Berlin show pays homage to 50 years of graffiti culture
By Lucas Tarancon
Berlin, Jun 2 (EFE).- One of the longest open-air exhibitions, which celebrates 50 years of graffiti history, opened Thursday in Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm boulevard.
Spanning a 1.2-kilometer strip of the well-known avenue, “All we wrote – the Passion of Graffiti” is a journey through the history of graffiti culture, from its marginal beginnings in New York in the 1970s to its rise as a “cool” and “mainstream” art-from in the age of social media.
Over 30 artists from New York, Amsterdam, Sao Paulo and Paris, and also some homegrown talent, have produced exclusive works for the show.
FINO91, a German artist who has been in the field for 30 years and is coordinating the show’s artistic team, tells Efe that graffiti has no rules or religion — “it is free.”
“It is an art that is born in the street, outside traditional art settings, such as universities and academies. It is an art of poor kids like me, who decide what is ‘cool’ and create our own rules,” he adds.
The FINO91 installation that greets visitors is a door, of sorts, plonked on a traffic island that runs down the middle of the street in front of the KaDeWe department store.
The artist says Berlin is one of the world’s graffiti hotspots, where urban art is championed. When asked if he worries about graffiti becoming mainstream, he replies “we can make money with it” that way.
Among the showcased graffiti artists are some pioneers of urban art who have been stamping their designs on buildings and train wagons since the 1970s and 80s, including Linwood Felton.
Lin, as he prefers to be called, tells Efe he has been painting “illegally” for 50 years.
His career started in 1972 in New York.
“Maybe I’m the oldest, active painter of the genre of graffiti on trains. I still paint trains,” Lin says.
Graffiti in 1970s New York “wasn’t art, it was vandalism,” he adds.
“America and New York were at the end of the hippie era, so we were a bit more together. It didn’t matter what color you were, your sexuality… we all joined together to do this activity. And we knew it was illegal. We did go to jail. We knew we could go to jail. And we were punished by society. But it was so funky and fresh, it became addictive,” says the graffiti artist.
The artist says he was surprised to arrive in Berlin and find the exhibition on “the main drive,” something he already witnessed in Amsterdam in the 1980s, where he realized that graffiti was valued. EFE