Monday, October 3, 2016


Since last Tuesday my neighborhood, die Wiehre, has been all excited. Over the preceding two weeks artist Tom Brane had been implementing a painting on the front of a house located at the corner of Konradstraße/Kirchstraße. He had the consent of the owner who apparently was happy that with Brane's embellishing action the ugly graffitis would disappear.

Red Baron frequently passes the building built during the 1870s in a historicist style. I had always wondered about the bad external condition of the house with front and side faces being disfigured by graffiti. Hence, Brane's work must be regarded as an improvement of the deplorable site. Here is a photo of his oeuvre still in progress:

It seems that there will be no progress anymore unless you regard a whitewash of Brane's painting as such. What happened? One of the neighbors felt disturbed by Brane's activity and informed Freiburg's construction authorities. They ordered the immediate stop of all painting activities with the argument that the house in question is under landmark preservation: Wir gehen im Moment davon aus, dass das Graffito eine erhebliche Beeinträchtigung des Denkmals darstellt (At the moment we consider the graffito as a substantial impairment of the landmark). The ordered stop also prevents the side face, still untouched, from being painted.

In the meantime many neighbors are collecting signatures in favor of a continuation of Brane's oeuvre. The initiator of the supporting campaign thinks that the opinion of the people is clear: The artwork must be finished.

Brane himself argued that over the last 15 years nobody had given a hoot about landmark preservation when the house had been in a sad state disfigured by graffiti while his work embellishes the building. However, this is not a valid argument for it is obvious that landmark preservation cannot protect landmarks 24 hours a day against sprayers but must fight any deliberate modification.

Here is a close-up showing some supporting  slogans written on panels: We are Wiehre; We are Freiburg; We are cosmopolitan & tolerant; We love art, children, creativity*; We love a beautiful & harmonious life with each other.
*In German alliterated: Kunst, Kinder, Kreativität. Germany has advanced a long way from the three Ks being interpreted as Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children, kitchen, church) in the Second Reich.

Please continue the painting
Will the book of petition signatures change into a book of condolences next week?

P.S.: On October 10, members of Freiburg's landmark commission visited the building and broke the deadlock without losing face. The commission inspected the inside of the house and stated that changes made between 1968 and 1979 to historical surfaces and equipment inside are such that the building can no longer be regarded as a landmark. Although this decision raises many a question what counts is that Tom Brane may continue with his graffito and everybody is happy.

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