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German City Starts Preserving Street Art!

German City Starts Preserving Street Art!

Should graffiti be preserved? In the case of Blek le Rat’s Madonna masterpiece in Leipzig, the city says yes and what begun back in the early 1990s as a true love story, has now become an original precedent!

Several years ago, Blek le Rat – who nowadays is regarded as a stencil art pioneer – spray-painted a Woman with Child on an apartment building in Leipzig. He dedicated the Madonna to Sybille, the woman he was in love with. Today, they are already married for 20 years and the stencil art piece is still there and it will stay there for at least the next decades!

The reason for that development is that the piece is now on Saxony’s state list of historical monuments! It’s a German precedent – whereas Great Britain (with Banksy) and Switzerland (with Harald Naegeli) already started preserving street art, in Germany nobody would have ever thought to classify certain street artworks as culturally valuable…

Typically, only bygone eras are represented on such lists, and it can take a long time for a monument to be chosen. But Le Rat’s Madonna was granted protected status in just three months. It’s not enough for a work to be recognized as high-quality art, it also should be representative of the time period it comes from. (dw.de)

In my eyes, this is a great story and although preserving street art works against the temporary character of street art, this Leipzig precedent could open more possibilities for artists to become more accepted in common opinion. It’s a perfect chance – we just need to use it!

Via Mazi Kretzschmar, thx!

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  1. This is fabulous news, this work in culturally and historically very important and I am so pleased it will be protected so future generations of art lovers will be able to see the work of Blek Le Rat

  2. Graffiti and street art gain their power from being ephemeral -
    their potential to surprise, grab one’s attention, provoke or be humorous lies in the fact that we find them in places where we do not expect them.

    Much street art is socio-political commentary – reflecting on contemporary issues – the pieces are so effective because they comment on the here and now, not tomorrow, not the past.

    Who decides to preserve what? Elites – council representatives who dismissed it for decades as vandalism and spent millions of tax payers’ money to remove undesirable graffiti; who are now in favour of preservation because it adds value to their city’s cultural landscape and attracts tourists.

    In situ preservation is not going to work – at least I hope it won’t, because street art and graffiti aren’t just pieces of art/symbols/tags on walls , they are the product of a thriving, living culture. It’s a heterogeneous culture, with individuals who naturally have different motivations (to reaffirm their existence, to communicate with others, to pass on a message, to have fun, to demonstrate their skills etc. etc.). But I think, it’s predominantly about freedom: of speech, artistic freedom, the freedom to be who one wants to be. Any attempts to preserve graffiti or street art in situ are utterly incompatible with the notion of freedom inherent in the graffiti culture.

    What to preserve? Not the pieces but document the process. There are already lots of interesting websites with photo archives, and there are books and TV documentaries out there which give an insight into graffiti culture.

    How to preserve? Any attempts to protect pieces with Perspex or whatnot will hopefully simply be considered as additional playground to transform and change that what was never meant to stay.

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Urban Art Core is your independent, international source for street art, graffiti and urbanism from around the world, mainly focused on stories, news and actions taking place in urban environments.

It spreads the urban Berlin voice loud and clear to metropolises far and wide and celebrates the urban arts, urban exploration movement and guerilla art interventions with news about artists, trends and exhibitions, since 2009.

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