John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
These tortured, melting faces appear to have escaped from someone's nightmare.
For a look at hell, one need travel no farther than Berlin. Advertisements that popped up there recently seem torn from Beelzebub's damnable flames, featuring faces melted and twisted into ghastly human simulacrums.
And that's kind of what happened to these billboards. They started out as innocuous paper but fell prey to Vermibus, a local artist with a dark mind. On an ad-busting trip during this month's Berlin Fashion Week, he went out and collected several advertisements from the Rosenthaler Platz U-bahn station. These he took back to his place and—as is customary with his macabre process—styled them with a brush and corrosive liquid, turning the models into hollow-eyed, unrecognizable nightmare-creatures.
In an interview with the Open Walls gallery, Vermibus described his interventions as "gifts for the passer-by." Some locals may appreciate the present—but that doesn't appear to be the case with the women pictured below, who look uneasy with their new subterranean companions.