Above/featured: “At times the only thing alive about me were those demons.” MUCA Munich – 31 May 2018 (X70).
One of my favourite artists is Herakut, a German duo whose street murals have appeared in Europe and around the world since 2004. Hera (Jasmin Siddiqui) and Akut (Falk Lehmann) use walls and big spaces for their big art with a signature look that includes expressive faces and big eyes, lots of photo-like details, and sharp typography. Their work explores issues such as physical and emotional isolation, maternal relationships, gender and racial equality, and all the things we think and feel lurking inside. But I think their compositions also include long notes and pauses which allow and incorporate vivid fantasy and playful whimsy.
I present below four examples: Wittenberg 2016, Heidelberg 2017, Berlin 2017, Munich 2018, and Berlin 2021.
Created for the Kura 2016 street arts festival, a mural in Wittenberg shows a young girl with big brown eyes and who is surrounded by stars. Her hands are partly open as if she’s just let go of the two small dragons flying in her vicinity. At right is the accompanying caption:
“Sie heissen Geduld und Zuversicht und ihr Schicksal liegt in meinen Händen. (They’re called patience and hope, and their fate lies in my hands.).”
Herakut was invited to create a mural in Heidelberg as part of the Metropolink urban art festival in summer 2016. As this beautiful work also highlights, their message has consistently been about challenging our preconceptions and assumptions, particularly about immigrants. Montana Cans writes about the making of this mural (in English).
“Wenn wir uns von Äusserlichkeiten abschrecken lassen, verpassen wir womöglich das Wertvolle darunter. If we let outer appearances scare us, we might miss out on great beauty inside.”
The Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art opened in Berlin Schöneberg with both fanfare and skepticism. Questions arose about whether street art housed indoors can be viewed and critiqued in the same way as displayed outside. Soon after its grand opening, herakut’s “Queens of the Sea” appeared as part of the museum’s exhibition.
“… and forever they would walk from the shores to the parliaments, to forever haunt those who had let them drown …”
On display at Munich’s Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art (MUCA), Herakut’s exhibition “Wahn|Sinn” was a reinterpretation of Goethe’s tragic play “Faust.” Hopes and dreams, desires and decisions, and the consequences are a part of the visual play. But there are some differences that I think turn the tragedy into a more hopeful result.
I discovered the following Herakut piece on a quick hop back home to Berlin in late-2021. Since mid-2015, a Herakut mural graces the 30-metre tall south-facing wall of the Heinrich-Böll-Bibliothek in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg. There’s a quote from Martin Luther which appears in multiple languages.
Wenn ich wüsste, dass die Welt morgen untergeht, würde ich heute einen Apfelbaum pflanzen.
(If I knew the world ended tomorrow, I’d plant an apple tree today.)
I made all photos above between 2016 and 2021 with a Canon EOS6D mark1 (6D1) and a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime (X70). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-dX5.