‘You see here? It’s part of a graffiti work,’ explained my friend while showing me her collection of fridge magnets from around the world. ‘A shame it isn’t the entire piece and I can’t tell what the message was sprayed on the wall. But I imagine it’s something to do with freedom and taking down the wall.’ She was holding a piece of concrete with faded paint on one side and mounted to a magnet on the other. A small plaque attached underneath says ‘Berlin Wall fragment’, indicating its origin and history.
How apt, I thought, that a genre born out of the countercultural movement to dismantle the wall between art institutions and popular culture becomes the face of a wall whose symbolic power resides in its demolition. And how interesting, that despite the historic fall, the wall’s power to separate still defines the existence of street art today.