Sunday, August 21, 2016

Germany: Graffiti artists are turning swastikas into adorable animals

Via The Verge:
Ibo Omari’s war against swastikas began earlier this year, when a man walked into his Berlin graffiti store and asked for a few cans of spray paint. The man had been playing with his son at a nearby playground and noticed a huge Nazi flag painted on an adjacent wall. The father wanted to paint over the flag himself, but Omari wouldn't let him.

"We said we are going to take care of it — don’t spend any money, don’t get your hands dirty," Omari recalls. "So we went there and made something beautiful out of it."

Within a few minutes, Omari and another artist transformed the giant swastika into a cartoonish mosquito, effectively neutering a symbol that continues to haunt Germany. Not long afterward, another friend told Omari of another swastika they had seen painted in a Berlin park, and suggested that he perform the same kind of street art alchemy.

Thus began Paintback, a campaign to change neo-Nazi graffiti into playful images. Over the last few months, Omari and 11 other members of his graffiti collective have transformed around 50 swastikas into a variety of whimsical designs: rabbits, owls, even Rubik’s cubes. The campaign began in Berlin and has since spread to other cities across Germany, thanks in large part to social media.

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