Thursday, June 28, 2012

Everything can be repaired

I don’t know how it is in America but in Germany we have lots of graffiti on so many walls and buildings. They’re mostly in the bigger cities like Berlin, but you can also see some in Karlsruhe – which is also big but not like the German capital. Some guys say the graffiti’s ugly, that it ruins everything. But there are also people who actually like it. They see it as art.

Some use the painting to show what they think. This can be about something political or a picture of a star or whatever. Sometimes it’s only a word, or an expression. These artists don’t see themselves as destroyers, they have to say something and see this as the only way to be heard/seen. You can’t miss the graffiti when it’s near a station, lots of people go to work by train every day. The more often they see it, the more they think about it. If they like it or not doesn’t matter, as long as they think about it. When there’s a discussion about graffiti on TV, they get more attention, more people to see their work. And like every artist, they’re proud of that.

But there are also some guys who do this only to provoke other people. To write bad things about someone or want to blame someone for something. This is a misuse of the graffiti and the real artists don’t want to get in touch with them. Those graffitis get more and more and maybe that’s why some people think graffiti destroys everything. Then people like Irmela Mensah-Schramm are asked. She is a freelancer and gave herself the job to clean the public places. When she sees some graffiti or carved words on a bench, she does everything to clean it. Unbelievable that she got in trouble with the police not just once because of this. For destroying! Unbelievable, isn’t it? So what do the people want? They don’t want anything with some words and graphics on, but they also don’t want someone to clean it for free.

I really like the sentence she once said in a video I watched about her:
Everything can be repaired, except the hurt human dignity.

So she is against these people who want to blame others, who really destroy things. It’s not on what they write, but what they write and how they write it. That’s a difference. So by cleaning the benches and walls and fences, less people can see and be hurt because of what’s written. I appreciate that Mensah-Schramm takes her time and does that cleaning. Before I found that German video coincidentally I did’t know that there are people who actually do this – and without being paid. This is another video I found about her, because of its English subtitles I chose that one to post here. But the other video can also be found on youtube. Just ask me when you want the link.

How do you think about it? Do you like graffiti? What do you think about Irmela Mensah-Schramm?


krystal lynn said...

I am amazed by her and any other person who takes the time to erase the hurtful or destructive graffiti.
I watch the TV show "House Hunt International" and one of the things I noticed was how prevalent Graffiti is outside the US. I saw a show filmed in Berlin and it was all over and the couple who was house hunting loved the graffiti.
In the USA my observation is that it is mostly in the bigger cities on overpasses, bridges and railroad cars..maybe sides of a building depending where you go. It was a big thing is Philadelphia and I saw some some graffiti that really was artful there. In San Diego the graffiti in the 80's appeared more gang-related but maybe that is just my impression. I guess beauty in Art is also in the eye of the beholder and I would not want to judge something as not being art when someone else can enjoy it. I do recognize some graffiti as having an artful flair and some I like, some I don't and then there is some that it is obvious right away it is destructive. Aside from that, if the building is mine I guess I can decorate it any way I like, but if it is not mine, do I have the right to paint it just because I am a artist? In the USA there are laws and some painting of graffiti would be illegal to do - is it legal in Germany?
I would say it is art, but should be done with respect to people and property. And God bless the people who clean up the harmful slogans and what not. Awesome post!

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

I really loved this post! It made me think about what is art, when it's OK to make it public art, etc.

As long as graffiti doesn't harm others, I believe it can be art. I do think artists should be respectful, though. And it's wonderful that there are people like Mensah-Schramm that are willing to clean up the hurtful stuff.

In the small town I live in, there's an artist that has done several murals on the walls of buildings, with the permission of the owners. I like them.

Sanny said...

I think as long as nobody gets hurt, it's okay. And of course you should have the permission. If everyone would write his or her opinion on every wall - how would our cities look like? But some do really good work and it can make a building more unique. I can't draw that well, and I appreciate the ones who can. I know a lot of graffitis - the most beautiful I have seen in Berlin so far - which I actually like.

Sanny said...

Also in Germany it's mostly seen in the bigger cities. Berlin has lots of graffiti - and some of them are really good and impressive. As far as I know, it's also forbidden in Germany. But some guys do it anyway. In Berlin also the trains are filled with graffiti - I once was on a train of which the windows were scratched with some words - that was way too much and not at all some kinda art. I totally agree with you that you should have the permission to do that and not just paint something on a wall only because you are an artist.

Sanny said...

I found this pic on the internet which is a really impressive graffiti. It has a 3-D effect.

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