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Black in Berlin: Street Art Isn’t Vandalism, Right?

When it comes to street art, Berlin is of two minds. Some regard the abundance of street art as a sign that the city is going to the dogs, its presence, no matter how intricate is simply an illegal act of vandalism and should be prosecuted. The other side of the house respects designs as a dynamic art form that constantly changes the city’s landscape. For these people, street art is a valid form of expression, transforming the streets of Berlin to a gallery that is accessible to everyone.

I am a fan of murals, spray stencils, and paper paste-ups. These forms of art usually assist in the beautification of the surrounding environment and often come have a strong message. I can’t stand tagging, I don’t care about street-names or what crew you rep. To me, tagging is nothing but a pissing contest with spray paint. The type of street art I prefer is called “post graffiti,” separating open space contemporary artwork from the territorial graffiti such as tagging and vandalism.

Whether you recognize the artistic merit of street art or not, there is something for every aesthetic in Germany’s capital city. After the fall of the Wall it was as if someone lifted the lid on all the creativity that was suppressed by the former East’s government. The old communist housing blocks and vacant buildings beckoned artist from all over the world to embellish the transforming city. The artistic call to arms soon put Berlin on the map as a mecca for street art. The city seemed to provide an unlimited canvas for all interested in showcasing their work and for those with a message to share.

This past week I walked through Berlin with my camera trying to capture some of the current pieces on display. All photos above were taken by me, except the mural of Ray Charles. This wonderful piece can only be seen online in the artist online gallery. It is one of the beautiful victims of the ever changing face of Berlin street art. The canvas is steadily evolving, what you admire today might be covered by a new masterpiece tomorrow.

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