So to start off, I am a big fan of graffiti and street art. Not in the sense that I want to see it everywhere, but when it placed respectfully and artistically, I believe it can add so much to an area. The pieces in this post are from throughout Berlin and can form a kind of ‘graffiti tour’ if you will. I’ll be talking about what I like about each piece and how I stumbled across the alternative sights of Berlin.
For all the photos, exact locations can be found at the bottom of this post.
The first piece above on Immanuelkirchstrasse in Winsviertel. Walking back from visiting the Zionskirche, the Tchoban Foundation and also a nearby water tower, this caught my eye from a couple blocks away. A sense of community was brought about here, the layers always completely covering the previous layer. The words written here come across as romantic, which wouldn’t usually be associated with street art.
At least by my grasp of German that is.
One of the more surreal paintings that I have witnessed, but none the less, it caught my attention whilst visiting the nearby ‘The Return of the Cows’ piece. Looking on these words now I can see that some paint has been covered by plaster, whilst other paints are covering plaster. Making me think that whilst the windows were being installed, the artist took their opportunity to scale the building using the scaffolding. Impromptu poetry, perhaps?
Hackerschermarkt is a very westernised area, near to the Fernsehturm and featuring many globally recognised brands. One small alleyway, however, is a complete contrast to the capitalism of the former East. It shows a great feeling of community between the different businesses and artists. Whilst waiting for a nearby attraction, Monsterkabinett, to open its doors I had time to sit and enjoy this community and take in the many details that have been added over time.
Mumblings from the surrounding people, obviously local residents, were around a new couple who had recently moved into this flat. After a short while, this hand popped through and one the creatives behind it gave their first impression on the area. Needless to say it was well received by the locals, and by other visitors like myself.
The temperature on this day reached 40 degrees celsius. I can still remember popping into a corner-shop for a refreshing drink and the cashier asking me if it was hot, whilst sweat was dripping off my forehead and nose. ‘Not at all’, I sarcastically responded.
The moments standing in the shade to cool down gave me time to take in the walls and features. I waited for a little while for the right moment to shoot this sci-fi recreation, mostly to savour the drink I had just bought. From the perspective that I viewed this electrical box, I was amazed that passersby didn’t know what I was photographing. It can be strange that it takes an outsider to point things out that are in plain sight on a regular basis.
The ICC is a massive complex used for conventions and massive concerts. During its down time it seems to almost decay with loneliness. With nothing to stop anyone walking over its walkways during these off-peak periods, it has been claimed by many taggers. Whilst walking through this overpass I passed a photographer and a model. I was pleasantly surprised that two creatives in different parts of the spectrum found joy in the setting.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a fan of minimalism. Not only did this unique alleyway grab my attention due to its strange choice of colour, but also this political tag. Something that conveys a saying of advertising in just three symbols; ‘sex sells’. This is only one of a few other small pieces that were present when shooting this, something which I find miraculous considering how closed off this alleyway is.
Walking out of the previous alleyway, it led me to a small ‘Spaghetti Junction’-esque series of overpasses. Serving no other purpose than practicality, taggers had taken their opportunity to claim something. This electrical box may have been sitting here for years or, more likely, decades and had gained no attention, despite being in a completely central position at this time of day.
Another show of respect can be seen here. A magnificent building stands to the left of shot, but the better canvas is seen as this garage door. Even respect for other taggers is shown too, no overlapping or ‘graffiti banter’ that can be seen in other places. It also may direct people to look elsewhere as, being honest here, the building that has been vandalised, is nothing special.
This small street was very cramped, with only room for one car to pass through. Despite being incredibly small there was a massive contrast in the two sides. One showing grandeur and another featuring areas such as this. Over many, many years the gateway and wall have been visited countless times. Each only reflecting the decay and neglect that comes with the process of urbanisation.
Behind us here lay two either homeless or party-hard people, asleep whilst in the building to the right, a bass-heavy rave carries on. It is about 1pm. The grungy-ness is reflected on the surrounding walls and immediately stops. Nothing like it can be seen on the other corners of the junction, nor when walking a little further along the street.
Much of my time on holiday is walking with a rough destination, if something catches my eye, I walk towards it. Within the Brunnenviertel, however, I found myself walking up one street, then along the next, and the next, taking in as many facades as I could. This building shows a more natural and practical divide in graffiti and the canvas that artists use. As cities get bigger, we build upwards and for graffiti, this means investing in a ladder or getting used to painting on the first floor.
This building in Oranienstrasse is a strange one. The surrounding area is very quaint; cafes, bars and restaurants of different cultures around, yet this building (previously a restaurant) is an outlier. Even looking on Google Maps, this can be seen as a restaurant in the last few years. How can a building be forgotten by the business world so quickly, and why is it that it has become covered in art in such a short space of time?
The community feel in this area was astounding, not far from the aforementioned water tower and Zionskirche, this building has been given character in contrast to the surrounding buildings of nearly identical style. Not only does the building reflect this community but I also experienced it nearby, having a quick chat with another corner-shop customer and a randomly placed wagon with many framed photographs inside.
This one truly puzzled me, firstly in thinking how? After which I though; ‘boat!’, but then also the question of, why? What drives an artist to claim a bridge, an overpass or an electrical box. Is this merely a coincidence of respect that has been mentioned before, or is there something that brings creative minds to improve a surface that has no little visual beauty?
The final piece on this blog is maybe towards one of the more minute here. Incredibly easy to miss, however, I am so happy that I decided to capture it. It is one of the few here that goes against the sign of respect of property from artists, but at the same time it has an underlying message when put together with the other photographs, artists may be trying to improve people’s experiences by giving them something ever-changing and different to look at.
With that poignant quote, we come to the end of this post. I hope you’ve enjoyed the work of some creative and talented people of Berlin. As always, if you have enjoyed any of the photos enough to want them permanently, you can find my Instagram followers’ favourite ones below!
Thanks for taking your time to peruse!