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Outsides was a street art project in Wuppertal , North Rhine-Westphalia , which was completed after a long preparation in August 2006 in a corporate street art attack . Around twenty urban art artists and photographers from all over the world took part in the project sponsored by Red Bull , including the Italian Blu , the Brazilian brothers Os Gêmeos with Nina , the Frenchman JR and Martha Cooper , an American photojournalist.

The aim of the non-registered action, which was partly carried out at night and in fog , was to place works of art in the urban area and present them to a surprised population of Wuppertal. The graffiti , murals and installations were distributed over the entire city area and included the listed suspension railway . Some of the artists' works have been characterized as macabre and morbid and led to heated discussions in Wuppertal about what art is and how far it can penetrate public space .

The Army of Lost Souls , which Os Gêmeos & Nina painted in the abandoned Rott railway tunnel and which was separately documented and presented in the photo exhibition Art that falls by the wayside in 2010, became particularly well known from the Outsides project . In the same year the work of art was destroyed on the initiative of the non-profit association Wuppertal Movement for urban planning reasons ( conversion of the 22 km long route of the disused Wuppertal Northern Railway to a pedestrian and cycle path).

Preparation, goals and actors

Project goal and choice of Wuppertal

Suspension railway and mural by the artist Blu an der Wupper ( see below )

Against the background that street art is usually not perceived as art , the initiators asked the question: How could street art in its - also illegal - originality and in its special scope of action be organized so that it can be perceived as art by a broader public becomes acceptable in public spaces? A team of art experts and graffiti artists dealt with the discussion and implementation of the initial question for over a year and agreed on a large-scale "exhibition" in public space. According to street artist Blu, the Berlin festival Backjumps - The Live Issue # 2 from 2005 served as a model. The artists Akim, Brom, JR, Os Gêmeos & Nina, Zasd and ZEVS were already represented by the Wuppertal participants at the second Backjumps Festival, which was carried out in collaboration with the Kunstraum Bethanien . After clarifying the goal, those involved looked for a suitable city to carry out the action. The city you are looking for should meet four criteria:

The project participants agreed on Wuppertal, as the city, located on the edge of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region , with around 350,000 inhabitants, with its industrial history, suspension railway and its cultural facilities and monuments met the requirements.

Action quarter Villa Herberts and preparatory workshops

Villa Herberts , artists' quarter and action center

In January 2006, the project management rented the villa Villa Herberts (also: Villa Waldfrieden ), which had been vacant for a long time, as a quarter and later action center and had it overhauled and furnished according to the project requirements. The listed building appeared to the initiators as ideal accommodation, since the builder Kurt Herberts was already an art collector and sponsor. Significantly involved in the development of two Waldorf schools in Wuppertal, Herberts had his villa built in the style of organic architecture in accordance with his anthroposophical ideas. In addition, located in a large park, today's Sculpture Park Waldfrieden , the organizers considered the atmosphere of the house and the surrounding area to be conducive to creative exchange between the artists.

A central part of the further preparations were two workshops in March and April 2006, to which the initiators invited 22 artists covering a wide range of urban art to the Herberts Villa. It is unclear to what extent the artists already knew at this point that Red Bull was sponsoring the entire project. It should be certain that the beverage company did not intervene in the preparations or in the later actions. The “exhibition” in public space, ie the execution of the project goal in the form of the street art attack, took place between August 11th and 17th, 2006. During this period, the entire team moved back into Herberts Villa.

Artists, guerrilla marketing and Red Bull

In addition to the project managers and some photographers, the artists Akim, Brom, Mare 139, Blu, JR, Kami & Sasu, Mr. Horse, Nixfitti (collective), Os Gêmeos & Nina, Dr. Innocent, Zasd and ZEVS involved. The Red Bulls sponsorship aimed to strengthen the brand loyalty of its young urban target group through positive experiences with the surprise effect of guerrilla marketing . However, Red Bull did not appear directly and, in contrast to the usual guerrilla marketing campaigns, for example, did not integrate the company logo into the art campaign. The name only appeared in the later marketing as OUTSIDES. A Red Bull street art procect more clearly in appearance. The marketing was done subversively, and according to Leibl, the advertising message ultimately consisted of the portrayal as a non-conformist company, the identification of the company with the non-conformist art campaign. The predominantly consumer and socially critical self-image of the street art actors was instrumentalized as a delimiting good to create identification.

