I first photographed Icy and Sot in Amsterdam, both on the street at at one of their gallery shows. They’ve become street art darlings since then, with major turns at Norway’s NuArt fest in Stavanger, and also, it seems, New York City. I literally couldn’t walk through a single borough without running into their work. Most of these were in conjunction with the Bushwick Collective, but also, they were part of the Welling Court Project. Even still, some of it just seemed to be good, ol’ fashioned illegal graff. Good on ’em.
This delightful mural in South Williamsburg just went on and on….
… and on….
This massive, colourful explosion in Bushwick seems to depict suicide bombers in Iraq, but it could also be the way protesters are gunned down in Gaza. Or perhaps it’s Tel Aviv. Syria? Tahrir Square? I’m not really sure, but then again, the goal isn’t to precisely identify what the artist is trying to say. The point is to make it mean something to you.
I love how his arm reaches up and hangs off of the barbed wire on the roof.
Apologies for not getting a close-up of his hand. I should point out that I took these photographs the first week of January when it was about -20 degrees and removing my hands from my mitts to take photos was a race against frost bite. I could only take maybe two or three pictures before my hands would sting and splinter and redden and become numb. Graff hunting in winter is so much different than in summer. Le sigh.
Their famous portrait here in blue was a massive mural up in Queens, as part of the Welling Court project.
I love this cop and his shadow mural off of Meserole in Bushwick. It must have been erected during the Black Lives Matter protests, as it seems to be a direct comment on Police Brutality, and appearance vs reality when it comes to New York cops.
You know what’s funny of this walking boy of theirs? If you go on Instagram, everyone thinks this is Banksy.
No, beebees, just, no.
I will do anything you tellllll meeeee toooooooooo.
I had never photographed or heard of Vexta until this trip to NYC, but her work was everywhere and it was gorgeous, dark, haunting, emotive, and meaningful. I really liked her use of colour, and subject matter. And the pieces are just so provocative, you never forget them once you’ve seen them!
I found most of her work in Bushwick as part of the Bushwick Collective, but there were some pieces found in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, so just keep your eyes peeled when you’re walking around!
“Der rote Engel” as they say. I found her one day, walking along Körtestraße in Kreuzberg, a street I had walked along many times before, but I had somehow missed her. Because I was looking down.
To find angels, you must always look heavenward.
She has the eyes of an angel. Look at the glistening glimmer.
I had never come across xi-Design before but I am now a fan.
A street art photographer-blogger like me always dreams of photographing the work of Os Gêmeos, and even though I have travelled the world over, I have never been fortunate enough to find the Brazillian brothers’ works! UNTIL NOW!
Os Gêmeos BABY!
This Moonman, located near Kottbusser Tor, is by Ash.
The Pink Man, near Oberbaumbrucke, is by BLU.
These two massive murals on Schlesische strasse are also by BLU.
I’m pretty sure this is by Miss Van. It was near the East Side Gallery.
Is that my beloved Vhils? Why yes it is!
My beloved C215 and his signature kitty-cat.
Is is a peace sign, a high-five, or a fuck you?
What we do know is that it’s by Case Maclaim
The last time I photographed Miss Me was in Montreal! Had no idea she’d been here!
It’s my beloved Jimmy C aka James Cochran!
Jimmy’s heart (obstructed by some idiot’s fat head).
And Jimmy’s lovely tribute to Anne Frank.
And my beloved Stik! (Yes they’re all my beloved…. WHAT OF IT?)
More Stik behind bars.
And Stik behind trees!
Ain’t that the fricken truth.
Bending Berlin Baby! And it’s a picture of Bender from Futurama! Space Invader has a version of this in Brussels, which I photographed last year, check it out! This is by street artist ambush and you should check out his website!
That’s good advice, you guys.
Well if it isn’t my old Cologne-pal Decycle. I photographed this exact same piece over in that forsaken city, but glad to see he’s taking up a much more civilized and cosmopolitain area.
Jessica Rabbit. “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”
Ah, my true Belgian love, Roa. I had read on the blogs that he had made an appearance in Berlin a few years ago, so I set out to find his works. This is the only one that remains… a huge mural near Kottbusser Tor. For those of you who don’t know Roa (and really, if you don’t know Roa, please take a few mins to check out my Roa category for a huge selection of his works that I’ve photographed around the world), his work explores the circle of life amongst animals. He likes to portray animals either in a state of feeding, a state of death, or a state of decay, but it’s never gross or obscene, it’s always a tribute to the beautiful circle of life. In addition, unlike some other street artists who rely on stencils or posters or tricks (nothing wrong with those by the way, I adore stencils and posters!), all of Roa’s pieces are done with just a spray can and a helluva lot of talent.
As you can see the animals are dead, and have been hung up to dry, much like they are in shop windows in Chinatown. So it might be safe to assume Roa is showing how these animals didn’t die of natural causes, they were killed for their meat. This is less circle-of-life, and more the gritty, cruel world of the meat industry.
Anyway, it’s a beautiful piece, and considering all of Roa’s other works in Berlin are gone (or at least, I have struggled in vain to find the rest and could not), this is definitely something that should be appreciated whilst it’s still there.
I first discovered El Bocho in Cologne last year and his work is all over Berlin! Score!
Together we are more than you.
Love in concrete
Love in concrete facades…
Now to get him to do my face!!
This will be a sombre, solemn post. I thought when I decided to spend the summer in Berlin that I’d be more fascinated with WWII history (and believe me, I am), but I was unprepared for just how much Cold War history would really affect me.
