Do you ever pay attention to the sidewalk you are walking on despite from looking for potential barriers, trip hazards, shards, and dog poo? My dear friend Sheraz Khan does. He has been intensely studying Berlin’s sidewalks for the last months with the eyes of an artistic urban planner scientist.
PHASE 1 | collecting
Sidewalk = sidewalk = sidewalk? Not at all. Whenever a pattern of the sidewalk seemed interesting to Sheraz – he took a picture. Whenever a cobblestone had a fascinating shape – he picked it up and took it with him. He showed extracts of his finds during the Open House at ZK/U in April 2014. Sidewalks are an essential part of moving in the city and the photos revealed their uniqueness in similarity and abstract beauty.
He also zoomed in the surface of cobblestones with his charcoal work and made the viewer discover unexpected mountain ranges.
The pattern exists and is subtly perceptible without the charcoal, but it is the charcoal that makes it apparant and visible.
PHASE 2 | re-working
Sheraz re-worked his perspective on urban texture and presented his resulting works during the Open House at ZK/U in May 2014. He lacquered his collected cobblestones and used them as stamps, emphazising on their texture. I can see a face in the prints – what do you see?
He also exhibited the lacquered cobblestones. The black, modestly shining varnish and their new artistic context let them appear as something of beauty and value.
PHASE 3 | applying
And then, in June 2014, the different strands came together when Sheraz unveiled his final work: the map of Moabit’s textures.
Other than Google’s maps or city maps, Sheraz put the sidewalks in the center of attention, banning streets and buildings to be the background actors. Even those familiar with Moabit experienced the map as something oddly familiar which they couldn’t recognize first. Common means of orientation were challenged because buildings and streets were missing as habitual guides and the quarter suddenly appeared organic instead.
It would be interesting to see a similar map of a North American city – would it appear so organic, too?
Sheraz brought the textures of the ground to my attention and now I constantly see and enjoy their diversity, e.g. in Halle/Saale lately.
Thank you so much for the journey!