Beauty in Vandalism?

Before I left for my study abroad program, I made one promise to several people. I promised that I would take as many pictures as possible and post them all over social media.

To be honest, I lied. I knew when I was making the promise to my friends and family that I was definitely not going to keep it. This is because I’ve never really been the type to showcase myself or my everyday life. At least not unless I do so as a personal challenge or project to memorialize an experience.

For example, I took a picture every day of my senior year in high school and I posted these pictures on social media. The pictures were of candid moments with my friends. Moments that were more valuable than an occasional selfie of me looking off in the distance, with a scenic background behind me and an inspiration caption that I had Googled only moments before.

Those pictures ended up being amazing commemorations of the end to an eventful chapter in my life. So coming here, I knew that I wanted to have the same mentality while recording my experience. I wanted to record the small, not staged moments. I wanted to record the things and scenes that would not often be thought of as “picture-perfect.”

This was, at first, a real challenge for me because almost everything here in Lüneburg, and in the other cities I have visited, is beautiful and picturesque. It takes a lot to not take a picture that one can easily find in a Google image search and call it a day. But during a bus ride through Lüneburg, I took notice of something that I am usually oblivious to: graffiti.

 

be nice

Seid lieb” means “be nice.” This stencil can be found all over Lüneburg in many different colors.

 

In between picturesque buildings and monuments, there’s graffiti. Sometimes the graffiti is small stencils of a simple message or elaborate murals that seem to have been painted by multiple artists over a long period of time. These pieces are not really hidden, in fact it seems as if they are showcased because no one attempts to paint over them or reprimand the artists.

 

fav

My favorite section of the huge graffiti mural that is on the side of a local stadium.

 

One morning, my bus to school actually passed by a spray paint artist working on a small stump. She was doing this in broad daylight and was not stopped by anyone. The next day, her piece was done and it looked amazing.

 

end result

The end result of the broad daylight graffiti artist’s work.

 

Lüneburg is beautiful because it’s historic and “frozen in time.” But the modern graffiti seems to add to the overall aesthetic of the city. So I decided to make capturing graffiti (and candid moments) my way of recording my study abroad experience. I know that by recording my experience this way, I will always be able to look at any picture and put myself back in that exact moment, experiencing the same emotions.

 

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3 Comments

Filed under Bioreoluwasheto in Germany, Western Europe

3 responses to “Beauty in Vandalism?

  1. Great photos! And I like the topic of choice. But I wish I could read more about the artists you could have met, the public policies and city ordinances on public art etc. Do any of these pieces illustrate a historical account? Or are they trying to add some creative expression in overly uniform neighborhoods? What’s the message? I heard that public art is one of way of interpreting community expression. It might be interesting to look into censors issues in this regard. Great work!

    • Bioreoluwasheto in Germany

      Thank you! unfortunately, I have not have a chance to actually talk to any of the artists. There’s still a language barrier and I’ve only seen one person actually create a piece but I was on the move so I could not stop to talk to her haha. To my knowledge there is no historical significance to most of the graffiti in Luneburg (my host city). However, there are a lot with political statements that reference the refugee crisis, anti-facism, poverty etc. I did not include those because they would have been too explicit and/or political for this blog. As far as laws go, graffiti is apparently only punishable if it can be proven that the art work or the removal of the artwork damaged the surface underneath, this is according to Deutsche Welle a news outlet. Also, like I said in the post, there really does not seem to be an extensive effort to cover up graffiti as long as it’s not on castles, government buildings etc.. And, to answer your last question, every piece I have seen has its own meaning. Even on huge spaces like the East Side Gallery (What’s left of the Berlin wall) there are a variety of themes. I’ve visited about 4-5 German cities so far and the only stencil that seems to show up everywhere is one that says “refugees welcome!”. Hope this answers your questions! thanks for your comment:)

      • Very interesting stuff! I did some of my undergraduate research based on the history of Los Angeles’ Public Art scene. I recommend looking into the Judy Baca and the Chicano Mural Movement. Very fascinating. Thank you for responding to my questions! I look forward to your work 🙂 Best wishes.
        -Robert

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