Half-a-century after Conrad Schumann's famous jump across the Berlin Wall from East to West Germany and almost 25 years after the fall of that barrier, the image of that iconic Cold War- era leap found its place on wall graffiti at the German consulate in Kolkata.
This Indo-German initiative that aims at international networking and popularising graffiti art, had roped in renowned German graffiti artist Zebster to teach young learners the basics of graffiti art.
German graffiti writer Akim Walta aka Zebster, Delhi- based Kajal Singh aka Dizy and a group of around 10 youngsters from Kolkata put in great efforts with spray cans to create the showpiece on the wall of the German Consulate, which is also part of the 2nd International Graphiti and Hip Hop Project, jointly organised by the German Consulate and Hip- Hop Stützpunkt of Berlin.
Hip Hop Stützpunkt, founded in 2007 by Akim Walta, one of the best graffiti artists in Europe who plays the role of a music producer, a historian and an organiser of international hip hop projects, is a privately financed art, culture and youth programme in Berlin. Akim set up this programme with the help of fifty other artists in an old electricity factory named Stützpunkt (and hence the name of the project). The four-storied building houses two music labels, one book publisher, a gallery, the organisers’ offices, artists and two youth associations.
The Kolkata crew of the Indo-German initiative comprised students from the Government College of Art and Craft and members of Big Bong Theory Forum, a group of hip hop and graffiti artists from West Bengal.
The German Consulate saw this as a fitting project for the commemoration the 25th year of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Berlin is just a symbol though; this is mainly to create a base of collaboration between German and Indian youth. The graffiti that was painted outside the consulate walls last time is like a landmark for the city dwellers now. The collaborating artists from Kolkata claimed to have a wonderful time painting the walls..
The 2nd International Graffiti and Hip Hop Project, jointly presented by the German Consulate and Hip Hop Stützpunkt, Berlin, dedicated a day to hip hop artistes from Kolkata. The young artistes invited by Big Bong Theory Forum danced their heart out. They also got to show off some moves to Jie Wu, a dancer from the US and now a student of Chinese at Visva-Bharati University, who came with a bunch of street children from Old China Town, whom he trains on behalf of the NGO, Kids of Blue Turtle.
According to Akim Walta, the brain behind the project, “This is a cool space and great for young people. When I was young no one helped me, I am glad these kids have some guidance." Neha Chaudhuri, a student of Scottish Church College, was happy to show off her whacking skills. Some of the participants also performed stunts with cycles and did wheelies.
The focus of the graffiti and hip hop project is to support local artists and to reach out to the younger generation. Dizy, who claims to be India's first female graffiti artist, has been collaborating with Akim since 2011 and has worked with him in Mumbai and Delhi.
A workshop was also held at the CSTC bus depot in Lake Gardens, which saw some colourful graffiti and some cool dance moves, breathing life into the otherwise dark and dingy warehouse inside the depot. “Youngsters need a space like this to engage them. It is a wonderful initiative for both the nations,” said Akim.