• by Anne Schmedding

Kreuzberg 36: In the Wassertorkiez, six ONE WALLS cover the building facades. These monumental images were realized as part of the project “ONE WALL – one wall, one artist, one message”. Since 2014, the URBAN NATION Museum has been inviting internationally renowned artists to engage with their respective surroundings, spreading messages through their images and thus linking art and the neighbourhood.

How are these messages perceived there – especially by children? And how would it be if the children themselves explored their own environment and designed it with their personal messages?

“It’s a world without colors. The gun brings back the colors. It shoots all the time and then everything becomes colorful,” says Bilal, for example, about his work.

MY ONE WALL by Bilal (photo: Sebastian Kläbsch )

In the project “MY ONE WALL”, wall motifs were created in October 2021 that not only occupy the walls – they also give children a voice in their own neighborhood and invite them to reflect on the world through children’s eyes. The students of class 4d were accompanied by the artist Markus Georg @markeasy_ and the teacher André Schuhmann from the Otto-Wels-Grundschule – the project was supported by the Berlin Project Fund for Cultural Education, @kulturprojekteberlin, the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and the Stiftung Berliner Leben.

“I printed out a trash bag and used colorful circles and squares. The squares and circles are supposed to be the garbage. If we throw garbage on the ground and don’t pay attention to the earth, it gets hotter and hotter, then the ice melts and then the penguins and the polar bears die,” Mina explains her picture and Lukas tells, “I drew a sun with balls. Then I made strokes. The smallest stroke shows what I love. […] The balls are printed, cut out and colored.” In contrast, Danyal is preoccupied with the issue of violence: “There is a fist on my wall. A lot of people get hurt, most in Kreuzberg. You can see that I am against violence. I made this picture because I don’t want violence to be around here. I used tape and glue dots. The red thing is supposed to be the X, like on a prohibition sign.”

MY ONE WALL by Danyal (photo: Sebastian Kläbsch )

The children’s statements show that they have implemented a message in a plastic way. With the project, they not only got to know an art form and its techniques, but also experimented with them. In addition to a neighborhood tour of the ONE WALLS, the children received an overview of the history of street art and together visited the exhibition “Martha Cooper – Taking Pictures” at the URBAN NATION Museum. In an eventful tour, they were able to discover the work of the photographer, “a body of work that not only documented the development of graffiti, street art and hip-hop culture, but is also responsible for the worldwide attention of this subculture,” emphasizes Markus Georg.

Markus Georg showing a ONE WALL to kids (photo: Sebastian Kläbsch)

The young artists soon became up-and-coming reporters of their own experiences and thoughts: Which topics occupy them most and which would they choose for their mural? And this is where the heart of the project beats – Markus Georg aptly describes: “But even if the ONE WALLS are part of the children’s ‘visual daily routine`, an examination of the contents of these was important and right. After all, it is often topics that are relevant to the children, such as equality, diversity or simply love, that are dealt with there in large format.”

The collaboration between the class teacher and the artist and mediator continued in the school: “In preparation for this, a kind of gallery tour took place in the class. Here the children were able to experience the ONE WALLS they had already seen once again as large-format prints and, along the way, had the opportunity to write down thoughts and associations about them…”

The children were then able to start working on their murals, choosing from thirteen different black-and-white poster motifs depicting various house walls from the neighborhood. “With these templates, the children not only had the opportunity to work in large format, they also had to adapt some of their designs to the unusual proportions of the walls.” And thus motifs were created as “paste-ups” (wallpapered pictures made from individual parts), as “stencils” using the stencil technique, as “tape” with adhesive tape and as mosaics, line drawings or prints.

Kiezstube MY ONE WALL posters (photo: Sebastian Kläbsch )

With short texts, the children explained what they wanted to pass on with their designs and presented their own projects to the large group at the end: “People are the way they are! I have painted two people, a woman and a man. They have different clothes […]. And different hair colors and shoes,” Güven explains. The subjects chosen are as diverse as the children’s personalities: “I have painted many women and girls here. A doctor, a policewoman […] It’s supposed to say: you can close your eyes and think anything and be anything and wish for anything,” says Elif. [Fig Elif] The communal life, social, poetic disputes, the burning issues of corona and climate were taken up here, as well as shaping the future, fulfilling one’s dreams and strength in fragility.

“There was a flower that saw a snowflake. Then the snowflake hurt it and the flower got sick. It lost its leaves and became a cactus,” Beysa says.

MY ONE WALL by Danyal (photo: Sebastian Kläbsch)

Not only the children have grown from this project, but also the neighborhood. The children’s compositions were attached to the building facades and their posters are exhibited in an external learning space, the Kiezstube at Kastanienplatz.

“My ONE WALL” was realized in October 2021 by artist Markus Georg aka @markeasy_ and teacher André Schuhmann. The project is supported by the Berlin Project Fund for Cultural Education @kulturprojekteberlin & the district Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, as well as the Foundation Berliner Leben.

Bezirksamt Friedrichshain- Kreuzberg
Berliner Projektfonds Kulturelle Bildung
Stiftung Berliner Leben

Artist: Mark Georg
Photos: Sebastian Kläbsch

Text: Geneviève Debien

You can download our blanco walls here: