How Urban Arts Are Transforming Asia’s Youth Culture

How Urban Arts Are Transforming Asia’s Youth Culture

An exhibition in Berlin spotlights how skateboarding, breakdancing, and street art are influencing Central and Eastern Asia.

Plus Aziz
  • 4 september 2011

It should come as no surprise that urban art can break down cultural boundaries, both within a society and across different groups. Despite the element of competitiveness that exists in urban arts (whether it be a breakdancing battle, the territorial wars of street artists, or global skateboarding tournaments) it all seems to move towards the spirit of global cooperation and cross-cultural understanding through the creation of communities.

As a testimony to this form of cooperation, a multi-pronged exhibition is being organized by Skateistan, Traverse, & Hip Hop Stützpunkt spotlighting urban cultures in Cambodia, Afghanistan, China and India through movie screenings, workshops, Skype-conferences, a music program, and fundraising in coordination with Berlin’s Music Week (Sept. 6th – 12th).

Re-Framing the Educational Goals of Urban Art

The creative program works towards unveiling how urban arts are capable of lifting kids from poverty and be used to disrupt cultural ignorance by inspiring discussions on the environment, health and wellness, and racism:

The event introduces projects that are using new and innovative methods in the field of social development, with their own strategies and models… Many of the people that are involved with these activities have recognized that sports and creative programs can be connected to empowerment and education… This includes initiatives like back to school programs that focus on traditional forms of education, as well as more experimental forms of education that are largely creative arts based and focus on socially inclined topics.

Here are the three core forms of urban arts that the program focuses on.

Skateboarding: Skateistan is a skateboarding school in Afghanistan with NGO status. Because it is a sport rather than a medium for personal expression,  it is acceptable on levels that other urban arts are not. But much like other urban arts, it is also a global phenomena that goes beyond regular language and contains its own vocabulary and symbolism:

Skateboarders speak to each other in a certain way about the sport that is universal, a kickflip is always a kickflip… Consequently, heritage, religion, skin color, or social status are pushed into the background. Through street cultures intercultural bridges are being built, which can be used to reduce prejudice and promote conflict resolution.

Breakdancing: Tiny Drops is another NGO in India founded by dancer Netarpal Singh Bandesha (aka Hera). It’s a hip hop school that is bringing breakdancing to India as part of an educational program that introduces creative knowledge through music, dance, and film. It is actually rather similar to Tiny Toones, which is based in Cambodia with a similar mission. Tiny Toones also cultivates the talent of some 500 students and has resources such as classrooms, computer rooms and music equipment, and a dancefloor.

For more information on the exhibitions, check out the information provided below:


Sept. 6th – Sept. 17th, 2011 / Monday-Saturday / 12.00 – 18.00 Uhr
EXHIBIT: TINY TOONES & TINY DROPS – Hip Hop Schools Cambodia & India
Hip Hop Stützpunkt, Marienburger Straße 16a / 10405 Berlin


Sept. 8th, 2011 / Thursday / 19.00 Uhr
Music: DJ URI (Tiny Drops, India), AUTO64
Hatch Sticker Museum, Brunnenstrasse 196 / 3. HH, 10119 Berlin

Sept. 15th, 2011 / Thursday / 14.00 – 21.00 Uhr
CONFERENCE: Youth Cultural Development Projects
in Conflict Regions with Zahra Said, Erika Kinast, Joel Sames u.A.
Archiv der Jugendkulturen, Fidicinstraße 3, 10965 Berlin

Sept. 16th, 2011 / Friday / 19.00 Uhr
Hip Hop Stützpunkt, Marienburger Straße 16a / 10405 Berlin


Sept. 7th, 2011 / Wednesday / 23.00 Uhr
Music: DJ URI (Tiny Drops, India), BEATEVOLUTIONERS
Cassiopeia, Revalerstraße 99, 10245 Berlin

Sept. 10th, 2011 / Saturday / 23.00 Uhr
with DJ URI (Tiny Drops, India), MARC HYPE, MITCH ALVE
Klub der Republik, Pappelallee 81, 10437 Berlin

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