According to the documentation of the overall project, also funded by Red Bull ( see below ), the artists did not hide the fact that they were working on behalf of a large commercial enterprise and financed for their fun. In contrast, the Westdeutsche Zeitung (WZ) stated in an article on May 6, 2008: As it turned out only weeks after the action, the Wuppertal guerrilla art had been sponsored by Redbull. The curators contacted the WZ and self-critically complained about the commercialization of the project.

Works and actions (examples)

In the final week of action between August 11th and 17th, 2006, the artists worked almost day and night in the city and in Herberts' villa. All rooms in the villa were occupied for planning and preparing the works. A fleet of cars and vans were available to the artists for trips to the center of the city and for carrying out their work. The official web project page summed up enthusiastically: As Wuppertal rose back to life on the morning of August 18, works of art were to be found all over the city. The city had turned into an exhibition space. ( When Wuppertal awoke on the morning of August 18, there were works of art to be found all over the city. The city had turned into an art space. ) Dr. Innocent had, for example, whitewashed sidewalks, stairs, park benches, park walls, lanterns and garbage cans in innocent white. Behind this was the provocative question to the Wuppertal, whether white is clean or dirty. The sculptures, installations, graffiti, murals and actions also included:

Os Gêmeos & Nina: Army of Lost Souls

Army of Lost Souls
(Figure Photo Gallery)
Os Gêmeos & Nina
Photos: Cornelia and Ralf Wagner

linked image
(please note copyrights )

One of the most impressive works of the Outsides project is the army of the lost souls of the three Brazilian street artists, the three of whom appear as "Os Gêmeos & Nina". Nina Pandolfo is married to Otavio Pandolfo, one of the two Os Gêmeos twins. They created their main work in Wuppertal in the darkness of the disused Rotter Tunnel . Murals with thirty human-sized figures showed women, men and children as sad creatures, whose desolation and forlornness impressively staged the gloomy atmosphere of the old tunnel. The figures with the yellow-tinged faces and skinny limbs typical of Os Gêmeos, as well as the wide-eyed, brightly colored girls typical of Nina, were intended to reflect the horror of the Second World War .

Under the headline Art simply milled away , the Rheinische Post reported that the work of art was destroyed in 2010 on the initiative of the non-profit association Wuppertal Movement for urban planning reasons ( conversion of the 22-kilometer route of the disused Wuppertal Northern Railway to a pedestrian and cycle path). The newspaper stated that those responsible for the city could not identify with this impressive work and commented: What is certain is that the designers of the northern railway line have deprived themselves of a tourist attraction by removing the pictures. In 2007 two photographers from Wuppertal took pictures of each figure. The pictures were presented in the spring of 2010 at the University of Wuppertal as a documentary photo exhibition Art that falls by the wayside. An exhibition in the Haus der Jugend on Geschwister-Scholl-Platz showed an installation by Os Gêmeos ( The Guitar, Mixed media ) and a work by JR ( Actor, Project Face 2 Face ).

Blu: Gollum and brochures

The Goethe-Institut Madrid counts the Italian Blu as one of the internationally most important and critical street artists of muralism . During the week of action, Blu created five murals with his characteristic, bizarre human figures on Wuppertal house facades and walls. He applied four pictures in the achromatic color he preferred, white ; one work was in a pink base tone. Two works are still preserved as of March 2015. One of the still existing works is in Unterbarmen on a side of the wall facing the Wupper with the company inscription Peter Holzrichter & Co. The picture shows a creature lying on its back with an undershirt and underpants, whose arm is tangled in an over-long neck. The head is designed with two faces. Behind a depressed human face appears a flattened, fish-like face with a wide mouth with beards through which the creature filters a stream of small animals. In the project documentation, Jörg Rohleder interprets the pitiful figure as Gollum / Sméagol . The split personality Gollum / Sméagol is one of the main characters in Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings .

One of the two last remaining works of the Outsides project in public space as of March 2015: the Gollum figure by the Italian street artist Blu an der Wupper.

