Interventions by The Wa

Berlin street artist The Wa creates projects for people in the city which blur the boundaries of private and public. Often working with the language of advertising, several of his recent interventions have been public-oriented social actions: advocating using public space to advertise people in need of jobs, creating complicated pedestrian crosswalks as symbolic interventions across busy highways, or using stickers to promote proper recycling (or provide a way for people to earn cash recycling these bottles). These are some favorite projects, which in our view are excellent instances of 'partizaning' in Berlin.


Deal of the Week

"Desperate times calling for desperate measures." This ad-hack shared people's CVs in the form of large posters which were placed in urban spaces where people are  accustomed to ads about products to buy. It resonates in our internet dominated era where "people are so keenly aware of public profiles and online presence," and at a time when so many need better jobs, why not use all opportunities to advertise their skills?




Fed up with the saturation of Berlin's billboards with posters glorifying consumption, the Wa hacked billboard posters by adding replicas of the stickers used to deter junk mail from people's mailboxes. But in this case, the statement against spam was directed to advertising companies in the city. (Interesting fact: there are only ever 6 of the same images throughout the city at any one time for a week.)


Recycle to Recycle



This 2007 intervention in the form of a sticker campaign (in collaboration with FA) not only shaped the visual identity of the streets of Berlin; it also influenced the behavior of its inhabitants. Official looking stickers were placed on approximately 10,000 bins throughout the city with the aim of promoting recycling. The pictogram on the sticker indicates that placing glass and plastic bottles inside the trashcans was forbidden, and that the desired action was to place them on the ground. A version of the sticker has been released online for anyone to download and the project has been replicated in Stockholm and in Montreal.



The ingenious part is that it allows people who collect and recycle bottles to more easily do so and opens up an informal economy based on sharing. Most people following the instructions to place the bottles next to the bin were unaware that this was an artistic intervention, or even an unofficial, non-governmental project.

According to the Wa:

The stickers were originally made of recycled materials—old ink and stickers. Friends and I would go out and stick them on trash cans, and we later made them industrial strength so that they couldn't be ripped off entirely. We found that many of them were being covered up and at some point I wrote a letter to the BSR / authorities about their removal, saying that we were putting orange stickers to stop rubbish from being spread.

Images from the artist's website: