The World Cultural Heritage site at the Völkingen Ironworks in Germany is hosting the third Urban Art Biennale. Some 10,000 square metres of exhibition space in this 19th century factory are given over to street artists from around the world.
In amongst the concrete, iron and steel and the rough wooden floorboards of the industrial revolution the show tries to display the most important works and contemporary developments of this young and thriving art form.
“Street Art invaded the inner city street space at the end of the last century. And with its very own irrepressible power, it has established itself even against advertising messages as well as against the urban environment. And now it is on the way into museums. And the fences and the writings brought on canvas as well as real paintings have preserved this power. And Urban Art, which in particular needs this urban environment, is has a destiny to preserve this irrepressible power which drives us forward,” says curator Meinrad Maria Grewenig.
The Völklinger Hütte dates back to 1873. After the closure of iron production in 1986, the Ironworks was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. Today it is a perfect place to show urban art. One of a new generation of artists who mix street art, graffiti and pop art is Sandro Figueroa, who calls himself Sen2. The Puerto Rican-born; New York- based artist says this unique exhibition space is an inspiring place in which to display his artwork.
“It’s like an amazing museum. The architect put the pieces together, all the metal, all the cement, it’s like art. And to put one of my pieces here I feel proud, I feel amazing. I think I’m doing something beautiful and nice with my life when we put these pieces here,” he says.
Egyptian street artist Hanaa el Degham , who is now based in Berlin, is here exhibiting her artwork named ‘The return of the Egyptian spirit? Not yet realized!’ The Cairo-born artist says she is keeping her artistic activities in the streets down to the essential.
“I just go really outside when I feel; ‘Now I want to say something’. So, that’s why it’s really not very often I go outside to the street,” she says.
Over 80 artists from 23 countries are on show at the Urban Art Biennale in Völklingen near Saarbrücken, Germany, until November.