Back in 2007 and 2008, the italian artist known as Blu painted two huge murals on a lot at Cuvrystraße in Kreuzberg. One of the murals shows the torso of a man straightening his tie and wearing gold watches on both wrists which are connected by a chain. I call it the Golden Handcuffs.
The video below is a timelapse of the murals being done by Blu in Berlin.
It didn’t take long for this artwork to become emblematic and a symbol for that part of Kreuzberg. The art magazine Artnet News even consider it to be one of Berlin’s Top 5 Graffiti. And we all know that graffiti art has a special status in Berlin. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the city has been somewhat defined by it squatter and alternative culture. Going so far as to define Berlin with the slogan poor but sexy.
And when you arrive in Berlin, the presence of graffiti is almost mind-blowing. The first time I came to Berlin, I kind of knew what I wanted to see and I wanted to see Blu’s artwork at Cuvrystraße. I’m glad this was back in 2011 because most people that come to Berlin and want to see this beautiful mural in Kreuzberg will have to satisfy themselves with pictures of how it used to be.
But why this is happening? Some people believe it is because Berlin is selling its cultural identity to whoever pays the most. This is what Jascha Herr, a local resident that wants to save the murals, says about what is happening.
“The city of Berlin loves to promote its alternative scene – and more precisely the cultural value of its artists – but it simultaneously discards them. It is simply about selling to investors, who only see personal profit in the alternative landmarks of the city. But the cultural identity of the city belongs to all of us.”
Jascha Herr doesn’t want to see these murals gone. He even created an online petition with more than 6.000 signatures asking to place the murals under the monument protection. Something that the spokeswoman from the Senate Department for Urban Development, Petra Rohland, doesn’t think it is going to happen. Maybe, this mural is too young to be saved by the city.
Maybe the architectural firm Langhof and investor Artur Süsskind should find a way of saving it but I don’t think it is going to happen since their goal is to tear down the buildings on which the murals are painted and build 250 apartments, a kindergarten, a supermarket and an open-air terrace facing the Spree River.
This morning, I was feeling productive and decided to use this to go to the Cuvrystraße before going to work and take some pictures of the murals from Blu before there is nothing left there. The lot in front of the murals is already empty and there are fences everywhere. Soon, no more Blu in Berlin.
I don’t know how long it will take to empty the building where the murals stand but it can’t be long now. If you want to see it, do it before it is too late. This big murals from Blu can be seen at the corner from Schlesische Straße with Cuvrystraße in Kreuzberg.
12/12/2014 Update: It is gone by now. You can see a timelapse of its removal here.