Colours of Resilience by herakut
For two weeks in June 2014 there was an exhibition in the Frankfurt district of Sachsenhausen called “Colours of Resilience”. It was announced as a “group exhibition featuring a collection of works from Street Art projects in Syrian refugee camps and communities and across North Jordan.”
The exhibition was organized by Jasmin Siddiqui (the ‘hera’ of herakut), who had gone to Jordan a few months earlier with her colleague Falk Lehmann to work with Samantha Robison and her organization aptART (Awareness & Prevention Through Art). Together they held mural workshops for Jordanian and Syrian children, and worked inside the refugee camp Zaatari.
I went to this exhibition twice, first by myself for the opening (when I finally met the two artists in person) and again a week later to show it to a visiting VirtualTourist member, lacristina of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Second photo: Another big floor-to-ceiling painting at the exhibition.
Third photo: The painter and photographer Falk Lehmann (the ‘akut’ of herakut) spent several days “in the child friendly spaces of Zaatari refugee camp interacting with boys and girls at play.” He took these photos when the children were hanging upside down, as a reminder of how “their perspectives on life have been distorted” because their “homes and cities have been reduced to rubble and their lives turned upside down.” (You can see these portraits here, on akut's website.)
Fourth photo: At this well-attended meeting in the middle of the exposition hall, Bernd Mesovic of Pro Asyl and the Syrian journalist Ruba Alkudsi talked with Jasmin Siddiqui about the situation in the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan.
Fifth photo: The painting of this refugee girl was to me the most chilling artwork of the exposition. The caption reads: “That was when I decided to never ever let anyone come close again.” To emphasize this, the artists have driven dozens of nails through the painting from the back, so her whole black cape is bristling with sharp nails to keep people away.
Address: Schulstraße 1, Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen
Street Art by herakut in Frankfurt am Main.
Castle Festival and Street Art in Bad Vilbel, near Frankfurt am Main.
- Arts and Culture
Street art by herakut
Up to now Frankfurt has not been known as a hotbed of street art, but that may be changing with this large mural called "Better than Perfection" by herakut, two German artists (Hera and Akut) who have been working together since 2004 painting wall murals all over the world.
You can find this wall painting near the Eschenheimer Tor, behind the construction site where the English-language movie theater Turm Palast used to be. On YouTube there is an interesting time-lapse/split-screen video showing how they created this large painting.
"Better than Perfection" is part of a series called “The giant storybook project”, a children’s book in the form of large wall paintings spread all over the planet, for instance in Toronto, Melbourne and San Francisco. The one in Frankfurt is the newest (as of the end of 2013), but it shows the beginning of the story, with the heroine ‘Lilly’ as a baby in her mother’s arms. As the story continues, Lilly grows up as an outsider but eventually finds her way in life and presumably will also find her twin brother who grew up on the other side of an impenetrable wall.
For those who do not wish to contribute to air pollution by flying all over the world to see these paintings, herakut will no doubt publish photos of them as a book at some point. They have already brought out two books: The Perfect Merge showing their work from 2004 to 2009 and After the Laughter, a scrapbook from 2009 to 2011.
The reason they called their first book The Perfect Merge is that the two of them have very different painting styles. When they make a new painting, Hera starts by spraying the outlines in long, spontaneous, curvy and sometimes aggressive black lines. Then Akut takes over and fills in some of the spaces with surface textures and photorealistic details.
Hera’s real name is Jasmin Siddiqui. She was born here in Frankfurt am Main in 1981. In an interview on German television she said she got her start by writing “Truth Hurts” on walls when she was twelve. Another thing she says in interviews is: “If you have trouble spraying a straight line, then don’t do it.”
Akut’s real name is Falk Lehmann. He was born in 1978 in a town called Schmalkalden, Thüringen, where herakut now have an atelier. Hera and Akut are very conscious of the fact that they grew up on different sides of a wall, so it is no coincidence that the twins in their “giant storybook project” also grew up on different sides of a wall, but a fantasy wall, not the one between East and West Germany.
