Berlin’s thriving street art scene exemplifies the city’s embrace of Alternative culture. The streets of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain are a distinct homage to the creatives who much of Berlin’s character of freedom is founded upon. From the East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall with murals painted over it, to the sides of buildings, there is compelling street art on nearly every corner! Graffiti artists and muralists from around the world, as well as locally, have come to decorate the streets of Berlin with colorful, large-scale pieces. Running through these streets you’ll not only see some amazing art, but also get a truer glimpse of life as a Berliner!
Street art in Berlin often represents a unity within the city. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, artists flocked to paint the east side of the wall, which had previously remained blank. One of the most recognizable of these pieces is Mein Gott, hilf mir, diese tödliche Liebe zu überleben (My God, Help Me to Survive this Deadly Love) which depicts German and Soviet politicians engaged in a kiss inspired by a photograph taken in 1979. The mural symbolizes the union between both sides of wall, as well as the simultaneous differences between them under Allied and Soviet jurisdiction. Similarly, pieces like “Astronaut/Cosmonaut” on Oranienstraβe and “Wrestlers” on Friedrichstraβe, take on dichotomies. The spaceman bears no markings of the American or Soviet’s who give him his name, and additionally has no face to be recognized. While these nations were engaged in the Space Race, this piece can be interpreted as an homage to the progress achieved and discoveries by both national space programs. And, the colourful piece depicting wrestlers can be seen as a symbol of the struggle between people and nations, always in a tenuous balance, competing to overtake one another. While the wrestlers are suspended in motion, they are frozen, each with the same goal and physically joined together—a fight for peace, but ironically, with only one victor.
Along the way, we will engage with several other murals and establishments along the lively streets of Kreuzberg and Fredrichshain, discussing the history, interpretations, and impact of alternative arts in Berlin.