This text was originally published in the Capital Daily.
“Art is asking questions without judging” – these words are part of the Urban Nation’s manifesto, the world's first museum entirely devoted to urban contemporary art and also a space that ''will never ask for your passport but always for your message." It is located in a city whose cultural identity is inextricably linked to street art - Berlin.
Urban Nation opened its doors earlier this fall and aims to put the most prominent street artists in a different context. The project extends beyond the museum and on the way you can see several walls of residential buildings painted on its initiative. You'll be better prepared for the spirit of the place if on your way to the Urban Nation you go through the 2013 Gleisdreieck, one of the city's newest parks and a landmark for skaters and graffiti artists.
More than one hundred artists are included in the collection of the museum. You can see the works of artists such as Banksy, Shepherd Feary (the creator of Hope Poster poster of Barack Obama's presidential campaign) and Blek Le Rat (one of the founders of graffiti culture in Paris in the 1980s) as well as artists in bloom of his forces like Andreas Englund and the conceptual artist Mia Florentine Weiss with his sculpture NOW, originally placed before the Reichstag - a feminist appeal to address the issue of women's rights no later than now. Among the participants is the co-founder and frontman of Massive Attack – dealing mainly with graffiti art prior to his breakthrough in the music of Robert del Naya - 3D, who earlier this year was associated with guessworg that he is actually the person behind the pseudonym Banksy.
The visit may also provoke some doubts: how can the aesthetics of street art be placed between the walls of a museum without criticism that it becomes a part of the status quo and that it spoils its original design? The creative director and master curator of the Yasha Young Museum avoids this danger by exposing in the museum itself almost entirely works that have not yet been on the street, turning the surrounding spaces around it into fields of expression.
Under the name Urban Nation, she has organized a number of graffiti actions in the city over the past few years. ''There was a need for such space and I knew Berlin was the right place for it. "The idea of the museum is to focus on this part of the artistic society in the first place but also to be able to combine with open-air activities", says Yasha Young, until recently owner of her own gallery in New York and author of the book Art That Creeps: A Macabre Menagerie of Art - a collection of works by artists in the field of horror and surrealism.
''Everything in the museum was created specifically for his space. The artists involved have experience working indoors or on canvas, so the exhibition is a continuation of their multifunctionality. And also a chance for noticing what they do as a style and a message. For me, it is always a great joy to hear a visitor recognizing someone's style and saying, "Oh, this artist is probably the same one who draws on that wall in Kreuzberg."
She thinks street art is changing without rest and with great flexibility. "Every city has different influences on the context of what's happening in it," says Yasha, quoting Fruit of the Lump and Alien Attack as the artists who have impressed her recently. Every new building, every new social theme, every new challenge to the people brings new ideas. "
The Urban Nation is located on Bülowstraße 7 and runs from Tuesday to Sunday between 10 am and 6 pm. More information on urban-nation.com