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Graffiti in Marzahn-Hellersdorf

In the summer of 1985, the film Beat Street is released in East German cinemas. It becomes a huge success and marks the beginning of a hip hop youth culture in the GDR. The popularisation of breakdancing, but also of graffiti as an element of hip hop, is unstoppable. However, a graffiti scene that formed crews and sprayed on the streets only formed after the fall of the Wall. Marzahn and Hellersdorf offered the perfect conditions in the 1990s: The countless grey concrete surfaces and a youth on the streets looking for perspectives and identity.

Die Dessauer Breakdance Crew Syntonic Force mit backpiece, gemalt von Bork Schaetz alias Syntonic Bork, um 1988
Die Dessauer Breakdance Crew Syntonic Force mit backpiece, gemalt von Bork Schaetz alias Syntonic Bork, um 1988 © Foto: Archiv Nico Raschick / "Here We Come", Bernhard Schmidt (beatschmidt)

What is behind this youth culture? What drove and still drives young people to take up public space more or less illegally? How did the state and society deal with it at different times? Is graffiti political? Art or vandalism?

The exhibition tells the story of this youth culture, which has been stirring up emotions for decades, and explains key concepts of graffiti. The presentation focuses on numerous graffiti that were sprayed on walls, along railway lines and on trains at the time. Even a graffiti wall made especially for this exhibition is on display. Actors from the scene have their say in texts, audio and video stations, and original objects bring the zeitgeist of the 1990s back to life.

Visitors are invited to express their opinions on graffiti and to become artistically active themselves.

For the first time in an exhibition, the district museum also provides texts in easy language and videos in sign language.