Geschrieben am 29. August 2012 von für Kunst, Litmag

Ein Gespräch mit den Kuratoren der Streetart-Ausstellung „Silence is a lie“

Kunst in den Straßen

Detektiven ähnelnd, streichen Eingeweihte durch die großen Städte der (vornehmlich westlichen) Welt – sie sind auf der Suche. Bewaffnet mit Kameras und ausgezeichnet mit dem geschultem Blick im Club der Wissenden funktionieren Sie dank Flickr und Facebook als Kulturattachés für eine heterogene Streetart Szene. Baudrillard hat sich 1978 geirrt als er in seinen Ausführungen: „Kool Killer oder Der Aufstand der Zeichen“ behauptete, die Bewegung sei „praktisch vorbei“, sie hatte gerade erst begonnen.

Zwei junge Kuratoren haben sich in Berlin der Sache angenommen und so sind noch bis zum 30.09.2012 im Berliner SEZ Exponate von 130 internationalen Künstlern in einer Urban Art Ausstellung zu sehen. Die Architektin Mustar und der Streetartist Alaniz haben sich zur Aufgabe gemacht, die Kunst aus den Straßen in ungewöhnliche Ausstellungsräume zu übertragen. Ob das glückt?

Israel im Gespräch mit den Verantwortlichen der Ausstellung „Silence is lie”, Alesa Mustar und Emanuel Alaniz. (Siehe auch CM vom 18.4.2012 zu dem Streetartist Brad Downey).

NADJA ISRAEL: Would you explain to me who you are and what you do.

ALESA MUSTAR: I have studied architecture but I have always had a special interest in art in open spaces, and through my husband Emmanuel Alaniz, whom I met in Argentina, I delved into Street Art.

ISRAEL: Where did you meet?

MUSTAR: In Buenos Aires.

ISRAEL:  But we are in Berlin now. Why did you move to Berlin?

MUSTAR: I think because of Street Art. I had worked as a graphic designer and architect over there but it was really hard to make a living, for him as a Street Artist even more so, especially since he hadn’t done art in college. One day we sat down together to make plans for our future and when we got to speaking about the possibility of moving to Europe, we realized that Berlin would be the best choice. It is truly a hot spot for Street Art.

ISRAEL: You are currently running an exhibition. Where is it? What is it?

MUSTAR: The exhibition is in the so-called SEZ, on the corner of Landsberger Allee and Danziger Straße. In the former GDR, it was a popular sports centre. Then in 2003 somebody bought and renovated it. Now, part of it can be used as exhibition space. Our exhibition „Silence Is A Lie“ is spread out over more than 1000m² and its focus lies on Urban Art. We chose the term Urban Art in order to distance ourselves a little bit from Street Art or graffiti. 130 national and international artists sent us their artwork. We feature Street Art in the commons sense but also include works on paper, wheat pastes or canvas.

ISRAEL: You said you wanted to distance yourself from graffiti, what do you mean by that?

EMANUEL ALANIZ: That means, like Alesa said, to create distance but not to break entirely with the common ground that both movements share. This was what the owner of the place had in mind though. He wanted to differentiate between Urban Art and Graffiti. For me it is impossible to do this because the two are connected. We can, however, recognise a difference between the classic graffiti and the new urban art or Street Art, as people call it. But Street Art and Urban Art cannot exist without graffiti; graffiti is the basis of contemporary Urban Art.

MUSTAR: When we say graffiti, we mean classical typographies, and this new movement can be considered the evolution of graffiti.

ISRAEL:  How new is it though? Would you put a date on it?

ALANIZ: It is impossible to say when it started. Stencil started in the 80s. We can see an explosion of Urban Art in the last ten years. That is easy to recognise but it is hard to find a definite time when it actually started.

ISRAEL: Would you call it a global phenomenon?

ALANIZ: Yes, actually that was the idea of the exhibition. To show that there is a movement that is just starting, and it is international and involves a lot of people without any defining organisation. We found that really interesting and we are anxious to see how this movement grows.

ISRAEL: When I went through the exhibition with some of the pieces I was not sure whether or not they work without their context. Street Art is very distinct in the way of placement. And it is a little bit like a treasure hunt if you go to a city and you find a piece in a special place. Was that difficult for the exhibition?

MUSTAR: I think this is a good question for Street Art exhibitions in general. Can you have a Street Art exhibition in a gallery or in closed place? A lot of people asked us this very question and were sceptical. So I think this question is hard to answer. In general a lot of artists are going to carefully consider where they are going to place their work. They will take into consideration if it is a special place because of the architecture, or because of the context or the people crossing by. However I do think it could be seen as a link. Taking things off the streets where people might not pay as much attention and give them time to explore.

I think in some ways it works, in some it doesn’t.

ISRAEL: Keeping what you said in mind, was that difficult as a curator? You said you expected about 30-40 entries and ended up with 130. How did you choose?

ALANIZ: Basically we had two ideas on how to choose between the people. One was about the quality of the artwork and the other one was about how they tried to represent their idea. We tried to determine how they perceived the main idea of the festival “Silence is a lie” and how they transferred this concept into a painting.

MUSTAR: We wanted to have critique involved. There is a lot of nice and decorative Street Art but for this exhibition we wanted something more. For example: We have a lot of things from Iran and it is interesting to see what they criticise compared to a Greek artist commenting on the political system, or the German entries. The artists are from all over the world and it was interesting to see what their point of critique is.

ISRAEL: Would you explain the title of the exhibition?

MUSTAR: “When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie,” is a quote from the Russian writer Yevgeny Yevtushenko and it just suited us. We did not want to make a special point in social criticism or political art.

ISRAEL: So is it about involvement in general, wherever you are?

