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Urban Art and Graffiti in Berlin – Urban Affairs Festival

Berlin has lived an important process of continual redefinition and change since the Reunification in 1990. Now it has become world-famous because of its international architecture, its performing arts and its cultural diversity. Moreover, Berlin rates as one of the best locations for street art and graffiti.

There is nothing unusual about graffiti covered walls in Berlin. The city has become a blank canvas for graffiti artists far and wide. The roots of graffiti culture can be traced back to West Berlin in the early 1980s, when the American-occupied sector was the reluctant melting pot of anarchist punks, Turkish immigrants and West German draft resisters. Nowadays, Germans accept graffiti in their cities because of the graffiti painted on the Berlin Wall. Once a symbol of division, the preserved parts of the wall now showcase some of the most famous graffiti in the world.

Grafiti may be vandalism, but it is also celebrated as street art and even regarded as an integral component of Berliner Strassenkultur. Some 45 street artists from nine countries are taking part in Germany’s biggest-ever urban art exhibition, which has been extended to the end of August because of the huge interest. It is the URBAN AFFAIRS Festival. Located in a post-industrial building, this 900 sq. meter exhibition space is the ideal location for the largest and most comprehensive Urban Art exhibition in Germany to date. It is one of the most interesting showcases of more than 25 international artists in this context. Jochen Kuepper (riot arts) originally from Cologne is one of the initiators and curators of this ambitious project, which tries to contribute as an alternative platform for backjumps or planet process, both bigger but also more established festivals of street art.

Urban Art and Street Art are experiencing increasing global attention from significant collections, publications and institutions in the established art market, as well as an academic reappraisal of the genre within the art historical context. Works by selected street artists continue to break auction records and the fact that URBAN AFFAIRS participants El Tono and Nano 4818 are currently exhibiting at the Tate Modern Museum in London symbolizes the staggering development and widespread notoriety of this anarchic art movement.

Unlike other cities which have demonised its urban artists, street art today is an integral staple of the Berlin cultural scene. The whole city is a canvas. It has so many walls, so many atmospheric buildings. Berlin has become a magnet for artists who produce their art on concrete surfaces. Clubs and bars are also commonly decorated with graffiti. This is such a big contrast from most clubs and bars in the United States. The graffiti makes some travellers leery of venturing in to such establishments. Street art is gaining increasing global attention from the established art market, with work by its top exponents starting to break auction house records.