Reviews on art & culture in Berlin & Germany in pictures & words | February 2017
Finally I made it into the exhibition of Norwegian artist Hanne Lippard at KW Berlin called «Flesh», which was run over at the opening weekend and which is set in an attic style space reachable though a spiral staircase located in the center hall. In this environment paved with flesh-coloured carpet banal phrases and self help techniques are bent together by Hanne Lippard to form an acoustic artwork which fills the empty environment with an extra low ceiling in which it is set. Putting words, homonyms and homophones on top of each other she piles up a wall of sound to break through for the visitor. We become the listener to a surrealistic piece which preaches peace and peaks in appeasement, while we stare out of the windows to gaze over the roofs into the lives of the others. «If not now then when?» •
Greetings from «alien matter», the exhibition curated by Inke Arns for the 30th anniversary issue of Berlin’s new media festival «Transmediale». It tries to research about a matter which is man-made and on top of that potentially intelligent — and which therefore is able to form objects that become autonomous agents. Artificial intelligence, plastics, infrastructure and the Internet of Things are the keywords here. Allthough the exhibition collects just artworks from the last years it gives a quite distinct overview on the strategies used by digital media artists concerning objects, interactivity, media devices and plural narratives.
Here I am inside the artwork «Video Palace #44 — The Hidden Universe, 2017» by Joep van Liefland. On the outside he put together 20.000 VHS tapes and inside it’s pure light. The leaflet calls it «a dark bachelor machine» — God knows why they cite of all things this reference to Marcel Duchamp here. •
I remember one poem of my former art teacher which had a line like this: «If you think you have teachers only at school — wait until school’s over and you’ll start to discover how many teachers you really have.» Christian Bernhardt’s book «JANA JANA JANA» released by Textem Verlag is a collection of short stories in which eight different women called Jana in her mid-twenties reflect on their first day in school: Riots, love, boundaries and identities. The eight stories form a varied selection about a powerful passage in childhood and deal foremost with all the pressure that this period brings with it and which is represented by the system of school education.
Through the variation of one clearly defined theme which includes the start of literacy in life Bernhardt makes this book appear like a collection of excercises and tests — similar to those that the girls in the stories have to deal with. The difference is that he’s not a newbie to the literary scene, as he was invited to the Ingeborg-Bachmann-Wettbewerb in Klagenfurth besides many other appearances.
But there’s at least one other overlap of concepts: Isn’t every artistic release formed somehow under pressure and represents a special kind of test? •
The independent exhibition space Salon 8 in Hamburg St. Pauli organized the exhibition «Remis am Jungfernstieg» as hommage to Marcel Duchamp. It was curated by Bastiaan van der Velden, Ursula Panhans-Bühler, Axel Heil and Roberto Ohrt of whom each is an expert on Duchamp in their own right. They presented printed editions by Marcel Duchamp, ephemera and some ready-made readymades.
In 1917 he made his well-known piece «Fountain» which is a normal pissoir turned for 90 degrees and laid on its back. It was invented for the exhibition of the «Society of Independent Artists» in New York, which wanted to be open for everybody — but it wasn’t exhibited, because the members of the society rejected it. It caused some scandal among them because of its own unusual concept of using ready-made objects in art. On top of that it proved that this wasn’t an uncensored show as it claimed to be. Through his clever move Marcel Duchamp managed to make the artwork which everybody talked about, but wasn’t even shown in the exhibition.
Marcel Duchamp signed the pissior with the pseudonym «R. Mutt» which is a reference to the company J. L. Mott Iron Works from New York City. As hommage to his masterpiece the curators presented this classic tap from J. L. Mott in the exhibition — and turned it for some degrees like he did, but left it unsigned. •
The Julia Stoschek Collection based in Düsseldorf celebrates its 10th anniversary this year in June whereas the dependance in Berlin opened its second exhibition under the title «Jaguars And Electric Eels» in February which will be on display until end of November.
Similiar to the exhibition of Transmediale the artworks discribe a world, in which the boundaries between «nature» and «artificialness» are blured and twisted or in their words where «an alternative interpretation of anthropology and zoology» is presented. ⠀⠀⠀
Here we see the single-channel video installation «Good Boy» by Aaron Young from the year 2001, in which a pit bull terrier is biting into a ball hanging from a rope. The dog’s will to catch the prey is too strong to just let go and proves his pure mental and physical strength. He could leave the game, but it’s his instinct or decision which tells him to stay.
