In the territory of the skatepark sprayers

By Laura TomassiniLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

It is probably hard to overlook: Anyone driving past the "Geesseknäppchen" school campus in Hollerich will notice the imposing "Monk" graffiti at the top of the skatepark. It's actually strange that a spray-painted name on a building is suddenly part of the cityscape, as if it had always been there. Graffiti artist Stick was there when everything started in Hollerich in 1998  at least officially.

"Back then, the administration of the skatepark contacted us to organise a graffiti jam as part of a skate contest. We were supposed to paint the inside of the hall, the rest of the slaughterhouse was still all white at the time, " Stick recalls. In 1998, the Luxembourgish artist was one of the first in the Grand Duchy to give the famous spray can a constant and establish a scene. Graffiti had already found its way to Luxembourg in the early 70s. However, the art only really became big with the later skatepark clique, which sprayed their paint all over the country. Public buildings, bridges, hidden walls – there were no limits to the territory of the "graffiti artists", their names could be found almost everywhere. Inside the Hollerich skatepark, however, a very special clientele was meant to feel at home, Stick and his buddies were exactly the right people to talk to.

His tracks, as well as those of Spike, Sumo and Epos, ran like breadcrumbs from the city core to the youth centre where the sprayers spent their free time at the end of the 90s. "The scene had already developed around 1995, with organised events and connections abroad, to Trier or Brussels, " says the artist, who got the name "Stick" from a buddy because of his long, thin physical appearance. The Hollerich "Hall of Fame" was one of the small projects through which the graffers gained legality. Before that, the law of the jungle prevailed in Luxembourg, as Stick likes to call it: "As the son of businessmen, I never liked stealing, but if you didn't steal cans or car paint in the 70s and 80s, you didn’t really belong to the scene at all."

A whole culture

In the skatepark, too, it quickly became apparent that graffiti cannot be tamed – not even as part of an official commission. Initially only intended to be a spray session in a small circle, the Hollerich project quickly burst at the seams and the originally white outer walls of the buildings became a target for the artists. "We gradually took more and more space until at some point it became relatively blatant and the people in charge wanted to paint over everything again, " says Stick. Around 30 men had found their way to Luxembourg to redesign the old slaughterhouse. In the process, the initiative attracted not only sprayers, but numerous different faces from the scene. "In the past, this was relatively uniform. It was all mixed and connected with the other disciplines. You'd go to a concert, meet rappers, DJs, there were breakdancers, graffers tagged the toilets. It was a whole culture."

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A targeted fight