In the three other white-colored murals, Blu also thematized the person who was consumed and torn by the longing for “her treasure” ( the one ring ). On a house facade in Ritterstrasse in Unterbarmen, he depicted the figure with an enlarged, snail-shell-like back in which there was a barred cavity in which one of the two personalities of Gollum / Sméagol was imprisoned. The creature , who had been expelled from the Shire, had desperately torn its eyes out, but could not get rid of them because they were still tied to the empty eye sockets with ribbons. A small figure, the hobbit Frodo Baggins , pulled Gollum by the back and tried to save the creature from self-destruction. Behind Frodo stood Sam Gamgee , who had put his hands around Frodo's neck to strangle him - an allusion to the temporary discord that Gollum had sown between the two companions. The facade has now been completely repainted so that the mural has disappeared.

Blu also produced six thousand textless brochures with his drawings for the campaign, which he placed in cardboard boxes at bus stops and street corners to take away. Blu described the distribution as a kind of “street art take-away” exhibition and stated in an interview: The magazines were completely anonymous and I think most of people will never know that I did it. ( The magazines were totally anonymous and I think most people will never know they came from me. )

JR: Every Wuppertal is a star

JR , here 2011

Frenchman JR , winner of the US $ 100,000 TED Prize 2011, took part in the project both as a street artist and as a documentary photographer. He secretly photographed the Wuppertal people in the suspension railway. He processed the portraits into huge posters, stickers and banners, which he hung and stuck on the suspension railway in one night. It should be made clear to private individuals, who have become stars, so to speak, with the help of the advertising industry that everyone is under observation. The action wanted to provoke reactions, especially since those portrayed could not know whether the whole thing was legal or illegal. As intended, this action caused considerable irritation and polarization and called the police on the scene. An eyewitness reported to the Westdeutsche Zeitung: It is two o'clock in the night when the cops arrive. Why did it take so long, I wonder on this rainy night. There is already a 24 square meter sign hanging from the suspension railway. And the photographer JR is not exactly discreet with his light yellow raincoat and sunglasses. After some inconclusive deliberations, the police finally decided, at the instigation of the managing director of the public utility company, to end the operation for security reasons and to remove the portraits. The managing director is said to have given 10,000 volts are running up there as the reason and repeated like a mantra .

In October 2014, JR attacked the people of Wuppertal again with his portrait art. As part of the Inside Out Project , 674 Wuppertal residents were photographed under the title different faces - different views within four days by the team who had traveled from Paris with the help of the so-called “Photo Booth”. The pictures were immediately printed out as posters and attached to the outside facade of the old Weinkontor on Friedrich-Ebert-Straße . The project turned against racism and promoted tolerance .

ZEVS: I am not allowed to dirty the walls of my city (reverse graffiti)

Reverse graffiti " I mustn't dirty the walls of my city " on the Küpper brewery
The ZEVS logo

The French artist ZEVS (spoken: Zeus ; Christophe Aghirre Schwarz, * 1977), who is known for his "visual attacks" in the form of adbusting against Benetton posters or the McDonald’s logo, alienated them in Wuppertal by spraying a few additives Message from advertising posters. In addition, he created a reverse graffiti that was controversially discussed among townspeople and authorities by writing the sentence I must not soil the walls of my city five times in capital letters in the dirt of a wall facing the street . He “cleaned” the wall in the sense of reverse graffiti with a high-pressure cleaner . The linguist Philipp Dreesen stated about the work that the sentences are based on the pattern of school detention (repeated repetition of a norm until the end of the surface / board), which emphasizes the authoritarian and at the same time outdated character of the norm. In order for the criticism to work, the semantics of the five sentences should not change with regard to their pronounced prohibition; they must coincide with the execution of the removal of dirt.

The visual similarity between graffiti and the reverse graffiti used here, continues Dreesen, has a threefold critical potential: firstly, environmental pollution is criticized in a performative manner by writing in dirt . Second, a comparison is made between the ignored or accepted pollution of surfaces by exhaust fumes etc. and the pollution of the city by graffiti. Thirdly, the norm itself is repealed, since it is shown that means can always be found to provide publicly visible areas with undesired characters. According to the relevant webzine Urbanshit, the work presented the city with a problem: Can and should it take action against this voluntary selective cleaning work? The graffito is no longer there. The wall on Bendahler Strasse in the Barmen district was torn down in 2015 at the latest.

