“Bosso Fataka” turn trash into sculpture

August 8, 2012

By Tom Peter

Some call it street art; Bosso Fataka call it “joy in shaping our environment.” The environment that surrounds the four young men of this art group is the streets of Berlin, a city that some say has become Europe’s unofficial capital of unsanctioned art in the public space.

Over twenty years after the reunification, there is an abundance of derelict houses, whole swathes of industrial wasteland and railway arches that afford artists with square kilometers worth of brickwork that’s just asking to be covered in graffiti.

But art being art, this scene’s actors have gone beyond the traditional spray can work. There’s stenciling, urban knitting, urban gardening… you name it. The interested visitor can go on a tour around central Berlin, where well-informed insiders will show you the most notable examples of urban art. Bosso Fataka do what you might call “urban wrapping.”

The four friends, all in their early twenties, discovered ordinary cling wrap as their main tool because of its compounding qualities: it is adhesive, tear-proof, shiny and transparent. Cling wrap gives the rubbish they use as components for their sculptures a bodily shape that allows the onlooker to perceive the creation as a whole, melting pieces of trash into an entity without concealing the individual parts.

Humor plays an important role in their work. It’s a humor that is subtle and weird, sometimes thought-provoking, but never meant to please. “Street art is always egocentric,” one member of the group said. “We don’t care if you like it. We just do it.”

They share this notion of self-indulgent parody with the art form that inspired their name: Bosso Fataka is a fragment of the poem “Karawane” by Hugo Ball, one of the key figures of the early-twentieth century Dada art-movement.

But the parallel ends here. Bosso Fataka’s work is contemporary and ephemeral. Their pieces rarely remain for longer than a couple of weeks, until municipal workers remove them, leaving photographs on their Facebook page as the sole documentation of their activity.

Working on the edge of legality, the four artists want to remain anonymous and thereby adhere to one of the hallmarks of urban art that puts the act of creation and not the artist at the center of their work. In this respect Bosso Fataka epitomizes the lifestyle that many associate with trendy Berlin: creativity instead of consumerism, and subversive fun instead of institutionalized entertainment.

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