25 February 2010

Trash or treasure

Until recently a lot of buildings in Copenhagen was being renovated, and "cleaned up". Mainly because the real estate market was inflating like crazy, and everybody wanted to make a profit. House walls were touched up and evened out, becoming the number one canvas to a new generation of mural painters. There are words of wisdom up there, likely applied upside down, or at least in the dark, probably with no safety measures. And some of this work even has the potential to become landmarks, if left untouched. But of course the very nature of the game is that there are no rules, and nothing is sacred.

As the writing on the wall states, one man's trash is another man's treasure. The opposite is also true today, that what some people treasure, others trash. It is visible all the way from the government, showing blatant disregard for large groups of people, and down to the streets, striking back the same way. However if the objective is to coexist in peace, a mutual understanding is necessary, that some things should just be left alone.

Turning the ordinary into something extraordinary.

The bridge is a landmark, and should be recognised as sacred ground. But so, of course, should
Christiania and the Youth House, and so it goes. On and on.


  1. some of the paintings, graffiti, collages on walls are so beautiful. last summer the fondation cartier pour l'art contemporain in paris celebrated these street artists with a big exhibition. here in NY it's a landmark, ny wouldn't be ny without street art. and recently in an art gallery i saw a keith haring graffiti, that was obviously removed from a street wooden fence, FRAMED!!!, and probably selling for a lot of money. things to think about. should street art remain on the streets and disappear or should it be sold for millions (or thousands) in chic art galleries?

  2. I agree. I am a big fan of street art. And I think this blue dragon should stay there forever. I love the idea that some of the street art made today will live on as a landmark. What bugs me is when every single surface is covered with tags and spraypaint. Like here:

    and some of the "work" on the bridge here:

    It is so strange that you are supposed to be in one of two camps, either you support all, or you hate all. I don't belong in any of thse groups. Now I have not been in New York for a while (sigh), but I am pretty sure if someone covered the Empire State Building in tags and spraypaint, it would not go over well...

    I am so happy you posted this comment here. :-) Sandra

  3. yes, on the empire state building, or worse on the chrysler building, it would bother me. In Paris, there are street artists too and they are doing a great job, painting on ugly surfaces and leaving the rest. it's become somewhat very interesting. you wouldn't think of paris being a city for graffiti, but it fits so well. when it's not meant to destroy but enhance the city, it's quite great. of course, there's also the challenge of painting difficult areas, and the police. well this is complicated, i agree with you, but art is complicated, right?

  4. The danger is half of the sport, I am told. It is funny because in all other big cities the street artists/writers has a fine tuned sense of where to make their mark, and more importantly where not to. It is different in Copenhagen, for some reason.

  5. I'm seeing this post for the first time, but I love mural arts in cities on the sides of buildings. It feels like home to me - I was living in Philadelphia for many years and they have an extremely well develop program called the Mural Arts Program (http://muralarts.org/). It started as a way to channel graffiti artists' energies into something more positive that the whole city could benefit from. They are everywhere and they are fantastic.

    Also, though I am now living in Copenhagen, I read that there was recently another artist making love letter murals that could be viewed from the elevated train line in the not-so-pretty part of the city. (http://www.aloveletterforyou.com/?page_id=198).

    Lastly, in Philadelphia there are also a lot of buildings decorated in mosaics by the artist Isaiah Zagar. (http://www.phillymagicgardens.org/) Somehow I think you might appreciate all of these things!!

  6. Lauren Bolinger, my new hero, thank you for introducing me to this fantastic program! What an inspiration, and something Copenhagen could learn from too. I now want to go to Philadelphia and see them all for myself. You are so right, this is something I appreciate more than you can imagine. Murals make me feel alive and at home too, no matter where I am in the world. I hope that Copenhagen is kind to you, and that you feel at home here.


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