Unlike Jana and JS, another woman-and-man painting team of the same generation who also roam the world making huge wall paintings, Jasmin and Falk are not a couple in their private lives. In an English-language interview in The Lab Magazine, Jasmin said they had once been lovers for a short time, but “then we totally realized it wasn’t about that at all. We’re like twins in a way. We’re so close a relationship wouldn’t work.”
So now, when they are not painting somewhere together, Hera (Jasmin) lives in Heidelberg with her boyfriend and Akut (Falk) lives in Munich.
More videos about herakut on youtube.com.
Videos about herakut on vimeo.com.
Update April 2014: herakut have just come out with a completely new website (with the same URL http://www.herakut.de/). It now includes a full page on their Frankfurt project. Among other things, they write: “Frankfurt will have this mural for three years.” – meaning presumably that in 2017 some new building will be built in front of the painting.
They also say that they are preparing a new show in Frankfurt with the title “Blood, Sweat and Tears” – “more infos coming soon”.
Colours of Resilience by herakut in Frankfurt am Main.
Castle Festival and Street Art in Bad Vilbel, near Frankfurt am Main.
Street Art in Butte-aux-Cailles, Paris, featuring Jana & JS, the blood-sucking HADOPI and Miss-Tic.
Street of the Five Diamonds in Paris, featuring Miss-Tic in the second photo.
Jana & JS on Joan of Arc Street in Paris.
Belleville: Beware of words by Ben Vautier, in Paris.
Belleville: Jean Le Gac's detective in Paris.
Gaza Strip by Blu, in Prague.
- Arts and Culture
Offenbach is a large city that practically forms a part of Frankfurt, but stubbornly refuses to join it. There is a history of antagonism between the two cities, and it lingers to this day. They don't like each other at all, and although you can live in Offenbach and see Frankfurt on the other side of the river, they see themselves as two distinct identities.
When Frankfurt was an Imperial city, those who were refused entry inside its city walls took refuge in Offenbach. All the outcasts: the immigrants, the poor, the Jews and the others not welcome inside Frankfurt lived here, and the difference between the two cities remains today.
Frankfurt's city center can be seen from all over Offenbach with its shiny skyscraper's advertising their wealth across the river. In comparison Offenbach is a scruffy and undistiguished suburban sprawl. Amazingly, though, Offenbach ends up being even more cosmopolitan than its neighbour, with an even higher proportion of foreigners in its population than even Frankfurt itself.
In September 2011 the Occupy Wall Street movement began in New York, protesting inequality, the power of banks and “the greed and corruption of the 1%” – meaning the richest one percent of the population. The movement quickly spread to other cities throughout the world, including Frankfurt as Germany’s principal financial center.
After a false start in September, protesters in Frankfurt set up camp in October 2011 under the big Euro sign in the park in front of the EuroTower, which is the provisional headquarters of the European Central Bank.
The sign under the big Euro reads: "Let us talk about the future! Now!"
Second photo: This sign reads: “Dear Occupy-Critics, do not expect finished solutions. Come and help us find some!” Discussions about how to end inequality and solve the world financial crisis are conducted daily and anyone is welcome to join in, including bankers who work in the nearby skyscrapers.
Third photo: Tents in the banking district. The banner in the foreground says: “You occupy money. We occupy the world.” The building in the background on the left is the Frankfurt Opera.
Fourth photo: Notice board entitled “Breaking Banks”, with an Italian Peace flag at the top.
Fifth photo: This sign is in French: “For a better world.”
For more photos of “Occupy Frankfurt” see my tip Frankfurt Skyline Countdown, # 13 on my Land Hessen page.
Sausage Vendors at the Xmas Mart
The sausages of various makes and mixtures, cooked over a charcoal/wood grill produces some of the most delicious meals known to man. Throw some grilled sausages on a roll, smother in grilled onions, add some mustard to taste and AAAHHHHH...
