The so-called graffiti Meca, Berlin hosts a plethora of street artists from all over the world who create stunning murals and contribute to its rich street art heritage. With a long history of counter culture, the city attracts thousands of tourists who take the guided street art tours around the city. Yet, the recent Borondo mural has stirred quite a controversy and unsettled Berlin residents. Painted on the wall of an apartment building in the Tegel neighborhood, the mural has even inspired the residents to launch a petition for its removal. What they found so upsetting about it was the imagery depicted, since it shows a young refugee girl covered in blood and a vulnerable naked body pierced with an arrow.
The girl in a white gown is covered in blood while standing in a bloody pond and next to her, the naked body is handcuffed against the tree in the woods with a leg pierced by an arrow. These are the motifs of the Spanish artist Borondo’s mural in Tegel, Berlin. The Gewobag housing association has commissioned the mural to reflect the horrors of the refugee crisis that have been shaking the world for the last two years. The mural is part of the series Artpark Tegel that is so far consisted of five paintings by the street art network Urban Nation. This 42-meter-tall mural has upset the residents who find it very frightening. Others feel that the imagery can evoke a painful memory for those fleeing from war and violence.
As Germany accepted more than 1 million asylum seekers last year as part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy, the mural comes amid the plans to open a refugee home in the area. Although it is very direct and even brutal at first sight, there is a strong political statement behind it according to the spokesperson for Gewobag housing association. A child covered in blood sees a person who stands tall and upright despite its vulnerability and wounds from an arrow. Apart from pain, this mural also sends an optimistic message.
As a response to people’s revolt against his work, Borondo has written a lengthy post on Facebook. He explained that he used different references and images to create a big collage coming together. The gap in the wall represents a double dimension through which the girl peeps into the reality that shows St. Sebastian placed in a snow forest. Through this peep hole, the reality that we often tend to ignore can be seen and understood if we want. The gap also represents Europe that keeps its own children away from horrors by closing the doors to problems caused by its economic politics. He feels that the controversy concerning the red as a colour seems superficial when compared to real people next door suffering. He invited everyone to open ‘our minds and stop looking at the drama through our save screens’.
Featured image: Borondo mural in Berlin, via streetartnews.net