Thursday, June 14, 2012

Berlin.1 Street Art Graffiti Graphisme May 2012

I headed to Berlin after Paris to meet with colleagues, attend a postcard show, visit the flea markets and spend some quality time getting to know the city better. Besides doing business my main objective was to discover what was going on in "non-traditional" art venues, most located in the mitte area of East Berlin. In retrospect, placed alongside the galleries and art institutions I visited, the street art, graffiti and "artist buildings" were the most impactful and interesting part of my week long trip.

After arriving in Berlin my first stop was the gallery and art book publishers Bon Gout (recently changed the name of their business to RE:Surgo!) who specialize in limited edition, serigraphed books. I was initially exposed to their publications in Paris and then here in New York at the annual Artist's Book Fair held at PS1. I love what they do: the concepts, quality of the books and the attention to detail. You can visit them online here or at the book fair in New York in September.

Anna Heilsgard (above) and her partner Christian Gfeller are the Bon Gout creative team.

During my first trip to Berlin two years after the wall came down, I was fascinated by the "art houses" just emerging in East Berlin, located near the Hackescher Markt S-bahn stop: the Hackescher Hof and the Haus Schwarzenburg. The two alleyways leading into the building complexes are a metaphor for the double edge today's Berlin presents. One is filled with upscale shops, restaurants and a theatre and the other, the Haus Schwarzenburg is filled with graffiti, tags and wall stencils and alternative art galleries.

"Ich bin ein Berliner"

In the courtyard is the entrance to one of the buildings where the bookstore and art gallery Neurotitan is located. The stairwell leading up to the space is completely covered with years of graffiti, tags, stencils and paste-ups. 

Neurotitan gallery had an exhibition of silk screened and handmade prints from the Justseeds Artist's Cooperative entitled Agit-Prop and Intervention. A collections of political and social/economic protest propaganda posters, created by co-op members in The United States, Canada and Mexico.

One of the things I noticed about the East Berlin streets is the large amount of "wild" postings of posters for art and cultural events. The posters are frequently pasted up over a previously posted poster. Eventually the paper build-up gets quite thick, and with the aid of moisture and gravity, starts to peel away from the wall. Part of the Justseeds exhibition were stacks of these Berlin street posters removed from the city's walls and folded into bundles stacked on the floor or rolled into giant megaphones hanging from the ceiling.


see the next post for more Berlin...

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