- Food and Dining
A very diverse, cosmopolitan city. Many, many cigarette smokers. Most restaurants don't expect you for dinner before 8 p.m. at the earliest. Virtually everyone speaks English as their second language. Most smaller restaurants do not take credit cards, so bring enough Euros.
Try Bethmännchen, Frankfurt’s famous sweets
I briefly checked if VT has any tip on this delicious local sweets and as there is none (Don, why didn’t you already wrote about them?), I thought, I could mention them.
Bethmännchen (literally translated into little Bethmann, albeit more of these) is a very much delicious pastry which we eat for Christmas. It consists of marzipan, almonds, sugar, flour, egg and rosewater, all formed to small balls, which are decorated with almond halves, glazed with egg yolk and then baked.
The name derives from an old family, local to Frankfurt. Their pastry chef Jean Jacques Gautenier has developed the recipe in 1838, at least is what legend says. Originally they are said to have four almonds, one for each of the Bethmann sons Moritz, Alexander, Karl and Heinrich and that after Heinrich’s death in 1845, one almond was left aside. However, this is what legends say, and they might be even older, as the father Simon Moritz von Bethmann died already in 1826.
Well, legend or not – they are very much delicious and a perfect gift to bring back home, in case you are at Frankfurt during Christmas times :-)
I should mention that I took the photo and then they vanished to please my tastes and stomach, and only then I transferred the photos to my computer.... When I realised that I was a bit out of focus... it was too late. Sorry !
- Business Travel
- Food and Dining
- Road Trip
Ebbelwoi - Love It or Hate It
Ebbelwoi is the local drink - apple wine, cider. You'll either like it or hate it - be warned , it is not sweet at all. It takes a while to get used to it, the first sip tastes terrible, but after the second glass you'll love it forever...
Ebbelwoi is ordered and served in a Bembel (a grey pottery jar with blue pattern). They come in different sizes: 2, 4, 6, 8... The number indicates how many glasses of Ebbelwoi the jar contains. The typical Ebbelwoi glasses have a chequered pattern and hold 0.25 litres. For a party of 4 adults (the stuff has more alcohol than beer, thus is not for children) I'd order a 6er Bembel and a bottle of sparkling water.
It is common and totally acceptable to pour a splash of sparkling water into the apple wine to make the drink more refreshing. This is called "Sauergespritzter" ("splashed sour") and especially great on hot days. Some people prefer it as "Süßgespritzter" ("splashed sweet"), i.e. a splash of sweet lemonade added.
- Wine Tasting
- Food and Dining
Wicked cool Christmas markets!
I was in Frankfurt one year as they started putting up the shacks on the Römerberg, for the Christmas Market. At the time, I didn't know about these markets... I'd seen them in picture books from Alsace but didn't know it was a German tradition.
It was surprising to see this frantic building activity start suddenly... after all, the place was dead quiet the day before. Now I'd spent a couple of hours in a warm restaurant and the Römerberg was unrecognisable when I came out! Pine branches everywhere, music, bells, and most of all, a wonderful aroma floating in the cold air.
This was November 24, it was dark at 3 p.m. -- I wondered if I'd had too much wine or if they'd moved the Square during lunch... I had to find my way back to Sachsenhausen hahaha...
One man in a sort of Santa Claus house called me and gave me two sausages! Too bad I wasn't hungry anymore... Then he gave me a little paper cup of something to drink, maybe it was Glühwein? But I think I'd have recognised it... I knew a Swedish guy who made spice wine for Christmas and I had tasted his production (yum!), it's got to be similar. I rather think it was Apfelwein, which I'd had the two previous nights, mostly for the fun company found at the bar near the hostel...
Is it possible that Apfelwein is offered at Christmas Markets? My host had the largest mustache I'd ever seen and a booming voice. I don't know how I managed to tell him that it was my birthday but I guess I did... He didn't want me to pay a thing, just wanted me to taste and show thumbs up for his products. So I tasted and smiled widely, like a sandwich-advert man. Sachsenhausen could wait...