Further reactions and consequences

Media, population, city administration

Some of the artists' works were characterized as provocative, macabre, morbid and bloodthirsty and led to heated discussions in Wuppertal about what art is and how far it can penetrate public space . What happened here? […] And why? Is that vandalism? An act to reclaim the streets ? Or art? The people of Wuppertal began to ask. The regional media reported and speculated about the action for two months with headlines such as (the headlines are taken from newspaper clippings that are shown in the film They come at night ( see below ); the sources can only be seen sporadically in the film):

  • The provocation came overnight.
  • I must not defile the walls of my city. (Adoption of reverse graffiti from ZEVS marked as a quote.) Sub-headline: Art or graffiti ? “Guerrilla art” surprises Wuppertal people.
  • Too hot for Wuppertal.
  • Dispute over guerrilla art: closeness to the citizen or breach of style? Sub-headline: 22 artists split the opinions of the Wuppertal people. Differentiated view of mysterious graffiti. (Source: Westdeutsche Zeitung (WZ).)
  • It's about conquering the road. Introductory sub-lines: The art expert Antje Birthälmer sees in the works of JR and Co. references to the breaks and contradictions that characterize the city. (Source: WZ.)
  • The secret of the guerrilla gallery. Sub-headline: "JR" wants to confront Wuppertal with art.

The journalist Sabina Bartholomäa spoke of art that fell from heaven. In its Internet forum, the Westdeutsche Zeitung (WZ) asked readers for their opinion on “guerrilla art”. Of 410 WZ readers , 80.2 percent said the unusual art beautified the cityscape , only 19.8 percent were in favor of removing the "ugly works" quickly. The unrepresentative finding coincides with the statement made by the artist ZEVS about the reactions of the people of Wuppertal during his actions: They were surprised, amused, enthusiastic, but never angry. ( They were surprised, amused, enthusiastic, but never upset. ) The city council finally decided, after equally controversial discussions, to keep some of the works of art.

Exhibitions in the Von der Heydt Museum

The Outsides project had a clear impact on institutional art in Wuppertal. A few months after the action, in February 2007, the Von der Heydt Museum in the Kunsthalle Barmen launched the first Wuppertal  street art and graffiti exhibition curated by Rik Reinking under the title Still on and non the wiser . Among other things, an Outsides sculpture with a yellow face, created by Os Gêmeos, was exhibited. The museum director Gerhard Finckh admitted that until recently he hadn't had the faintest glimmer of street art and graffiti [...] , but has now been impressed by the charm of the temporary . In 2011, the exhibition Street Art 2 in Wuppertal , also curated by Reinking, followed , at which Os Gêmeos were represented again.

Documentation: book and film

The project was featured in the 2008 book We come at night. A corporate street art attack documented. The volume edited by Frank Lämmer and published by Gestalten-Verlag in Berlin is only available in English. The title page (page 3) bears the title This book is a documentation of under the heading : OUTSIDES. A Red Bull street art procect . In addition to an introduction by Martha Cooper and the reviews Carpe noctem by Jörg Rohleder, Moments of suspicion by the art historian Wolfgang Ullrich and A can is a can is can ... by Franz Liebl, the documentation devotes separate chapters to the participating artists, in which the artists themselves have their say and their intentions, actions and works are described in text and images. The image documentation of the works and actions takes up a lot of space. Like the entire project, the documentation was funded by Red Bull ( enabled by Red Bull ).

The book also contains the film documentation They come at night as a DVD supplement . The 28-minute film captures the atmosphere of the city in the style of film noir and shows the artists at work with a few making-of sequences, including JR's nocturnal encounter with the police under the suspension railway. In the comment-free film, the artists have their say, apart from the very subtle background music, there is only the sounds of the city. A few baffled expressions and reactions from the people of Wuppertal are briefly faded in . The German and French parts are underlaid with English subtitles . In the opening sequence, the camera moves in the train tunnel along the torch-lit army of lost souls . (Script and direction: Mario Mentrup , Volker Sattel; original sound , sound design , music: Nikolaus Woernle; camera: Volker Sattel.)


