Scratching | Kratzen


an exhibition project of Martin Zawadzki in colllaboration with Ursula Scherrer and Moritz Fehr

website: www.scratching-kratzen.de
video: www.scratching-kratzen.de/de/video.htm



installation / performance

works on paper


single channel video


bio / resume


from Martin Zawadzki:

The installation SCRATCHING – KRATZEN at AFTER THE BUTCHER (Berlin) took place/was installed in two rooms. 15 prints of decommissioned windows of the S-Bahn in Berlin were placed in the entrance hall of the gallery, printed in their original size onto handmade paper.

In the adjacent room the walls were lined/covered from floor to ceiling with 'Anti-Graffiti' patterned vinyl that used to cover the seats of the S-Bahn. Designing this pattern was the first response of the S-Bahn executives to the writing and tagging of the benches.

In this room – looking at a monitor, one could witnesses the act of scratching of an S-Bahn window. The video was recorded during a live performance that took place on several days as part of the exhibition.

For this performance an unscratched S-Bahn window was sprayed with black spray paint. A camera was installed underneath the glass which transferred the act of scratching – with the help of video projectors – directly onto the ceilings and walls.

The scratching became visible through the traces of light, that the destruction of the black surface left behind. The projections of the live scratching – onto the ceilings and walls, overlapped with the printed scratchings of the unframed prints.

The sound was captured directly from the glass with contact microphones and was played back through sound exiters, which were attached to the windows of the former butchery.

These sound recordings became part of the exhibition.


It was during the film shoot of the documentary 'Der Vierte Sektor' that for the first time, I consciously came across the phenomena of scratched S-Bahn windows.

The theme of this film was the re-education of the unemployed into detectives and bodyguards.

I planned with Uwe, one of my protagonist, an interview. We decided to do it in the S-Bahn. At the time it was equipped with wooden decor, vinyl seats with anti-graffiti pattern and windows, which were still scratchable.

In this interview Uwe reveals his view of the world, his life and existential fears and experiences, his life which he lived partly on the street and was characterized by violence.

The surroundings of the S-Bahn and the atmosphere in the rail car seemed to mirror Uwe's own awareness/being, how he saw himself.

Since then quite a few things were undertaken to change this atmosphere and to suppress the scratching of the windows.

Today, through surveillance cameras and a special foil on the glass windows, this kind of expression is undermined and can mostly be prevented.

The installation SCRATCHING – KRATZEN deals with in the meanwhile almost historical phenomena.

The most excessive time of scratching windows in the U- and S-Bahn in Berlin was in the mid 1990ies.

In spring 2013 I had my last chance of receiving scratched S-Bahn windows.

I was interested in the kind of archeological work of printing, the fixation and 'making visible' on paper and the preservation of these anonymous signs over a long period of time.

By using a culturally connotated technic, as the dry point print reflects – onto the seemingly worthless windows, worth is created, respectively ascribed.

Scratching has never found its way into the art market to the same degree as Graffiti or the Street Art scene did.

The exhibition of the prints is contextually linked to a video- and audio live performance, that suggest the action, the scratching in its form of expression.

It is an integral part of the discussion within this documentary work, to highlight other miscellaneous pieces – which add to the story. First of all the anti-graffiti vinyl, with which the S-Bahn seats were upholstered to hinder Graffiti.

It occupied the space with its own normed and repeating pattern, industrially manufactured doodle pattern.

This exhibition project was created in an artistic dialogue with Ursula Scherrer (video) and Moritz Fehr (audio). The dialogue continued with the visitor and lead to a stimulating exchange.


The exhibition was realized with a grant of the Senat für kulturelle Angelegenheiten Berlin.