It seems like a metaphore for survival in an accelerating economic world, which relies on the selfexploitation of each of its participants and their very behavior turns out to be the other side of self-expression and the hunt for compliments. ⠀⠀⠀
Or maybe the artwork is just a comment about the struggle of an artist in an art world under the darwinist principle of «sink or swim». •
This is the object «Man Made» from the year 2014 by Ami Drach (1963–2012) & Dov Ganchrow as presented in the exhibition «alien matter» at HKW Berlin as part of Transmediale 2017. ⠀
It is derived from an idea of the «The 3D Additivist Cookbook» by Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke which is inspired by William Powell’s Anarchist Cookbook from 1969. The artwork aims to unite theory and practice of 3D-printing to multiply its revolutionary potential beyond maker-culture and D.I.Y. ⠀
The shown axe is intended to be a contemporary adaptation of a prehistoric hand axe and it raises questions where forms generally come from: From the methods of their production or from the will to form which is inspired by the zeitgeist? ⠀
However — let’s just paraphrase Anna Wintour: Sometimes geekness can be chic! •
Salon 8 in Hamburg St. Pauli organized an exhibition as hommage to Marcel Duchamp by the curators Bastiaan van der Velden, Ursula Panhans-Bühler, Axel Heil and Roberto Ohrt. ⠀
Their research on Marcel Duchamp shows that he was well aware with the memes of his time, for example the caricatures about the Mona Lisa, which got stolen from the Louvre in 1911. A lot of people even went to see the empty space in the Louvre where she hang. She appeared two years later in Italy and went on tour to Florence, Rome and Milan before being installed again in the Louvre. ⠀
All of this frenzy was the basis for a lot of jokes and cartoons in newspapers and other publications as you can see in this illustration in a book from that time. As Marcel Duchamp himself worked as caricaturist maybe the meme of his time gave later inspiration for his work «L.H.O.O.Q.» from the year 1919. ⠀
And wasn’t the full title of his work «The Large Glass» also «La Mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même»? 😉 • ⠀
2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the exhibition «Interbau 57» which brought international architecture to Berlin’s Hansaviertel and aimed to close the gaps of the city left by WWII. 53 international architects from 13 countries realized projects, among them also Hugh Stubbins and his congress-hall in Berlin-Tiergarten commissioned by the Benjamin Franklin Foundation. ⠀
Stubbins was Gropius’s assistant at Harvard and created a landmark for Berlin that could be also be seen from East-Berlin.⠀
In the beginning the gift of the building was ment to strengthen the German-American political ties, but with Haus der Kulturen der Welt HKW moving into it end of 1980ies, it opened up to a multi-cultural focus. Globalization and the challenges which come with it are represented in the program of HKW along with techo-political and geo-ecological programs. ⠀
Here we see the two «wings» of the rooftop meeting on one of the terraces. The stars of the building are highlighted and shown in an intimate encounter open to the visitor — here highlighted during the days of Berlinale which has some films shown there. ⠀
BTW: In the vernacular the building is called «Schwangere Auster» — pregnant oyster, which could also refer to the intellectual and artistic ideas born from there. •
One last image from the exhibition about Marcel Duchamp in Hamburg. He was a chess master and even took part in several inofficial and official Chess Olympiads — which led him also to Hamburg in 1930. ⠀
That’s what the name of the exibition «Remis am Jungfernstieg» at Salon 8 in Hamburg refers to. In 1925 he designed the poster for the Third French Chess Championship, he wrote chess columns for newspapers and also a book about chess together with Vitali Halberstadt, an author focused on chess problems, called «Opposition and Sister Squares Reconciled». ⠀
It is said that his passion for chess stressed his first wife and that she once glued the chess figures to his board. In 1952 he said: «I am still a victim of chess. It has all the beauty of art — and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in its social position.» ⠀
And from the tournament in Hamburg 1930 he wrote on a postcard to his wife: «Not a minute to write you at length. Bad tournament beautiful city.» •
Here we go again with Marcel Duchamp, this time his «Rotoreliefs» being blown up in size and transformed into an installation by John Bock called «HalluzinationsFusion» from the year 2012. It is exhibited since this week in his solo show at Berlinische Galerie called «In The Moloch Of The Presence Of Being» which lasts throughout August 2017. ⠀
Besides his sculptures made of chintzy material he includes video and performances in his work — also in this setting shown here a performance took place. ⠀
Over the last years he works more and more with other participants and his way of working tends towards film in order to extend his live performances and to be more precise through techniques like cutting, time-leaps and close-ups. For the Berlin show he directed the film «Hell’s Bells» which is screened at Berlinische Galerie in March. Amongst its cast are Lars Eidinger and Bibiana Beglau and it cites the genre of western films. ⠀
His last big solo exhibition in Berlin was «FischGrätenMelkStand» in 2010 at the Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin at Schloßplatz, where the city castle is now being rebuilt. John Bock’s exhibition was the closing event of this institution which existed only from 2008 to 2010. Also his former gallery Klosterfelde closed in 2013 after over one and a half decades, but luckily John Bock has Sprüth Magers now to work with and found other institutions to present his excuberant and vital works of art. •
Some frames are bigger than others — for example the one chosen here for this painting «Rowboats» by Claude Monet (1840–1926) from 1869. It’s shown in the exibition «Impressionism: The Art of Landscape» at Museum Barberini in Potsdam. ⠀
He created a group of artworks at La Grenouillère, a popular middle-class resort and travel destination for Parisians at that time. It is located on the Seine and easily accessible by train from Paris. It was a popular place of excursions, also because it had just been favoured with a visit by Emperor Napoleon III with his wife and son.
I wonder if Monet intended it to be presented in that at least classic if not bourgoise way, given that he and the other impressionist painters were modernist in their way of choosing and percieving motifs and weren’t yet respected the way they get treated — and traded — they way they are now. Indeed he was desperately poor at that time. That’s why Monet recognized in La Grenouillère an ideal subject for the images of leisure he hoped to sell — and on the long run the plan worked out and it «monet»ized. •
© 2017 Norbert Bayer | All rights reserved.