STREET ART BERLINJuly 27, 2012
Berlin is one of the hippest cities on the map. And that isn’t just because its streets are graced by two Urban stores (although that helps). Berlin has a thriving arts scene that nurtures some of the contemporary art world’s finest exports. It’s hardly surprising then that the very walls of the city are drenched in street art. We trekked around the city on foot and caught up with Matti Geyer from Alternative Berlin street tours to get the inside scoop.
How did you get into street art? When you live in Berlin it’s hard not to notice the street art that is all over the city. Some friends of mine are artists too. They made me aware of it.
Why do you think that Berlin is such a hotbed for it? Berlin is a vibrant and young city that has attracted dozens of artists in the past few years. People can live a decent life here without earning much money. The very recent history of Berlin has left its mark everywhere. There’s enough space in the city. I like it here because even though it’s such a big and crazy city, it’s not hectic. Berlin’s just the perfect city for creative, young people.
Who’re your favourite street artists? My favourite Berlin based artist would be El Bocho. I especially like his two CCTV cameras “Kalle and Bernd” who are always talking about what they’re seeing in the city – be it vomiting tourists, dog s**t, cops or hot girls. I also like Bimer and his bear. My favourite international artist would be Blu from Italy. He’s done some amazing murals around the world.
If you had to pick one artwork as a favourite, which would it be? I would pick one of Blu’s works in Berlin. It’s the Berlin wall coming down and rising again as a bunch of 100 Euro notes.
Where are your Berlin street art hotspots? You can find street art all over the city. The best districts are Kreuzberg, Mitte, Friedrichshain, Neukölln, Prenzlauerberg and Wedding. The RAW Tempel in Friedrichshain is always good for new artwork as well as the Schwarzenberg Hof in Mitte. But you could also just sit on the train that goes around the city and you will see so much great graffiti. Once you have an eye for it, you will see it everywhere.
Do you create your own works? I’ve sprayed, I’ve stickered. I appreciate the art and I follow it, but I’m not an artist myself.
Where else in the world can you see great street art? Wherever people live who want to reclaim their city. Although I have yet to find a city where street art is so extensive as it in Berlin.
What do you say to people who call street art vandalism? I wouldn’t speak to such people!
What kind people come on your tours? It’s hard to generalize. But they’re all open-minded and share an interest in the alternative side of the city.
Are they impressed with the sights? Yes. A lot of people don’t have places like that where they’re coming from. So it’s good to spread the word about alternative ways to live your life in your city.
Any funny stories to tell from your tours? A colleague of mine once got asked “What is Portugal?”