Friday, April 3, 2009

I also heart graffiti.

I had a strange transformation regarding graffiti in Berlin. It's all over the place there, and at first I hated it. I thought it made the city look trashy. But over the course of the week, I kinda fell in love with it. I think I took over 250 pictures of graffiti on the sides of buildings and especially on the Berlin Wall. There's a small section (1.3 km) of the Berlin wall still standing called the East Side Gallery, and it's absolutely covered in graffiti. And it's not just tags (though there are plenty of those) but rather large murals and really beautiful designs. I had planned to walk by the East Side Gallery and then go to one of the museums, but I didn't have to do that. The Wall was my art for the day. It was interactive art. Artists painted the large murals, and then other people would come and add to it, tag their name, whatever. It was a cooperative, messy effort, and it was beautiful.

When I returned to Paris after Berlin, I went to an exhibit at the Grand Palais on "Le Tag," which was all about graffiti and street art. What the curator did was give 150 street artists two canvases, one for the artist's tag and the other for an image of love. It was a really cool concept. As the exhibit explained, graffiti isn't always meant to vandalize, ruin, or destroy property. The colors, asymmetry, and messiness of graffiti break up the monotony, the right angles, and the tidiness of city life. It can be a public display of one's politics and one's self. I still don't know how I feel about spraypainting someone else's personal property, but I can definitely appreciate the art behind it.

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