2015 | 140 x 100 cm | mixed technique on screen printing

The Spirit Of Munich

Today's post has nothing to do with art or literature, today it is all about my hometown and its citizens.
Traditionally citizens of Munich are known for their grumpiness, we don't wish each other 'a nice day', we complain about the weather and almost everything else constantly and it takes some time to befriend a Muenchener. But when worse comes to worst you can count on the heart being in the right place. The city's unofficial motto is 'To live and let live' and when the situation demands it Munich will show its true colors.

Over the last ten days Munich saw the arrival of over 40.000 refugees from various warzones. The why and how notwithstanding all of a sudden we were confronted with thousands of people arriving right in the city centre. Nobody seemed to have any sort of emergency plan and apart from a few local officials nobody seemed to care.

Calls for help were issued and Munich reponded massively. The citizens of Munich donated food, water, toys, clothes and other stuff at such volume that more than once the donations exceeded storage capacities. People signed up to do volunteer work on the spot just wanting to help.

The pictures included in this post show private citizens distributing supplies they paid for with their own money during their spare time, all through the day and late at night. The quality sucks but the pictures were taken in a clandestine fashion in order not to embarrass anyone.

After donating water and cookies twice, my wife and I have decided to sign up for a volunteering shift at Munich Central Station Saturday evening. There is nothing that prepares you for the sheer dimensions of an operation of that size.

On Saturday 13.000 people were welcomed and processed, old people, families with little children, teenagers travelling alone, the lot. Most of them tired, weary and disoriented, with as many of their posessions as they could carry. Handing out water, bananas and candy bars isn't really a lot but at least it is something.

Taking personal initiative and helping each other out have a long tradition in Munich and the events of the last few days have made me deeply proud of both my city and the people who live in it.

Why Graffiti Is Important

The upright citizens keep repeating how much of a nuisance graffiti is, how much material damage 'those vandals' are causing and how much of a better world an environment without graffiti would be. Granted, some graffiti is just the mindless smearing of a slogan or whatever on a wall. A lot of it however is finely crafted works of art that took a substantial amount of time to plan, sketch and execute, all the while trying not get caught and working in less than perfect circumstances (late at night, in darkness, in dangerous places like beside railroad tracks, underneath flyovers, etc.).

When I look at graffiti from a train or while walking or driving I am reminded that we live in a society that allows certain things, like it or not, and graffiti is one of the things a liberal society has to put up with. Period. If not the only way to effectively avoid graffiti is by creating an atmosphere of fear through drakonian measures enforced by high frequency police presence. That clean society would automatically become a fascist society, clean, maybe with clean trains running on time but with no freedom. If I get to a new place and see graffiti by the railroad tracks, on the motorway walls and in public spaces I feel like smiling because I know that that place is alive.

These days graffiti is not the outcry of the underpriviliged that it might have been in some places in the very beginning, today the public space is just a huge canvas waiting to be claimed and painted on by those possesing the skills and the guts, sometimes both, to do so.

I look at graffiti and I am always reminded of a natural forest, where the very minute you stop weeding out the undesirables, the underbrush takes over because that's the way the world works. Instead of trying to preserve an unnatural state of cleanliness we should try and roll with it by developing an appreciation for graffiti art. That appreciation would also be pretty likely to help improve the overall aestetic quality of works of graffiti.

I myself have never dabbled in grafitti, or streetart for that matter, because it just never was my scene. I have however derived great amounts of inspiration from it and it is fair to say that graffiti has had its part in shaping the way we look at the world today.

Graffiti is also historically important because it is one of the four pillars of hip hop, probably the only art form that truly emerged from the underground in the past decades.

No matter how hard 'they' try, graffiti proves that complete control is an illusion. I take comfort in that.

Some Kind Of Monster

2012 | 100 x 70 cm | acrylics, water colors, pen,
Molotov markers on screen printing board

Solo Show 'Stuck In The Middle' in Munich

Paintings and digital exhibition 24 APR - 31 MAI 2015

Digital exhibition starts daily tuesday thru sunday at 6pm (click here to watch trailer)

Private view 23 APR 2015 (please send an email to root(at) for an invitation)

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Bayerstr. 3-5 / 80336 Munich
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