This is the entrance to the stage workshop of Volksbühne in Weissensee. ⠀
Volksbühne – so many memories are connected with it. ⠀
The fist time I was there was for the concert of the back then new band Tocotronic in August 1996. I didn’t live in Berlin and the internet as we know it now didn’t exist yet, so we just tried naively to get rest-tickets. Luckily it worked out and I didn’t have a reason to complain like the title of their back then just released album «Wir Kommen Um Uns Zu Beschweren» said it.
Many evenings to be remembered followed there. Also some sleep is envolved here, that comes with theatre productions lasting five hours or more. But over the years I got trained. How good the training was will be tested when I will hopefully get to see the latest staging of «Faust» by Frank Castorf which I was told goes at least for 8 if not for 10 hours even. ⠀
I will deeply miss the challenges the Volkbühne put me in – if the rumours of the announced changes will really become true. ⠀
In January I called them, because I had to cancel a ticket. The music they played while I was on hold was the word «Danke», sung by the choir of Volksbühne in a version of a German Christian hymn written by Martin Gotthard Schneider and one of the first songs in the genre later called new spiritual song. With the lines missing the message it seems to say: «Thanks for nothing!» – and rightly so, because we have to say thank you! ⠀
DANKE, VOLKSBÜHNE! • ⠀
Claudia Sarnthein’s presentation «Von Alters her/ From the Old» at the recent group show at Künstlerhaus Bethanien is a mix of elements from the vernacular, pagan and the christian culture – which also includes ceramics. This technique is more and more trending over the last years not only in the art world and by integreting this material into her artworks Sarntheim includes the arts and craft movement as reference, but her appropriation is not restricted to it. ⠀
Or to quote art-historian Mark Gibourne: «The artist’s […] ceramic-based works redress issues of a once denigrating attitude towards pattern and decoration. […] The handwork and craft of making is linked by Sarntheim to a myth and metaphor often associated with the domestic space.» ⠀
One visitor instead interpreted the ceramic bowl as quite usefull plain object by placing a potato into it which is part of the artwork «For the winners the potatoes» by Matheus Rocha Pitta installed in the other room and has some satellites at the metro-stations Hermannplatz and Gesundbrunnen even. Visitors are invited to take away some of the potatoes from the installation which Rocha Pitta interprets as symbolic trophies.
By putting the potato of KfW Stiftung supported Rocha Pitta in the bowl the visitor maybe wanted to deliver the statement that Sarntheim’s artworks are at least his or her personal winner of this exhibition – or «L’étoile» like the name of the pictured artwork. • ⠀
«Radula» from Stockholm played an exclusive set to celebrate the release of their first single «Scarlett/ Serious» in Berlin’s formerly squatted club «Ausland» in Prenzlauer Berg – how cute is that?
The queer post rock-independent-guitar-band mixes drive with a shoegaze approach and adds some improvised psychedelic roughness and thus forms a warm and glowing sound which spreads togetherness. ⠀
The project of the three talented women is very promising, however their career in this formation is as yet short – and so is this text. But all the three of them have already appearances in the music scene via other constellations: Hillevi Duus on drums is also a member of «Hunt and Growth», Tove Möller on electric guitar plays in «To All My Friends» and Ella Blixt on bass guitar is part of the bands «It’s A Musical», «Nikita» and «Bobby and Blumm». Wow – that’s what I call a supergroup! ⠀
Support «Radula» by buying their single released by «Lazy Octopus» and their next releases hopefully soon to come, so that they will play in Berlin soon again and therefore reappear in your feeds. • ⠀
Apples. To be exact: A pair of apples, caught in a close encounter by the artist George Condo (*1957) are exhibited in the artist’s solo-exhibition «Confrontation» at Museum Berggruen, which got extended until 1st of May 2017.
