The street art collective Rocco and his Brothers has produced some of the most eye-catching, headline-grabbing and thought-provoking installations in Berlin over the past few years. This short documentary from Arte Street Atelier shows a number of their works and explores their motivations.
Describing the move from graffiti to the more politically engaged installations they are now known for the narrator says:
We noticed at some point that this graffiti thing didn’t move people enough. We wanted to play with people more, make people think more. We’re well-versed in politics, meaning it seemed logical for us to move away from letters.
It is abundantly clear that as well as possessing the technical know-how and vision to produce installations that tap into many of the most important themes and issues occupying the minds of Berliners, Rocco and his Brothers understand the importance of social media and how to use the press to spread their message.
They carefully document their own actions, providing valuable insight into the techniques they employ and the lengths they are willing to go to for their art. Videos of their installations appear on Vimeo under a variety of pseudonyms and it was by providing photos of an intervention in the Berlin underground to several Berlin newspapers that they first gained notoriety.
The photos were of an installation entitled Maisonette Love – a bedroom assembled in a Berlin U-Bahn tunnel near Rathaus Steglitz – and the story was picked up by the international press and captured the imagination of readers, myself included.
— Polizei Berlin (@polizeiberlin) July 10, 2017
Since then I have followed their adventures carefully and I’m not the only one. It was a tweet from the Berlin police in July 2017, expressing schock at the ‘desecration’ of an ATM, that alerted me to one of my favourite works, a prayer bench placed in front of the cash machine at U-Bahnhof Güntzelstraße.
This wasn’t the first time they had chosen Güntzelstraße for one of their pieces. In January 2017, two hands appeared on the orange tiles of the U9 station with the words, “Don’t need the promise of Heaven…just faith I’ll pass twenty seven.”, a reference to the number of creative and charismatic leading lights of entertainment who have died at 27. The so-called 27 club includes Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, to name a few.
— Mibbous Goon (@KiezPiece) March 7, 2018
Their most recent Berlin intervention that I’m aware of, RIP – a grave dug in the pavement at Wrangelstraße in Kreuzberg with a headstone with the inscription 6,20€ / m2 – tackles the thorny issue of gentrification and the rapid rise in rental prices in the area. A recent study by Immowelt, an online real estate portal, revealed that rental prices in Kreuzberg had risen fastest of all districts in Berlin over the five years from 2012 to 2017 (+74%) compared to an average of +51%.
The film ends with a declaration that there is more to come from Rocco and his Brothers.
There’s so much shit in this world and so much to occupy us. So much that annoys us a bit and I think it’s just the beginning. We have a lot to do. We’re ready! We see potential and a lot is going to happen!
If this documentary from Arte Street Atelier has piqued your interest and you’d like to see more from Rocco and his brothers, check out this post about The Announcement, a sound installation at U-Bahnhof Bernauer Straße, and be sure to like their Facebook page.
Arte Street Atelier – Rocco and his Brothers