Oz * 1950 in Heidelberg; † September 25, 2014 in Hamburg
Photo by Randy Rocket
1977: Jimmy Carter becomes President of the USA, Amnesty International receives the Nobel Peace Prize and Helmut Schmidt is German Chancellor. Who would have noticed that a small man quietly but obtrusively began to spray the gray concrete walls around him with his works of smileys, lettering, squiggles, spirals and dots.
Almost 30 years later, the situation is already different: The sprayer, who is now known throughout Germany under the name »Oz«, is sentenced to several years in prison for his work. Encouraged by fans and supporters, fueled by opponents and despisers, both from the most diverse subcultures, from social and political classes, a public discussion about his works ensues, which is then presented and prepared for a wide audience in the media.
The core of the discussion, in addition to the question of the rights of citizens and artists in public space, is always the value of their work in an artistic context. In addition, Oz mainly targets gray walls and dreary surfaces with his works - works which he distributes in unrivaled numbers and masses throughout the city: all city. This brought him a lot of respect, especially in the sprayer and writer scene, although he neither felt he belonged nor actively maintained contact with its members. But ordinary people also enjoy the colorful smileys and characteristic large-scale wall paintings, as a smile often conjures up a new smile.
However, he does not always encounter positive feedback, as he relentlessly and despite all bans, arrests, threats and abuse vehemently defended himself by continuously disregarding norms and socially imposed values. The associated, never-ending wave of lawsuits can therefore only be understood as a logical consequence in a constitutional state.
The person Oz is revered as ostracized, hero and hunted in one person, in constant confrontation with his own controversies and the public debate about his work.