Criminal Art

“Today is Thursday, half past three in the morning. I am awake. The fourth night in a row. The alarm is set for half past one, so, out of bed. Cold? Tired? Never mind. I need to get out. I need to know when the guards are doing their rounds. We want to make the project colorful, but we need to know, when these suckers take a break. That’s part of it. Here we are meticulous. Here we are careful. Everything else would be dangerous. No mails, no mobiles. Everything face to face. The SoKo is everywhere. They want our ass, but we are smarter. Smart, fast and careful.” – Graffiti Artist documented in “Unlike U” 
Welcome to the berlin-artparasites Urban Art: Graffiti Edition week. You’ve seen it all over the city – from elaborate designs along underground tunnels and underneath bridges, to random scrawling on your grandma’s postal box. Is graffiti really a form of art? This question is a hotly debated topic. This week berlin-artparasites will examine this question and pay tribute to the decades long graffiti art scene in Berlin through interviews, exhibition reviews and features documenting our own adventures following along the clandestine trails of graffiti artists in Berlin. But first, we want to highlight a film, “Unlike U – Trainwriting in Berlin” that delves into the Berlin graffiti scene – particularly the late night, early morning, and seemingly spontaneous graffiti on Berlin S and U-Bahn.
This film transcends both personal and temporal boundaries as it follows closely on the heels of long-time graffiti artists in Berlin. Treading along the lines of legality, it aims to get into the mind of these artists and show why they practice an art that often verges on criminality and forces them out of bed at odd hours. How does one handle the adrenaline of rushing in to spray a train while the surveillance guard is on a five minute cigarette break, or that of being sworn into a highly secretive, territorial and competitive graffiti crew? This film helps gain insight into the nature of graffiti art and the artists themselves… and interestingly enough, the film itself is currently battling legal issues as the disgruntled Berlin transport service, known as the BVG, has sued the filmmakers. We’ll keep you updated on what happens next.