Throughout the 20th century, Germans have been REALLY good at building walls. First they built walls to create Jewish Ghettos, then they built walls around concentration camps, then they built walls to separate their own people. If you just so happened to be living in the wrong part of Berlin, you were suddenly forbidden to visit your family and friends on the other side of town. You couldn’t even wave across the wall, or they would blind you with reflecting mirrors. The Soviets wanted to prevent people from moving freely from one side to the other, so they built a wall, and would kill if you dared cross. THEY WOULD KILL YOU. And this isn’t ancient history, people were being killed in 1989 for trying to cross the wall. IN 1989.
And I find the sections where the Berlin wall is still standing especially haunting. Because, really, the wall isn’t that high. It wasn’t really the wall but the kill zone in between East and West Germany that is horrific.
This is a photograph of 18 year old Peter Fechter. He was an apprentice bricklayer.
And this is the last photograph ever taken of Peter Fechter as he lay dying from a gunshot wound to the stomach when he tried to cross the wall in 1962. The East Germans shot him and left him there for over an hour to die.
This marks the spot where he died.
You know, my pictures of this murder don’t do the horror of this event justice. Here is a short film about the erection of the Berlin Wall and the murder of Peter Fechter (I know no one likes watching videos, but it’s only 9 minutes long, and it’s actually really good. The voice-over feels a bit dated, but I would highly encourage you guys to watch this. There is footage of Peter Fechter being carried off as he dies, and other footage of people trying to jump the wall, or even jumping out of buildings just to get to the West.).
What you’re looking at here is a preserved section of the wall and the kill zone, with an intact guard tower. You can see the Berlin TV tower near Alexanderplatz (in the West) in the background. If you lived here on Bernauerstrasse in the 1960s, you could see into the west, you could hear the rumble of the trams and S-bahn, you could even hear their voices. But, for over 40 years, you wouldn’t have been able to see your family living there.
It’s obscene how recent this history is.
As you saw in the video above, if you lived on a building facing the West, before the wall was built you could just jump through your window and run to the West with all your things.
But then they started to build the wall, first with barbed wire, then with bricks.
Even the East German guards were swept up in the wall-crossing fever. You have all seen this photograph before. His name is Conrad Schumann.
Schumann was a young East German guard, overseeing the border when it was just barbed wire. As the story goes, on the West was a van full of West German guards who called out to him, and said, “Come on, join us!” So when the moment was right, he hopped the wire, dropped his gun, and dashed into the waiting van which drove off. The East German police scrambled to grab his gun, and then all hell broke loose.
Here is a short video (put it on mute, there’s some obnoxious voiceover on it) of that moment. Some lucky bastard had his camera rolling at that exact moment, and caught it all on tape.
Schumann became a posterboy for West Germany. The sad thing – he was petrified his entire life that the Stasi would arrest him or seek retribution for his act. Even after the wall fell and Germany was reunified, he lived in constant fear. He committed suicide in 1998, by hanging himself from a tree.
Here’s another guard tower around the corner from Potsdamer Platz. The wall was so ridiculous, it literally cut the city in two via asinine regulations. For 28 years, nobody was able to pass through the Brandenburg Tor, because it was situated in the killzone between the East and the West. Now, the Brandenburg Tor is a huge tourist draw and everyone passes through it. If you tried to do that in 1984, for example, you would have been shot.
When the wall finally fell and the East Germans walked into the West, they said it felt like “madness.” This above photograph I took last week.
Here’s something new. In 2006, this is what a section of the wall near Wilhelmstrasse looked like. I took this picture back then.
This is what that exact same wall looked like last week.
The trees are gone, and they paved over most of the cobblestones in favour of asphalt.
Because on the other side of the wall, they have put in an open-air museum called Topographie Des Terrors, as that is the location of a former Gestapo prison. The ruins of the prison cells are down there.
Now the former border is either marked by cobblestones in the road, or by these beams.
Or, the best way to commemorate a political travesty…
Welcome to the East Side Gallery! The stretch of the Berlin Wall that had such provocative street art, it encouraged the revolution of the people, and the destruction of the DDR. It now is a protected wall, and these original murals from the late 80s serve as a reminder to the power of the people, and a people torn apart.
I’ll let these images speak for themselves, shall I?
The caption says “My God, help me to overcome this deadly love.”
This is a satirical depiction of a famous moment when Erich Honecker (leader of the DDR) kissed Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev. This is perhaps the most recognizable image from the East Side Gallery.
This says, “He who wants the world to remain as it is, doesn’t want it to remain at all.”
Why is that Thierry Noir? I FINK SO!
In fact, it is the wall which made Noir famous. He put up these infamous faces in the 80s, and they became a symbol of the people separated. Along with the Honecker kiss above, it is one of the most recognizable symbols of the wall.
A touch of home! There’s a 2009 mural here that is captioned “Je Me Souviens” which is the slogan of Quebec! And underneath it references the student protests in Quebec. It has the red square that was the symbol of the protestors, and it says Fuck Charest, Fuck Harper.
For those of you who don’t know, Charest was the premier of Quebec, and Harper is our stupid Prime Minister.
Jodie Foster from Taxi Driver. I saw this wheatpaste in London, must be new.
The dust of walls torn down has settled in the hearts of men. How will you keep them from rising again?
This is all fun and stuff, but let’s not forget that people died. People were terrorized. And this is a reminder of all-too-recent history.
Last week I was walking along in Shoreditch and stumbled across street artist Matlakas erecting a new huge mural on Great Eastern street. It’s gorgeous and haunting and provocative and so well done! Very impressed.
There he is at work.
All of these were erected last year for the Dulwich Festival… still standing, so take a wander around Dulwich in South East London if you’re ever so inclined!
Just like The Triumph of David…