries on the walls of “Kino Intimes” and finally Art Fairs like ”The STROKE” – to name just a few of the many many things happening referring to Urban art in Berlin – all help to bring Street Art even closer to Fans like myself and Artists to finally earn something to make a living from their art in a broader sense as it was possible before. AND at the same time all this wonderful activity IMHO bares the risk of getting too commercial and loosing the base of it all – the street and the art. A Market has formed in which some gain in an undeserve large way and others remain unpayed and abused by people that copy and steal what was created by them to be a pleasure for many in the open street.
Numerous tour guides, travel agencies, hotels show and offer thousands of mostly young tourist tours round the Berlin streets and Urban Art Hotspots like Hackesche Höfe, Urban Spree or Kino Intimes.
Don´t get me wrong, I strongly believe in paying for art and well deserved respect. And yet I see a change when I roam the streets of my city always on the hunt for the news piece in order to document and thereby hopefully preserve it. I see destruction increasing. Pieces get destroyed shortly after the work is done …
It makes me sad and I ask myself strictly from the Fans point of view – Why and what is behind all this. When I talk to artist about they tell me sometimes that it is part of the game in being a Street Artist, that the art is lost more quickly than you can create it. But other leave the City because of this because they feel disrespected – and frankly – I think that is true as well as taking it into consideration that your art is not staying because it is illegal what you do and can be removed any time.
Yesterday I went to IKEA to get something for my room and what did I see? U can actually buy Street Art at IKEA now – for 14.99 Euro you can put a Crash, M-city, Carolina Falkholt, Hua Tunan or other assorted artists on the wall. I think this shows the change in Street Art since the mid 80ies perfectly indeed.
M-city and other on display at IKEA Berlin
Carolina Falkholt Display at IKEA Berlin
I had the great pleasure to meet one of the artists – MCity – A very cool dude btw – who had just finished his last piece on the IKEA buildings and took pictures for his webpage.
Mass media, internet, change of time and spirit as well as an increase of self esteem have made it possible that today a global player like IKEA co-operates directly with young artists that started their career with a “bomb and run” in the streets!! It has ts good and bad sides that Street Art is commercialized in that way! Do I like it?!? I am not sure yet – Of course I love the Artists being payed for what they gift us with – AND at least – THIS time the “dosh” goes to those who created the Art and not to those who stole it ;).
But on the other hand it takes a lil of the old SPIRIT away – but then again that was the old Days – Now the Future of Street Art starts … Rock ´em Kids!
dAzErO/Street Art Photographer – Berlin