What makes us tick
Over the last two decades, the importance and recognition of the Urban Art movement has become increasingly visible worldwide. The term urban art was used sporadically in the 90s in the field of graffiti and today attempts to unite various art forms in public space, whether sculptural, conceptual interventions in urban space, wall paintings (muralism), street art or graffiti writing. The extent to which it is the largest art movement of the 21st century continues to be discussed. One thing is certain: Urban Art intervenes in the urban space of a city, participates in urban design, is a means of communication between citizens and visitors of the city and interacts with their fast-moving lives and changes. It is a form of communication and mediation of artistic positions for everyone. It surprises, stimulates, embellishes, disturbs or annoys, in any case it is alive and leaves no one indifferent. The common global pictorial language shared by many artists is cross-national, cross-cultural and cross-generational. Thus urban art, beyond the visual arts, can be an important medium for education, upbringing and mediation.

In many countries large institutions now support Urban Art projects, important museums and galleries show exhibitions and present Urban Art artists, publications appear, cities invite to festivals, biennials and fairs take place.
Berlin: Central Place of Urban Art
Berlin plays an important role for this art movement. It has long been regarded as a Mecca by the international scene, where graffiti became part of the cityscape in the 1970s and many gable and façade paintings were created. In divided Berlin, the Wall became the largest graffito in the world. It was sprayed and painted, and in what was then West Berlin graffiti writing spread rapidly in the 1980s through the hip hop movement originating in the USA. In the course of the reunification it spread to East Berlin and there was a real graffiti boom. From the mid-1990s onwards, increasingly visual artists conquered urban space with new surprises, and from around 2000 Street Art artists left their mark on urban space with new visual languages and techniques. Movement developed into a true worldwide phenomenon.

For many years, Berlin has stood for a subversive energetic art scene, and this reputation brings many artists and tourists to the capital. A whole series of murals has attracted international attention and the images have become true tourist magnets and landmarks of the city. This has also been recognized by the state of Berlin and Urban Art has been used for several years for international city marketing.

The URBAN ART WEEK now wants to support the places and initiatives that have been dealing with Urban Art for years and that have been driving the movement forward with a larger platform, as well as younger initiatives.
The local actors
The important actors of the urban art scene in Berlin are long-time active representatives of the older and younger generation. Distributed throughout the city, they have been organizing individual events for many years. In the mid-1990s, several artists who intervened in urban space lived in Tacheles. Jürgen Große’s Urban Art Info Gallery in 2001 was an important meeting point and laboratory for international artists active in urban space. The “Backjumps” exhibition series from 2003 onwards at Kunstraum Bethanien (with the first officially painted firewalls) opened up new ways. Also the Neurotitan in Haus Schwarzenberg with temporary exhibitions, the former Stattbad Wedding with studios and gallery, the Stroke Art Fair, the Urban Affairs Festival, the Urban Spree on the RAW site, and also the ZK/U – Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik, all contributed a large part to support and promote this art movement in Berlin. Initiatives such as the Hip Hop Stützpunkt (From Here To Fame), the Verein Berlin Massive or the Graffiti Lobby Berlin (which organized the first Graffiti Congress and presentation of graffiti in the House of Representatives) have contributed to international artist exchange and recognition of graffiti culture with workshops, festivals and hip hop jams. StreetUniverCity has long expanded its youth work with graffiti writing, including the graffiti archive. Specialized galleries such as the Circle Culture Gallery, ATM Gallery, JR Gallery, the show Fenster, BC Gallery or Open Walls play the city with an international exhibition program. Organizations and artist agencies such as Street Art Berlin, Circus of Styles, 0815 Design and XI Design paint fire walls (murals) throughout the city and realize art projects. All these actors work locally as well as nationally and internationally, and also with the goal of supporting Berlin artists. The work of the scene is accompanied by numerous publications and blogs on the topic. In Berlin-Schöneberg, the first Museum for Urban Contemporary Art opened in 2017, which wants to prove its claim as a representative of the art form. The Street Art project of Berlin Art Bang e.V. in the same year has shown with the project “TheHaus” what incredible artistic energy and great potential there is in the Berlin urban art scene and how interested people are when they are invited to experience it. The “Berlin Mural Fest” left over 20 new firewall designs in the city in 2018 and celebrated with block parties. More information about the Urban Art scene in Berlin can be found on the website of the “Kreis der urbanen Szene”:
Why an Urban Art Week in Berlin?
To this day, Berlin has not yet had a regular, comprehensive festival for the mediation of the various art forms of Urban Art. In other cities in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Russia, India, Morocco, Lebanon and also Germany (Cologne), annually recurring Urban Art formats are part of the art program.

Berlin is extremely important here, however, because many artists developed new styles and techniques, and the urban space always offered many possibilities and freedoms for artistic expression.

It is now time to bundle the participants and networks gathered under this format and to show the Berliners and our guests that the actors in Berlin appreciate their urban arts and artists and will try together to convey the diversity of the art movement, knowledge and also critical questioning by means of various programme items.
What does the new format offer?
The URBAN ART WEEK is the first comprehensive format of Berlin’s Urban Art scene, developed by the Urban Art Working Group, which was founded in 2017 and is made up of twelve participating organizations of the scene. Together with the Berlin Senate, it has managed to form the Urban Art Round Table. The URBAN ART WEEK will unite all important comrades-in-arms of the scene in Berlin with a joint performance with various program items over a period of eight days. The various art forms of Urban Art will be presented here, with the focus on artistic quality and diversity. The aim is to sensitize a broad audience to these art forms, to inform them and to communicate their contents. The association of the participants, who have been interwoven with this worldwide art movement for short or long, will contribute on the one hand to reaching a larger audience and on the other hand to new exchange and future collaborations. The long-term goal of the working group Urban Art and thus of the URBAN ART WEEK is the sustainable networking, promotion and communication of this art movement. This takes place on the one hand through support for the artistic creation of artists and on the other hand through the mediation of Urban Art through a broad public relations work. The URBAN ART WEEK will take place from 5.09. to 12.09.2019 and will offer a varied free program for a wide audience throughout Berlin every day. A programme flyer with a city map and a website ( in German and English accompany the format.

Texts: Katia Hermann
Don Karl and Jochen Küpper