How Toilet Art is Saving Hamburg’s Reeperbahn

vor 3 years

Clubs are dying, party dresses are dusty…
Meet me in the toilets. 

At least there might be hope for the Reeperbahn. Three Hamburgers are eager to save their vivid Kiez by successfully selling prints of the city’s finest toilet art…

I am a Berliner (and proudly so), but even I have my sweet memories of clouded nights at the eponymous Hamburger Reeperbahn. It is the one place in Hamburg’s city center that cannot be described as beautiful, by any stretch of the imagination. It is noisy, dirty, sweaty, and at times, it’s grossly unsettling. Weird people meet drunk people. Rock music from one bar clashes with pop music from the one next door. The smell of Kebab melts with the one from McDonald’s, girls in short skirts and tiny tops date guys with baggy jeans and huge sweaters. In short: It is a magical place. Or shall I say it WAS a magical place?

Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 restrictions did not agree well with the full-body-contact-wanted Reeperbahn culture. After a year of financial struggles and support from the government that came way too late, many establishments are facing existential financial threats. Now three Hamburgers stepped into action and founded Kunst fürs Klo, an online marketplace selling prints of toilet art from no less than 63 bars and clubs on Hamburg’s party street. Every cent of their sales goes directly to bar and club owners, who were initially understandably skeptical and hesitant about their bathrooms being photographed, but are now thankful for this project and the profits they find in their bank accounts.

Anne, René and Stefan, who used to share an apartment right in the heart of the popular party district, experienced how the pandemic changed their beloved „Kiez“ firsthand. To support the local establishments that have partially been there for decades and are now facing existential threats, the three of them decided to take action and found Kunst fürs Klo to help bar owners pay their rent. 38-year old marketing director René started photographing Hamburg’s finest toilet art even before the pandemic, with the aim to start an Instagram account dedicated to his passion for graffiti on tiles. Seeing how badly bar owners are struggling in front of his door step, he decided to grow his collection further and put it to good use.

With the support of his flatmate Stefan, who took shots of more than 60 bathrooms, and Anne, who created the online marketplace, they are successfully selling thousands of prints, raising over 200.000 Euros. The money from every purchase goes directly to the location which the image was taken. Soon the trio will also be covering the ceramics of Frankfurt and Berlin.

Not only does this project look much better than one would expect (I admit, when I first heard „toilet art“ I wasn’t sold right away either), but it also ensures that there will still be a Reeperbahn to get drunk at once we get the chance to go out again. In the meantime, we can always turn up the music and hang a toilet art print in our bathrooms.

Long(er) live the Reeperbahn!


Words: Ann-Kathrin Lietz

Images: Courtesy of Kunst für Klo

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