Basel. Photo © Harry Gelb

I recently had the opportunity to get in touch with the guys from Harry Gelb, a duo that has been creating haunting urban art installations around the globe part of their ongoing project ‘Ghosts of ourselves’.

Like many German readers will notice, the name Harry Gelb refers to the main character in Jörg Fauser’s books; a wild open-minded figure, that is ruthless against himself and that doesn’t follow any standards. This tiny big projects intends to open your mind by precisely, not following the standards.

‘Ghost of ourselves’ consists of a series of small installations made of tiles with printed images on them. The tiles have been attached to different walls around the world and every single piece is unique. But what is this project about? well, among other things,’Ghost of ourselves’ speaks about ephemerality, drawing a parallel to street art. This idea is reinforced by the use of photography as a primary visual medium. By doing so, they insert their work in the real of nostalgia, featuring images of moments and structures that were, but no longer exist. An instant in time, a Polaroid, which it is pretty much what they look like.
Another concept addressed by artists, is the concept of decay; not only because of the ephemeral character of what is portrayed, but also the physical decay of the tiles and their surroundings, their relationship and how we relate to the different elements in the work, both at a conceptual and physical level.

Bönn. Photo © Harry Gelb

The artists make the viewer ask themselves questions like where do I stand? what do I see? Is the loneliness and the emptiness intended? What does it mean for me? Is there a story behind this images?Who is the protagonist? Am I , the viewer, maybe intended to create a story that fulfils the image and provides meaning? Where do I go now? are there more of these? Are they connected? Will this physical connection give me an answer or do I have to find it myself, inside me? Suddenly have become involved, moreover, we have become part of the project.

‘The project is an empirical act, which is supposed to get you moving, both mentally and physically. And as the ghosts never hide just in one spot, you will have to search a whole city to discover them and doing that you hopefully will find more. Particularly when leaving your home city or country. Having a treasure map is maybe a good way of determining that the quest is more important than the aim and becoming friends with a stranger the real gold.’

‘Ghost of ourselves’ asks as just that, to looks at the ghosts inside us inside these apparently unrelated images. But not just that, the project also aims  to unmask the falsehood of materialism and makes us aware of the value of what it means to be human,  the value of empathy and respect for each other.

Basel. Photo © Harry Gelb

Are you ready to let your own story unfold through these images? Maybe the next time you are in Basel, Dresden, Berlin, Lisbon, Grottaglie, Istanbul or even Buenos Aires, and you wander around, look at those decaying corners. Maybe you will be able to find some of them and become a ghost-hunter.

Just in case you want to read a bit more about the project, check out Harry Gelb’s website or their facebook page. I personally love it!

Bönn. Photo © Harry Gelb

Dresden. Photo © Harry Gelb

Dresden. Photo © Harry Gelb

Bönn. Photo © Harry Gelb

Grottaglie. Photo © Harry Gelb

Grottaglie. Photo © Harry Gelb

Author: Fran

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.