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Arts and Identity, Berlin Collective, Interview

Berliner Mauer Kunst: Mit East Side Gallery

Heinz J. Kuzdas was born in Kuenzelsau, in South-West Germany. He has been residing in Berlin since 1972 and has lived in France, the USA, Canada and South America. Kuzdas studied Philosophy and Medicine at the Free University of Berlin, has worked as a medical coordinator, as a journalist and photo journalist and has organized and curated several exhibitions abroad and within Germany.

During the “A World Without Walls” Conference held at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin on November 9th of 2010, Heinz J.Kuzdas held a lecture called “1989: The Year that Changed the World” describing the evolution and the fonction of the Berlin Wall.
For J. Kuzdas, “The Berlin Wall was also a unique collective artwork, which changed daily and often overnight – paint actions disappeared the next day by somebody’s new work of art or was modified in new surprising ways. There was of course controversy – some people saw in painting the Wall only disgusting cosmetics, others similar to the historical wall-newspapers in China, a somehow index of “Zeitgeist” – mood index continuum – as one wrote on the Wall. But here we observed colorful, new irony art, misusing and transforming a depressing horrible perfected inhuman and dangerous borderline and turning it into the longest canvas of art. Something came into existence for what we owe recognition and gratefulness to the many known and unknown who participated. So far there was no such intention from the official public. There are so many who only desire to keep alive the memory of the Wall of death and barbed wire.
His lecture and a short interview (conducted by Mark Warman on 08.11.2010) can be viewed in the following.

An artist recently painted a part of the Berlin wall which sold for €500,000. Why did the Berlin Wall attract so much attention by street artists and why does it still have an allure both for artists and buyers?

You know this was a unique place where people could express themselves, it could not be stopped by the West Berlin police for example. Of course it was also some kind of damaging of property, that’s how people talk about graffiti in general but then this was an open space, a special space where people could go there and express themselves. People from school classes from all over the world came they had in mind they were prepared to do something and also artists from everywhere and groups from China, from Philippines, from everywhere.

Much has been said of the opportunity for expression that the Berlin Wall provided street artists, but do you feel that it ever played the role of cultural diplomacy, not only expressing ideas but also spreading them?

I think people actually came from all over the world to take photographs with themselves and the art at the Wall. I know that Leonardo DiCaprio said that this is his favorite photo, that he was taken in front of the Wall, in front of the heart, and he still likes this photos.

Do you feel that tagging and other forms of graffiti, which can often be considered vandalism, undermine the credibility of those who have something to say through their art?

Well, you know, I have of course, I respect everybody who expresses themselves somehow and I don’t differentiate so much between graffiti and art because the limits are really very opened but I personally am not so much for this king of writings but I consider that so many people like it. I really think art should replace the whole publicity, there is too much publicity in all over the cities and I would like to have it exchanged by either graffiti well done, there is of course less and it is the same with art.

Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies Publication
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy

www.ccds-berlin.de
www.culturaldiplomacy.org

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The London Art as Cultural Diplomacy ConferenceAugust 21st, 2013

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