In Berlin, a shadowy street artist known as Vermibus transforms mundane billboards into creepy macabre frightscapes

Many municipal bus-stop advertisements leave much to be desired, especially this one ugh. Enter Vermibus, a Berlin-based street artist who's on a mission to turn soul-deadening billboards into museum-quality masterpieces, although in his own wonderfully creepy way.

When Vermibus sees a street poster he thinks could use some sprucing up Kate Moss has been one target, to judge from this distressing glimpse into what's either his studio or Charlie Manson's old basement he pulls it from its protective frame and takes it back home. There, he defiles the people depicted in the ad with a corrosive solvent, so that their bodies look like pillars of melting lard. Then he slips back outside and puts the new and improved billboard back in place, where it lies waiting to shock the grocery bags out of some poor grannie's hands.

Regarding his unique process, the Open Walls Itinerant Street Art Gallery has this to say:

The gesture of erasing the images with solvent is similar to the gesture of painting, but it is painting counter action. The process is the same, but it is not adding colours on a canvas to create an image, it is removing the colors of an existing photographic image to create a new image and new characters. The models of the adverts have mutated. Some look like ghosts or mummies, some are reminiscent of Francis Bacon’s paintings, some of tribal make-up.

This process evokes voodoo art which uses human elements like hair, or teeth to create anthropomorphic sculptures. In this context, Vermibus uses “glossy paper” as his flesh to manipulate. There is something very organic about the emaciated creatures that emanate from the billboards. The impersonal and sanitized perfect bodies have turned into shadows or mummies that have much more presence and singularity.

Emphasis mine, to fete this outstanding use of understatement.

This November, Vermibus performed an intervention outside the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. Urban photog JUST was there to document the artist's monstrous alteration of Berlin's city skin. Have a look:

(Photos courtesy of JUST.)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  2. Design

    The Curious Politics of a Montreal Mega-Mall

    The car-dependent suburb it’ll be built in wants to greenlight Royalmount against the city government’s wishes but it needs them to pay for the public infrastructure.

  3. Multicolored maps of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tampa, denoting neighborhood fragmentation
    Equity

    Urban Neighborhoods, Once Distinct by Race and Class, Are Blurring

    Yet in cities, affluent white neighborhoods and high-poverty black ones are outliers, resisting the fragmentation shown with other types of neighborhoods.

  4. Equity

    Berlin Builds an Arsenal of Ideas to Stage a Housing Revolution

    The proposals might seem radical—from banning huge corporate landlords to freezing rents for five years—but polls show the public is ready for something dramatic.

  5. A photo of a visitor posing for a photo with Elvis in downtown Nashville
    Perspective

    Cities: Don’t Fall in the Branding Trap

    From Instagram stunts to Edison bulbs, why do so many cities’ marketing plans try to convince people that they’re exactly like somewhere else?