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Written by Akshaya Devi on June 28, 2019 Share on

A Prequel to the Street Art Cult of Berlin

So what’s the big deal about a messy wall sprayed randomly with flashy paints? Scribble something as weird and ambiguous as possible, let people create their own stories around what it conveys and voila!! Have you just become the Pablo of the graffiti world?!

If only it is as simple as that..

Perhaps the hate quotient that this practice receives surpasses the wow factor so much that its actual motive is not really looked into. What often goes buried in the outlook of this so-called “mindless vandalism” and “hate crime” is often the desperate scream to get heard. The attempts to bring to light what may otherwise not get the attention it deserves. It started as early as the stone age. Speculations are that early humans drew on the cave walls with stones and sharp scrapers to communicate rather artistically what was in their minds.

It’s obvious that they might not have done it for more instagram likes don’t you think? So YES, graffitis are not senseless propaganda. They are one of the strongest platforms to stage emotions and put thoughts into art (Well, if used right).

Coincidence? I think not!!

Berlin does it, and does it like a boss! If some place has the privilege of being called the street art capital of the world, it obviously has more to its art than just to provoke fun.

How is the fall of Berlin wall related to its street art culture?

In 1949 when Berlin was divided into East Berlin and West Berlin after world war 2, millions of people from the east started leaving for the west. As this continued, a politically biased Eastern Berlin government built the 168 km wall that would go on to keep the Eastern locals from fleeing the place. As helpless as the people grew, they kept trying to escape the wall only to lose their lives in the process. The death wall has reportedly swallowed over 206 people during their attempts to cross the wall. However the overall number is more and it terrifies.

Memorials of people who tried to escape the wall

That is exactly why the east side of the wall never had any graffiti before it was taken down — the eastern side of the wall was forbidden for access. The West Berliners used the inanimate wall as a canvas for expressing their protest and dissatisfactions, hence paving the way for the birth of this cult art..

The endless stretches of art you see now aren’t just paintings. They celebrate freedom. They promote liberation. They mock the absurdity of the political systems. The graffitis tainted with mute emotions of the people are not one to corrode with time. They will keep telling stories, as long as Berlin stays alive.

In November 1989, as riots became stronger the wall was finally taken down. The East Berliners celebrated the event by chiselling out souvenirs from the wall and by hitting it hard with sledgehammers.

Here are some of the epic graffitis of Berlin that prove, voices can be muted but emotions can’t!

The diagonal solution to problems

In a situation where nothing was alright or normal, the people were forced to be ‘okay’ with whatever they were facing. It denotes that protesting and taking back what was rightfully theirs were not even the options. You are as alive you don’t talk.

My god, help me survive this deadly love!

Depicting the photograph captured at the 30th anniversary of the German democratic republic, this fraternal kiss between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker is the most ironical art on the Berlin wall given, the closest this German and the Russian got is portrayed in the wall of division.

Cartoon heads

When it comes to these over-coloured sharp sketch of human faces, there is more than meets the eye. Thierry Noir was the first person who started all this — the wall-painting spree. The rest was history.

Berlin’s street art thus, is more than just its witty artists’ attempts to turn heads — instead, to truly reflect what Berlin has gone through and grown through. I believe, a city’s entire history satirically etched in stone walls is worthy of exploring. With me? If yes, go ahead and book your street art tour or Germany vacation packages now with Pickyourtrail.

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