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A home for street art…in museums and shopping malls

6 June 2016

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

More news from the confusing world of institutionally sanctioned street art. Berlin, capital of the International Brotherhood of Hipsterdom, is soon to be the proud host of something called the Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art. According to The Art Newspaperthis new institution will be one of the world’s first major museums dedicated exclusively to street art when it opens next year.

The project, it seems, is a timely one. Why, even venerable Sunday Times art critic Waldemar Januszczak seems to be getting on board the graffiti gravy train: ‘At its best [street art] is the most energetically responsible art of our times,’ he wrote in a piece describing the garish wall decor he saw on a recent visit (£) to a shopping mall in Dubai.

But back to Berlin. Apparently, the UNMUCA, as we might tentatively dub it, will be ‘more of a hub’ than a museum. What this actually means is that much of the space inside this former residential block in the city’s Schöneberg district will be dedicated to living and studio space for creative taggers. So far, so laudable. The most intriguing statement yet as to the nature of Berlin’s newest cultural hotspot comes from the mouth of culture minister Tim Renner, who described the project as ‘insane […] that’s why it fits Berlin so well’. To which the Rake can only respond: You don’t have to be mad to work here, but…

À chacun son truc. But one question remains: as Waldemar explained in his aforementioned article, ‘While most contemporary art is reluctant to lift its eyes from its own navel […] street art looks about itself and complains about what it sees.’ With officially sanctioned graffiti popping up everywhere everywhere across the globe, can it be long before the only thing that street art sees when it ‘looks about itself’ is, erm, more street art?

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.