Before we left for Berlin I exchanged emails with the fellow blogger over at Urban Liaisons, who alerted me to the street art of Berlin. A cursory look at the web after this told me that Urban Spree, located at the corner of Warschauer Strasse and Revaeler Strasse is one of the places to visit. We took the S-bahn to the Warschauer Strasse station and walked up to the area. I had not realized that this is just the edge of a vast and decayed industrial area now given over to low-rent bars, music, leisure activities and street art.
From Warschauer Strasse one can take a flight of stairs down to the neighbourhood. You have to walk around an open pebbled yard to come to the entrance to the gallery. This is inside a building whose walls are painted in tame street-art style (see the featured photo). Next to this a gate with its signs tells you that you are entering a space where someone is trying very hard to put order into an untamed art form.
The impression is strengthened when you see the entrance to the gallery space. The door which you see above is a border between two worlds. Outside is a riot of colours, with artists painting over each other’s works: an acknowledgement that everything that is done is impermanent. The post-industrial world of Bruce Sterling’s stories seem to have taken root outside. Inside is a little gallery which is run by Pascal Feucher. We had a little chat with him as we sipped some early-season gluhwein which we found in the little indoor bar.
He is very enthusiastic about his plans to showcase the energy you see outside. When you talk to him you realize the strong divide between the art market and the artist. The artists whom we watched on the streets of Berlin are doing the modern equivalent of starving in their cold garrets, because there is a rich world of art trade which has not yet connected to their work. Pascal is banking on the hope that the connection will be made, and that Urban Spree will be the gateway.
I’m more excited by the art than by the market. That is probably the reason that I’m not a collector. So we spent more time outside. It was too late in the year to sit in the outdoor area and drink a beer. But we could admire the art work in the biergarten.
Off in one corner an artist was at work. Was she one of the residents at Urban Spree? This is one of the interesting activities that Pascal has put together. She looked too busy for us to involve her in a chat. I wouldn’t want to be her person from Porlock.
The special thing about this space is the pebbled yard beyond the biergarten. Where Warschauser strasse starts to climb, a wall appears. This serves as a canvas for the artists in residence. Nicole Feucher told us about an informal arrangement with the owners: the Goettinger Kurth Group. They do not currently object to the use of this space by artists. As a result, Urban Spree can use this Artist’s Wall as a kind out outdoor advertisement for their monthly show. When we visited, Tavar Zawacki’s month was just over.
The Family and I were enchanted by the artwork on this wall. You can take a closer look at them by clicking on the gallery above. The Artist’s Wall is not visible from the street. You have to come into the yard to see it.
What is visible from the street are the works here. My favourite was the Toucan which you can see in the photo above. The use of discarded machinery to texture the feathers is wonderful.
The Family drew my attention away to the undersea world painted by Urku which you can see in the photo above. We admired it together for a while before moving on.
A young boy was kicking at the gravel while admiring this painting on the walls of a shed. When he left, we went and stood where he was, bang center of the painting, and took the photo which you can see above.
We moved back through the unpainted gate next to this colourfully glowing kiosk. The Family posed for a photo in front of it. When I’d done that, I moved back and took a photo of the area with the kiosk in the center. All these paintings are ephemeral. By now a completely different set of paintings would have replaced the ones that you see here.