Last night two of the most popular murals in Berlin Kreuzberg were painted over. The murals, painted in 2007 and 2008 by the Italian artist Blu. One of them featured a headless figure with two gold watches wearing them as if they were handcuffs. The other, two brothers taking off each others masks painted together with JR for a street art exhibition called Planet Process in 2007.
The background for this decision seems to be a recent discussion about whether the murals should be preserved or not.
It seems to be a lot of speculations about who did it and for which reasons, but the one that seems most plausible was a statement found in a Polysingularity article, claiming that it was the italian artist Blu who commissioned the cancelation of his own artwork. Here the statement published on Polysingularity:
“And it is not the city of Berlin doing that, neither it is the real estate developers who want to build a new residential complex at this empty spot.
In fact, it is being done by the people related to BLU — the artist who made this painting.
With his consent.
A sort of desperate statement: having learned that a new house would be built at that spot with a panning view on the paintings (that would be kept on the wall), the artists decided to paint them all black, so that nobody can take advantage of the original work. In a way, it is a “fuck you” gesture towards the city, towards the real estate company, but most of all – to all the people who love this artwork and everything that it’s come to represent.
The argument of the people who are doing that is that Berlin is not the same anymore, that the real estate company will just use the artwork to sell apartments more expensive, that a new statement needs to be made… In a way, they are doing exactly what the artwork says: “reclaim your city”.
But their way of “reclaiming” Berlin is actually accepting their own loss. Accepting that they cannot win the fight. Losing the hope. Sinking the ship that is already drowning.
It’s an act of total despair, pessimistic at its core, devoid of any faith, belief and hope.
The only hope that it has is to make a statement. But that statement is of a negative kind. The sailors of the sinking ship decide to take the ship that is already sinking with a big Bang. So that at least, after they sink, they are remembered.
A gesture that is full of anguish. Attempting to gain control where it cannot exist anymore. And very symptomatic of street art and contemporary art in general: full of irrelevant ego-driven explosions within the small bubbles that nobody cares about anyway.
A gesture that is also full of hypocrisy. The people who are destroying the artwork say that they act from BLU’s consent. They say that he doesn’t want to help real estate companies sell their apartments better. But he does not seem to mind that those same real estate companies inadvertently provide canvases for his own artwork to sell better…”
well, it’s street art…
Founder and editor of Urbanite. Street Art lover who after the finishing her MA thesis on the muralist movement in the 1920-50s, developed a fascination for street art and graffiti that eventually led to collaborations with different art blogs, including the creation of this one.