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?