• by Anne Schmedding

In spring 1994, the exhibition SPRAY CITY – GRAFFITI IN BERLIN took place within the framework of the “X 94 – Young Art and Culture” festival of the Akademie der Künste. The book of the same name was published by Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf Verlag and was the first illustrated book on graffiti in the capital, which also provided background information and insights into the scene.
In the preceding research, the authors Oliva Henkel, Tamara Domentat and René Westhoff (DISZ) were able to immerse themselves in detail in the Berlin graffiti scene. In addition to comprehensive introductions and explanations, a large number of artists have their say in the ten chapters. Big names from the West Berlin scene such as ODEM, BEN, DANE, KAGE, POET, SHEK and SKUME are presented in portraits, as well as, for the first time, writers from East Berlin and some female sprayers from the capital.

photo: Sebastian Kläbsch

SPRAY CITY is not a chronicle, rather the richly illustrated volume shows a cross-section of protagonists and thus the status quo of the young Berlin scene. Furthermore, the New York origins are illuminated, the Berlin Wall and its significance for the scene are described by Michael Nungesser and LOOMIT places the city in an international context. But the tensions between the illegal and legal works are also discussed: representatives of the BVG, the Berlin police and the railway police give their views, and topics such as gang culture, criminal consequences and violence complement the content.

photo: Sebastian Kläbsch

The book, which was published in 1994, was an important stimulus for the graffiti scene in Germany as a whole. For the first time, it was possible to buy a book in bookstores nationwide that showed independent manifestations of the American phenomenon and authentically portrayed graffiti in a way that was comprehensible even to outsiders. The success of SPRAY CITY was followed by 13 more volumes in the now legendary GRAFFITI ART series published by Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf.

text: Sascha Blasche  photos: Sebastian Kläbsch

Find the book in the MCL