After that trip, I heard about Christmas Markets on VT, more and more. I used to think they were real old-fashioned... but I was wrong, it seems that drinking Glühwein in the cold of the night is cool and fun. This year, I'll try to make it back to Frankfurt and go visit my friend Christine (tini58de) in Karlsruhe. They have a tradition of organising a VT meeting during Christmas Market and I'd like to be part of it now. My fingers are still crossed, not absolutely sure I can go yet...
Frankfurt may not have the advantage of a long history of artistic and architectural creativity, but it has long been a wealthy city, and the rich like to build beautiful buildings. In recent years, the city has not kept up with places like Moscow, Miami, London or Dubai in encouraging cutting-edge design, but it has made a notable effort to preserve traditional styles and its architectural history. In particular, Römerberg and the surrounding area showcase the sort of traditional Gothic homes associated with Germany, which the areas near the Hauptwache contain a richer display of neo-Classical and neo-Renaissance structures. Willy Brandy Platz is where visitors can find greater examples of modern architecture, although the emphasis at this stage appears to have been on functionality rather than beauty.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
One interesting aspect of life in Frankfurt (at least for me) was the relative abundance of quick, cheap and greasy fare in the old centre of the city. In general, I always expect that areas like these will be full of more expensive restaurants catering to businesspeople and tourists. Not so: in Frankfurt, evidently, businesspeople and ordinary citizens alike are quite happy to sit at outdoor markets and chomp on greasy sausages and pork cutlets. These stalls also sell various local products, although I’m pretty sure that the produce sold in mid-January was imported.
A local favourite
Äppelwoi, Äppler, Appelwein, Ebbelwoi, Ebbelwei, Schoppe, Stöffche are all names that can be used in Frankfurt to indicate the most typical local drink: apple wine.
I am not an expert of cider, but I enjoyed several glasses of Apfelwein before and during a dinner at a typical “Apfelweinlokale” and I found that its fresh, slightly acidic taste goes together well with most foods.
I learned that this Apfelwein is made only from apples, of the varieties "Schafsnase", "Trierer Weinapfel", "Rheinischer Bohnapfel", "Kaiser Wilhelm", "Bittenfelder", "Brettacher" and "Roter Boskoop", without any addition of other fruit. Its contents of alcohol is around 5 or 6 %.
The jug you see in the picture is a miniature copy of a Bembel, the typical jugs used to serve Apfelwein. It is made of clay, cooked at 1200°C, and glazed with salt. It is traditionally decorated with a blue design on a grey background.
Frankfurt's skyline is dominated by skyscrapers, near its historic center/ downtown unlike some other German and European cities who restrict these constructions around historical areas. Due to its inumerous skyscrapers, and also because Frankfurt is bathed by River Main, it is often called Mainhattan or Chicago am Main.
The reason for Frankfurt's skyscrapers is related to WWII bombings. The historic centre of the city was highly damaged by bombs, and only part of the main landmarks were rebuilt. So, it was easier to approve the construction of high buildings than in other cities whose historic centre was well preserved.
The first skyscrapers date from late 1960s and are still not well accepted by locals.
Whenever I'm in Frankfurt on a Saturday, there is a demonstration. Maybe it's a coincidence, but there certainly are lots of demonstrations, usually between the area at the city hall -Roemer - to the area at the old opera house, or vice versa.
The picture here is from a demonstration asking for better schools and more teachers. While parents and teachers were marching, waving their banners, there were also some kids marching along. They were shouting" School's out! School's out!"
Somehow I think they didn't quite understand what this was all about...
As I already mentioned in my Introduction the reason for actually visiting a little of Frankfurt was an invitation to a VT meeting! We had so much fun!!! Apart from the pictures here in my Frankfurt travelogues, make sure to have a look at nemorino's fabulous VT meeting travelogue!