There are limitless ways to spend your time during a visit to Berlin. You could visit one of the many wondrous museums and memorials. If that's not up your alley, you could hit up one of the lively night clubs or go gambling at one of the three party casinos located within Berlin's city limits. If you're feeling extra adventurous you could take a tour of Berlin's sublime street art and graffiti.
Berlin is a major hub of street art, in both Germany and Europe at large, and was one of the forces which led UNESCO to entitle Berlin “City of Design”. The districts of Fredrichshain and Kreuzberg, in particular, have become graffiti hotspots for both local artists, like El Bocho, as well as international such as Bansky and Blu.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was the major catalyst of the German street art scene. Once the wall was torn down Germans from both sides of the wall were able to turn the rubble, ruins, and military infrastructure into a playground of their own making. The graffiti of the time ranged from simple tags to elaborate and colorful murals with political undertones. Every type of surface, from walls to lamp posts and stairs, were transformed into urban canvases.
One of the street artists to emerge from the Berlin scene is Roland Brueckner. Brueckner used the alias “Linda's Ex” to do a series of posters and stencils of a young man bemoaning, “where's Linda” in 2003. Over the next few months, more and more of these enigmatic posters appeared around Berlin and continued to raise curiosity. Eventually, there was an ad in the newspaper that simply stated, “He loves you, Linda.” Eventually, Brueckner came forward and admitted he was “Linda's Ex” and that there was no actual “Linda”.
Plotbot is currently gaining recognition throughout Berlin for his elaborate stencils. His work work features an array of shadowy figures, often sporting hoods or gas masks. The backgrounds are apocalyptic visions of barren urban wastelands. His work can be found pasted on the walls of abandoned buildings and dilapidated industrial structures around the city.
Berlin's police force, for the most part at least, tolerates street art like the ones mentioned before. Though they do view graffiti as a crime, Chief Detective Marko Moritz has gone record in an interview as saying that his team mainly focuses on tagging crews or intentions are not artistic but are related to gang culture. Detective Moritz has become increasingly concerned about these tagging crews because more and more of them are starting to carry firearms.
Street art is among the multitude of interesting culture that Berlin has to offer the discerning culture. Whereas many cities view graffiti as a form of vulgar vandalism, Berlin has embraced it and has garnered international attention as a result. In Berlin, you don't have to visit a museum in order to view magnificent art, you can just walk down the street.
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