The works of Berlin artist Kera feature stencil-like abstract shapes that interact dynamically with their surrounding architecture and surfaces. His most recent project and a particular challenge is the redesign of S-Bahn railway station Wedding, classified as an „urban hot spot“ by the district administration.
„So bunt wie der Wedding“ („As colourful as the district of Wedding“) is the slogan for the artistic transformation of the building, part of a series of modernizations of 17 selected Berlin S-Bahn stations, commissioned by Deutsche Bahn.
Knowing the work of Kera you will be surprised by the colour scheme chosen for this project: brighter than usual, with alternating cold and warm colour fields. Normally blending in with the urban space by the use of a very reduced selection of colours, Kera’s concept here is integrating two aspects. The colours of the surroundings are picked up and focused on the station as their centre. In addition, as per the intentions of the commissioners, the district of Wedding is represented as the multicultural and diverse district that it is.
The vibrant colours and curved shapes in Kera’s latest mural are most intense in the entrance hall of the building and swing off to either side. The composition of the artwork can thus be interpreted as a guidance for the passengers to find the platforms. At the same time, the historical facade of the station had to be taken into account during the project. Only in 2002 Wedding station, one of the oldest circle line stops in Berlin, had been re-opened. Due to the Berlin Wall it had been out of service for more than 40 years. The day of the re-opening, 15/06/2002, was celebrated as the day of closing the last gap in the circle line and had been called Wedding Day.
A look back to the history of the train station reminds us that the district around it had been known as „Red Wedding“, an infamous working class neighbourhood that until very recently had still been considered to offer modest rents. Nowadays a lack of housing, price increases and gentrification have reached the district of Wedding as well. The district‘s atmosphere has often been advertised as „authentic“ and „rural“. Now the growing neighbourhood is threatened by these new developments. Hence the new design of Wedding station, even though harmonically conceptualized, poses a controversy. Several times the work of Kera and his crew has been boycotted – very likely politically motivated and related to the reasonable fear of „upgrading“ the district and the consequences thereof. What needs to be discussed in that context though is: What possibilities to design public space remain? And: Are concerns over Kera’s newest piece (an artwork of shapes and lines that integrate here in best craftmanship both the function of a train station as a traffic hub and its historical presence) proportional, with regards to the actual „systems of upgrading“? Systems which are politically manufactured and typically precede neighbourhoods being stigmatised as „urban hot spots“ in the first place.