For many years Berlin was our 2nd city
We could leave our home in down town Copenhagen at 6:30 am, take the bus at 7 am, have breakfast on the boat around 8:30 and lunch in Kreuzköln at 1 pm. So even if we didn’t live in Copenhagen anymore it was an obvious choice for me to celebrate my 50th anniversary there in 2012.
One of my presents was a guided city tour.
Why on earth should I waste time on a touristic tour in a city I considered as my home town?
As usual I was very sceptical and arrogant.
But my arrogance only lasted until I met Benjamin from Main, US – our guide for the afternoon.
The theme of the tour was Street Art and Benjamin (aka MadGay) was a street artist himself and part of the Berlin street art crowd. He not only knew all the art pieces around town. He knew all the artists where many of them were his personal friends.
From MadGay got to know all about who did what and why. He knew all the secrets, the technics behind each piece, references to works in other countries, to references music etc.
It was MadGay who introduced us to Vhils who at that time had a couple of walls that were part of a ‘secret’ campaign financed by Levis. MadGuy new some of the portrayed persons 🙂
So why all this writing about street art in Berlin?
The thing is that like most tourists we succumb to our habits.
Like in Lisbon where ee tend to walk in the same circles, eat at the same restaurants, visit the same galleries, shop the same places etc.
Most of the time when we decide to go sightseeing, we do the historical tour, the one-district-at-a-time-tour, the drinking tour, or the Monument-Big-Five tour.
By having street art as our theme we follow the artist’s food steps – and their food steps are not logical. They are always looking for walls, and spaces where they can express themselves with their graffiti, their tags, their stencils and their art.
MadGay took us through places we wouldn’t have found ourselves. We jumped fences, went inside forgotten yards, jumped busses, and had drinks in bars we didn’t know existed and met people that belonged to a different time 🙂
So to me my present was not a guided tour. It was a rediscovery of my favourite city.
Today street art means something different to me than it used to do before my Berlin experience.
It’s not just street art. It’s a key to open different layers in a city. If you find the key and start noticing all the visual art that surrounds the city, you will discover things you can’t read in books.
When you start looking UP, or DOWN or BEHIND you will find things you wouldn’t have would have seen or experienced if it wasn’t for the art form.
First the ancient art pieces – the tile art that you find everywhere in Lisbon. Some of them are so beautiful that the Tile Tradition MUST be the reason why you have so much fantastic Urban Art in Lisbon.
The link between the tile tradition and the street art is my own
Some of the old tile art works you find around town are almost street art before the spray cans. My theory is that it’s because of the Portuguese tile tradition that the quality of the Urban art scene in Lisbon is so much higher compared to most of the other international cities we have visited the last 10 years.
Underdogs is a cultural platform based in Lisbon, Portugal that aims at creating space within the contemporary art scene for artists connected with the new languages of urban-inspired graphic and visual culture, fostering the establishment of partnerships and collaborative efforts between creators, cultural agents, exhibition venues and the city, contributing to establish a close relationship between these and the public.
Created in 2010 and consolidated in its present form since 2013, the Underdogs project rests on three complementary areas: an art gallery; a public art programme; and the production of original and affordable artist editions.
For more information go to Underdog’s Website
You don’t need a guide to investigate the Lisbon Art Scene
Lisbon has organised street art tours. And I’m sure they add something to the whole experience if you walk with them.
But you don’t need a guide like we did in Berlin.
Thank’s to Alexander Farto – aka Vhils – whose street art has shown the international scene completely new ways of creating art and collaborating with artists – Lisbon has reached a position on the international level that attracts all the best artists in the world.
All of them are here – and those who’s not here yet, will come.
Through Alexander Farto’s Underdogs Project travellers (and us residents) have the possibility of breaking our sightseeing patterns and visit (or revisit) the city in unpredictable ways.
You just follow the Underdog Public Art Tour – it will not only take you through some amazing art – it will also take you through some of the most important tourist sights.
If you want to read about the art and the artist you will see along the way, all the information are here.
And you can find all the works on the map we made for ourselves. This map works on your mobile and tablet 🙂