Review by Ann-Katrin Günzel
I leave my darkened apartment and sip coffee across the street while 1,500 cans are shaken across town…
… With those words, Larissa Kekule, freelance art critic and author, sets out to accompany the 1UP crew and Moses & TapsTM sprayers all night long. For three years she has been constantly on the road with them, in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Cologne, and now in her new book SIGNED, she reports on these forays, on observations, experiences and conversations, that initially led to the KUNSTFORUM BOOK WRITINGS NOW. Aesthetics of the Illegal (Vol. 260 / May-June 2019) has now led to this novel. The research on her approach to “an art in the field of tension between civil disobedience and the freedom of ‘nevertheless’,” as can be read in the spine of the book, is marked by the author’s great curiosity, an equally great desire to spend hours at a time waiting for the right time and finally an even greater pleasure in the work. When trains are plotted it is always an adventure with uncertain outcome, despite the most careful planning and arrangements.A very interesting report gives insight into the background and underground.
So you can learn a lot in these 300 pages about backflips and full droppers and the difference someone can make whether someone sprays the S-Bahn or the ICE. Larisa Kekule also comes to the point that spraying trains is mostly a collective action, a process that is planned and carried out together, in which it also becomes unimportant who draws lines, who draws who shoots and who watches.
This autobiographical story impresses with the author’s openness, her highly personal approach as an art historian who engages with questions of contemporary image viewing and comes to the conclusion that these illegal spray-paints in and of themselves exert a tremendous charm on them and give them a sense of calm. That there are people who corrupt (ruling) regimes. In doing so, she also demonstrates that it is about more than just a portrayal, as the disruptive nature of these illegal actions also reformulates the question of who owns the city. The problem of gentrification, now also known in small towns, and the criticism of landed property and unfair power relations, which is firmly entrenched in the capitalist system in Western societies, runs through many nightly conversations in a Berlin kebab shop and repeatedly points to graffiti as its subversion. Also the function of disorder, which is necessary to remind people in a democracy that besides the haves there are many poor and that social injustice is not due to social discussions by oppression but by nurturing and discussion can only be resolved in this way.
The book is published by dcv-Verlag, ISBN: 978-3-96912-121-4, more info: www.dcv-books.com
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