  • Heike Derwanz: Street Art Careers. New ways in the art and design market. In the book series: Studies on Visual Culture. transcript Verlag , Bielefeld 2013 ISBN 978-3-8376-2423-6 .
  • Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night: A Corporate Street Art Attack. Die Gestalten Verlag , Berlin / London 2008. Contains the film documentation They come at night (see previous section) ISBN 978-3-89955-216-4 (English) as a DVD supplement .

Web links

Commons : Outsides  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e Chronics History of Outsides ( Memento from July 13, 2012 in the web archive archive.today ) In: outsides.de
  2. ^ Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... P. 117.
  3. Backjumps - The Live Issue # 2. In: Reclaim Your City, August 20 to October 16, 2005.
  4. ^ Martha Cooper : From New York to Wuppertal. In: Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... P. 4.
  5. ^ A b Franz Liebl: A can is a can is a can ... (Review). In: Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... P. 134 ff.
  6. a b Jörg Rohleder: Carpe Noctem (Review). In: Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... P. 9.
  7. Heike Derwanz: Street Art Careers. P. 173 f.
  8. Jens Thomas: Subversive and self-adhesive, in: Katrin Klitzke / Christian Schmidt (ed.): Street Art. Legenden zur Straße, Verlag Archiv der Jugendkulturen eV 2009, ISBN 978-3-940213-44-0
  9. ^ Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... P. 142.
  10. a b c Nina May: How guerrilla art came about. In: Westdeutsche Zeitung (WZ-Newsline), May 6, 2008
  11. ^ Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... P. 98.
  12. ^ Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... P. 33.
  13. ^ A b Lars Mader: Art simply milled away. In: Rheinische Post (RP online), August 25, 2012.
  14. Art that falls by the wayside . ( Memento of the original from April 5, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: Homepage of the Wuppertal University Social Welfare Service , March 22, 2010. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / hochschul-sozialwerk-wuppertal.de
  15. Haus der Jugend, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz, image 19. ( Memento of the original from April 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: Website of the city of Wuppertal. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.wuppertal.de
  16. ^ Goethe-Institut Madrid: Street Art to go. Madrid Río Blu. Status: 2015.
  17. ^ Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... Pp. 9, 140 to 143.
  18. ^ Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... Pp. 92 to 97.
  19. a b Jörg Rohleder: Carpe Noctem (Review). In: Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... P. 7.
  20. Inside Out Project Wuppertal: 674 portraits. 4th / 5th October 2014.
  21. ^ Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... Pp. 16 to 27.
  22. Philipp Dreesen: Criticism as a mode of knowledge, practice and object of investigation in discourse linguistics. In: Discourse linguistics in the area of ​​tension between description and criticism. Ed .: Ulrike Hanna Meinhof, Martin Reisigl, Ingo H. Warnke. Verlag Walter de Gruyter ( Akademie Verlag ), Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-05-006104-7 , p. 188.
  23. We'll clean up the city! In: Urbanshit, July 24, 2007.
  24. ^ Jens Christian Mahnke: Street Art. New mural from Blu in Cologne via Cityleaks Festival. In: Atomlabor, June 16, 2011.
  25. a b Jörg Rohleder: Carpe Noctem (Review). In: Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... Pp. 10 to 13.
  26. a b c Taken from the film: They come at night . DVD supplement to: Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... The film shows the articles in the form of newspaper clippings . The sources are only isolated and the dates of publication cannot be recognized in any case.
  27. ^ Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... P. 16.
  28. ^ Wolfgang Ullrich : Moments of suspicion (Review). In: Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... P. 133.
  29. Frank Becker: The charm of the temporary. The Wuppertaler Von der Heydt Museum is showing street art and graffiti in the Kunsthalle Barmen under the heading “Still on and non the wiser…”. In: Museumsblätter - The independent culture magazine , Wuppertal February 9, 2007.
  30. ^ Gerhard Finckh , Toke Lykeberg: still on and non the wiser: an exhibition with selected urban artists. Exhibition catalog. 1st edition. Publikat Verlag, Mainaschaff 2008, ISBN 978-3-939566-20-5 .
  31. Frank Becker: The frescoes of the profane cathedrals of our time. Street Art 2 in Wuppertal. In: Museumsblätter - The independent culture magazine , Wuppertal May 7, 2011.
  32. ^ Frank Lämmer (ed.): We come at Night. .... Pp. 140 to 143.