ALANIZ: Yes, but not necessarily. Many artists live in a bubble and do not notice what happens around them. So we wanted to see what the term “critique” means to them and to understand that everybody has something different to say. It shows that they have things in common but are also very different. It was an experiment to see what they have to say, where they are coming from and where they are living.

Little wire Man

ISRAEL: Who put the little wire men into the exhibition? In the end I was running around trying to find them everywhere.

Foto:4 Crime Scene

MUSTAR: There were two guys actually, and two different types of figures. They went through the exhibition together on the day of the opening. They looked at the art works and created little scenes complimenting them. We have a piece called “Shoot the bank” and you see the little figures holding a machine gun.

ISRAEL: As a visitor you have the opportunity to engage as well. There are little pipe cleaners available and everybody is asked to create a little something. Not only did they communicate with the paintings, they opened the door for everybody. I thought that was brilliant because in a way that captures the idea of Street Art again, namely the idea that everybody is part of the game. I was beyond all hope though, but still my little snail is somewhere in that exhibition now.

What do you think, how important is the digital world for Street Art?

MUSTAR: Really important.

ALANIZ: Yes. You can’t escape from that – it is the future. It is part of the game. I like to think that art is always new and therefore has to take in all the possibilities that come with the new media.

MUSTAR: I am new to the Street Art scene and for me it was interesting to hear that same sentence all the time: It is just a photo! You can be sure if you make a piece, two weeks later that artwork will have been covered by other artwork.

ALANIZ: Two days.

MUSTAR: Yes, two days. Anyway, it is a very temporary thing, so what you hear from the artists is: I need a photo. Whatever happens in the street happens but you will have your photo as proof. Then you can go on Flickr or Facebook and all the other social network things and Boom…! You put down the street and everything else. So at the moment the digital part in this is crucial.

ISRAEL: You’ve mentioned temporariness, which is another important question. What do you think time is to Street Art? Do you think it is different from classical art?


ALANIZ: It is an interesting point. I like to think a lot about time. It is temporary, but everything is temporary, and we learn that in our society. Relationships, political systems, governments… I think it is something natural that is transferring into a form of art. That is why we as (street) artists are playing with the definition of survival in a new way. Because in the past, artists painted in a way that their work could survive for hundreds of years. You don’t have time to paint, you are in the streets all the time and it is a very intense scene. Sometimes you only have one hour.

ISRAEL: Is that criticising the system in that we don’t have time for anything anymore, or is it blending in with our lifestyle?

ALANIZ: I think that it could be both.

MUSTAR: I think this temporariness started out of fear of the police or some angry neighbours. It started as something functional and now it is developing into something like the 15 minutes of fame by Andy Warhol.

ALANIZ: It all comes down to how you analyse something and Street Art as a movement without any structure is really interesting to analyse. It is fluent, much like human behaviour. There are only basic rules and it hard to tell if it is a result of how we are living or if it is a critique.


ISRAEL: There is one name that kind of bombed Street Art into the main stream, and that is Banksy. We have this wonderful quote of him: “I guess my ambition was to make a film that would do for graffiti art what Karate Kid did for martial arts, a film that would get every school kid in the world picking up a spray can and having a go. As it turns out, I think we may have made a film that does for Street Art what Jaws did for water skiing.”

Of course Banksy has this great sense of humour, but what do you think about him and his impact?

ALANIZ: I think he is something like a necessary evil. You can’t escape from these kinds of figures, the movement needs them. I think it is kind of a result and you need someone to represent what Street Art is for the public. But he is not the only example of a Street Artist, he is just one part of the movement. A mainstream part at that, and I like to think there are more representations of Street Artists that are more interesting to analyse than Banksy.

ISRAEL: That leads to my next question, the selling-out of Street Art. It has become fashionable and is a lifestyle that people want to buy into. Let’s say somebody comes up and offers you 20.000 Euro to do a wall: would you do it?

ALANIZ: That is an interesting point. I think as an artist everybody has the right to do whatever they want with their painting. Most of the time you are painting for free in the streets but painting there means many people will see your art. You are giving it away for free, but not just for one person, you are giving it to the world. If there is someone who wants to have this painting just for themselves, they have to pay. In a way it is an egotistical act to want a painting just for yourself or your home. Unfortunately we are living in a society where you have to pay for everything – health insurance, taxes, rent, water. You are paying for water. Nobody can live without water and you are paying for that. So putting a price on your artwork means your artwork counts. So it can also be something positive.

You can’t keep all your paintings, and if someone is paying for it you know they will take care of your painting. That is a way of respect for artwork.

MUSTAR: But it is a good question because the basic idea behind the Street Art culture is not commercial.

ALANIZ: Yes, the base might be, but the problem is not selling a painting, the problem is if you start painting to sell, when you start to produce paintings just for selling. That is the crucial point of breaking with the basic rules of Street Art.

Nadja Israel


Emanuel Alaniz
– geboren 1984 in Mendoza, Argentinien
– aktiver Street Art – Künstler seit 2007
– 2011 Umzug nach Berlin
– Teilnahme an mehreren Festivals, Shows usw. in Deutschland als Streetart – Künstler
– arbeitet nebenher als selbstständiger Illustrator
– 2012 Kurator und Organisator der Urbanart – Ausstellung SILENCE IS A LIE

Alesa Mustar
– geboren 1980 in Postojna, Slowenien
– Architekturstudium an der Universität Stuttgart mit Schwerpunkt Kunst im öffentlichen Raum
– von 2009 bis 2011 Aufenthalt in Buenos Aires, Argentinien
– 2011 Umzug nach Berlin
– arbeitet als selbstständige Szenografin und Designerin
– 2012 Kurator und Organisator der Urbanart – Ausstellung SILENCE IS A LIE

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