Home worldGermanyChemnitz IBUG Story #1: the abandoned factory comes to life

IBUG Story #1: the abandoned factory comes to life

IBUG 2017 Even if I arrived only two days ago, the abandoned factory VEB Spezialmaschinenfabrik has already changed a lot.

I remember the first-day feeling of walking on glass debris while venturing into the empty belly of the whale and through its dark bowels.

When the afternoon light entering from the broken panes and cutting diagonally the air was the most tangible thing in a room.

IBUG 2017 abandoned factory urbex

When the whale was asleep, and unconscious.

Empty, but full with possibilities.

IBUG 2017 abandoned factory urbex IBUG 2017 abandoned factory urbex IBUG 2017 abandoned factory urbex

When the time was still stopped to the day of the factory’s closure, and the only thing bringing me back to the present was a train clanking past every 15 minutes or so.

IBUG 2017 abandoned factory urbex IBUG 2017 abandoned factory urbex

Today, the VEB Spezialmaschinenfabrik is anything but empty.

Dozens of artists bustle around -painting, building, welding, and experimenting- and more are yet to come.

ibug festival 2017 ibug festival 2017 ibug festival 2017

ibug festival 2017

After a lot of roaming around and a bit of arguing, now everyone has found their own spot, that specific wall that “talks to them” -quoting Wartin Paintois– and to them only.

ibug festival 2017

ibug festival 2017

ibug festival 2017

ibug festival 2017

The whale came back to life.

Its rusty skeleton vibrates, hit by hammers and drills.

Royal TS ibug festival 2017

Royal TS at work

ibug 2017 artists at work royal ts

Royal TS at work

As a snake shedding its old skin, the mouldy walls were peeled and now a more colourful skin is growing over them.

Even the air is more substantial -a thick mix of spray-paint, solvent, acrylics and dust.

ibug 2017 artists at work kritzelfreu

Kritzelfreu at work

Now, every time I walk past a room, I can spot something new, witnessing this organic mutation that spontaneously comes from the whale’s bowels.

ibug 2017 artists at work vesuv

Vesuv at work

Although everyone is working on their corner, they are all working at the same thing –and I’m sure the final effect will be more impressive than the sum of its parts.

ibug 2017 artists at work hifi


artists at work ibug 2017 funky monkey

Funky Monkey

Staff members walk through the big, empty rooms saying sci-fi things such as “here there will be the beer garden” or “this is where the art market will take place”. They are so convincing that we all already call these dusty-and-rusty caterpillars with the names of the future butterflies.

ibug 2017

The Bar

ibug 2017

The Beer Garden

There is music, a lot of different music. Even though there is a preeminence of hip-hop and punk-rock, there is also someone painting on classical music or melodic piano songs.

ibug 2017

There is energy, a sparkling vibe connecting all rooms.

From time to time, every artist will leave their wall and go check on what the others are doing. Some of them already know each other: there is an artists’ hard core that takes part in every edition of the festival. However, every few handshakes one is meant as an introduction.

ibug festival 2017

Goodmorning from the abandoned factory! It’s breakfast time :)

ibug festival 2017

Sunday morning doodling

The artists already at work are so many that I haven’t spoken with everybody yet.

I chatted with the Italian Luca Di Maggio, who is painting one of his iconic cyclists at the entrance of the factory. He promised me we will have a day-trip to Halles, a German city nearby where he lived and painted for three years, so stay tuned to read more about him!

LUCA DI MAGGIO ibug 2017 LUCA DI MAGGIO ibug 2017

I followed Kenneth Letsoin (a.k.a. naamlooozz) around the abandoned factory while he was looking for dismissed objects to build his installation. He is recreating his first impression of Chemnitz, a “city of abandoned buildings one next to the other”.


I met Billy Colours, an English artist based in Berlin. She is painting the outside wall of the factory in her iconic, very colourful style, while talking about van-life and all the amazing trips she had.


I spoke with Lauri –one guy outta the Tape Over crew– about media and how people became unable to just live their own lives, since they are glued to their smartphones either to live-stream what they are doing or to look at what other people are doing -and feel miserable as a result. He also told me about how difficult it was for him to find a proper wall on which his tape would stick, as here all the walls are wet and crumbling.

ibug 2017 artists at work tape over

And I found out that Wasp Elder is the organizer of that amazing street art festival in Cardiff I wrote about last year, as well as the author of my favourite murals in Cardiff, which he signed as Colour Doomed.

From that moment, I’ve kept peeking into his room, as I’m curious to see his post-Colour-Doomed style, which –quoting him- is “more realistic and coherent with what he paints on canvas”.

WASP ELDER ibug 2017

He picked a very nice room, where each wall has its own character. A room that gives you the feeling of entering a defined space, which is totally different from the rest of the factory. His room is cozy, quiet and pervaded by a peculiar vibe. He keeps it neat, with all his brushes lined on the protective ground cloth that he had lied down on the floor.

WASP ELDER ibug 2017

He waters the wall before painting it, so that it will look like a fresco (he actually does it because he is used to working with oils rather than acrylics, but still what he is getting is the frescoed effect: the impression that the wall is taking his art in).

Then, he slowly moves his brush on the wall as if he were caressing it, following the stroke with his gaze. He focuses on one square at the time, totally absorbed in his drawing but –at the same time- relaxed.

WASP ELDER ibug 2017

I like how his piece is developing, especially the vivid contrast between his black, white and greys and the red of the bricks of the holes in the wall. It somehow makes the wall alive, like throbbing flesh under the skin.

…and this is just because, yesterday night, he asked me how ‘comprehensive’ my articles would be ;) 


Blocal Blog is media partner of IBUG 2017

Every day I upload new photos to my IBUG 2017 album on Facebook: check it out!

And follow me on Instagram for more photos and live stories from the abandoned factory!


Website: http://www.ibug-art.de

25th to 27th of August & 1st to 3rd of September

SPEMAFA – former VEB Spezialmaschinenfabrik

Lerchenstraße 12, 09111 Chemnitz

Opening hours: Fridays from 3 pm, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am

Admission: 7 Euro per day, 5 Euro reduced price

Festival ticket for the whole weekend: 10 Euro





You may also like