As a photographer who shoots predominantly in natural environments, the prospect of shooting in a city was definitely intimidating. I can’t even remember the last time I photographed anything urban so that alone put me out of my comfort zone, not to mention the fact that I know relatively little about street art.
But when The Travel Project proposed the idea of travelling to Berlin & Prague to get a better idea of the way in which street art in these cities can inform your understanding of them, I had to do it. I’ve never been to Europe before even though it’s been on my list for years, and furthermore my Dad is half German. Whilst he never actually lived in Germany my Grandmother did, leaving just before the war to move over to Canada, so I grew up hearing stories of her childhood and the places she once called home.
What I discovered in these two cities utterly fascinated me. I don’t think you ever really consider why street art exists, you just accept that it’s there and it’s cool to look at, but going with the particular purpose of exploring the why made the experience, and my understanding of the cities, so much more worthwhile. Street art is an incredible outlet for people who wouldn’t normally have the chance to have their opinions heard. The pieces of art I saw reflected the spirit of the times, and in some instances the graffiti was 40-50 years old, so it’s really quite transformative seeing these snapshots of history frozen in time.
One particular piece that resonated with me in Berlin, was by an artist called ROA. It showed these very detailed dead animals hanging from the building, which although this sounds morbid was in fact quite beautiful. It made me visualize the city around me and get a feel for what it was like before people came and settled there. And this is what I really discovered about street art; the power it has to make you feel and think about things in a way you’ve never done before. It opens your eyes to a new city in an entirely new way.
So in that vein, I wanted to share some of the pieces of work I discovered on my Berlin, Prague & Vienna trip that captured my attention (and my lens) the most. And if you get the chance, go and see them for real. A picture’s worth a thousand words, but you can’t beat reality…