City Language Berlin is the third book from Prestel that I've reviewed recently. The others, Berlin Street Art
and London Street Art
, were in the same style as this one; small, hardback, brief introduction from the author, lots of photos without any accompanying text. So even though the title is different, I'm considering this one to be part of the same series as the others. You might wonder why they'd have two books in the series on Berlin. One reason perhaps being Prestel have offices in Berlin. The other is that this one is on slightly different subject matter from the Street Art books. This one also has lots of street art photos, but also much more besides.
So, as mentioned, this book starts with a short introduction in German and English, outlining the author's thoughts and reasons behind the book. Then onto the photos. One big difference between this book and the Street Art books is that Mangler has divided it into sections, and then grouped the photos within the sections by categories. The sections are Painted, Sprayed, Pasted and Freestyle. The section titles don't matter that much, as he only loosely follows them. Then each section has an index page outlining the categories contained within. I won't list them, but basically every couple of pages or so is a new category.
And each category consists of several photos of the same things, e.g. a few pages of particular stencils, or stickers, or shop signs, or abandoned bicycles, or the number 44 in different fonts, or interesting rubbish, or faded soviet-era signs, etc etc. The majority of the book is street art of one kind or another, but it's all interesting. Much of the street art is familiar, e.g. Faile, Banksy, Nomad, The London Police, but also lots of other stuff too.
I'd say the author perhaps doesn't know much about graffiti, but he clearly likes it, along with everything else he's documented so thoroughly here. The way the photos are presented grouped thematically is a big improvement over Berlin Street Art (about which I said "some kind of themed linking of the images might have helped").
This isn't just a book for street art fans, it's a book about urban detritus, "showing you a different Berlin, the 'underside' of the metropolis a long way from the familiar sights, thereby exploring the theme of what makes Berlin so unique."
Buy it from Amazon
The author has a website with lots of photos which should give you an idea of what to find in the book; visit it at citylanguage.com