The title refers to the installment of his works into a selection of classic modernist art by Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse, Klee und Giacometti, because the artist prefers that description over the word dialogue which seems to harmonic to him. ⠀⠀
But his art and the classic art goes together very well indeed – as these apples do. The painting from 2009 is called «His Brain» and I wonder if it is intended to show the apples as symbols for the brain as an organ divided into two connected parts or if these painted apples are mere objects of thoughts on the artist’s mind. ⠀⠀
Another question is in which way the process of transforming apples into classic objects of still lifes and therefore theoretical concepts or ideas is always unavoidably connected through a kind of dialogue with art history. For example with its heavy brushstrokes this painting brings Cézanne’s famous still lifes to mind.
But I guess it’s also ok if the voluptuous presentation makes you think of Adam and Eve and the representation of desires, also sexually driven ones, – or to see the artwork as an illustration for the word «foodporn». •
After the archeological research about Marcel Duchamp exhibition space 8. Salon in Hamburg presents another retrospective about one of the household names in the art world of the 20th century: Martin Kippenberger (1953 – 1997). ⠀
Thankfully we have this independent gallery to remember the 20th anniversary of the artist’s death, because official institutions seem to have just ignored it. ⠀
Under the title «20 Jahre später – Martin Kippenberger: Immer noch Einer von uns, unter uns, für uns» curator and author Roberto Ohrt has reenacted an installation he had conceived together with the artist for his solo exhibition «Candidature à une rétrospective» at Centre Georges Pompidou Paris in 1993. ⠀
Back then photographer Andrea Stappert has documented the 16 metre long glass cabinet which formed the center of the exhibition. Those pictures are printed in big scale now and combined with a part of the originally shown objects: In Paris all the books Martin Kippenberger had produced were shown together with inspirational and achetypical books and their counterpoints. ⠀
Along this massive reconstructive work posters, invitation cards and catalogues are on display. As all these materials were never ephemeral for Martin Kippenberger, he put the same effort into them as he did into his works indeed. ⠀
As the art of this «exhibitionist» par excellence is exemplarily intertwined with his life, his main artworks are intimately interwoven with their promotion. Unfortunately it was not granted to Martin Kippenberger and us to see how an effervescent personality like him would appear in the social media networks of today. ⠀
But I’m quite sure he would be «one among us, one for us». •
With Daiga Grantina (*1985) Kunstverein in Hamburg kicks off its new series of exhibitions called «Best & Boldest» started by its director Bettina Steinbrügge. These are supposed to feature a variety of young artists who «have one thing in common: the multifaceted engagement with questions of our reality» as the self description puts it. ⠀
In her first major solo exhibition in Germany the artist from Latvia who lives in Paris presents sculptures which not only mesh the entitiy of reality represented through materiality, but which radiate a sensitivity for shapes and forms – which can be occasionally quite disturbing for the visitor. ⠀
This exhibition brings to mind the group show called «Formalism – Modern Art, today» curated by Yilmaz Dziewior shown in the year 2004 at the 200-year old institution. This show questioned the role of purely aesthetic considerations within the context of the conceptual, socially relevant art of today. ⠀
Or applied to the artworks from Grantina’s current series of works, the so-called «Buffs»: Where could be the alliance into the sphere of current theoretical and social discourse in order to liberate Grantina’s erratic creations from just individual mythologies? And the information given proves that there is quite a bunch of references of that kind: The painting «The Mountain» (1936-37) by the French artist Balthus, the manufacturing process of US-american soft candy «Salt Water Taffy» and a narrative audio guide by author Mary Rinebold Copeland. ⠀
With all these quotations the question is yet to answer how the «our» in «our reality« of the description of the new series of exhibitions is eventually defined by the artist. Or in other words: If the quoted «reality» hasn’t already drifted into mere «fantasy» here – which would also comment concisely on contemporary concerns. •
The magazine «Kultur & Gespenster» from Hamburg is not only deeply rooted in the tradition of the «Hamburger Schule» of art history and cultural studies of Warburg, Cassierer and Panofsky, but proves that it’s also firm with the frenzies of today: It puts burning «New Balance» shoes on the cover of their latest issue called «no balance» which deals with health and illness. ⠀
Also mental illnesses are refered to here, as the shoes of the brand «New Balance» were burned world-wide by their customers when the company declared that it looked forward to the back then upcoming presidency of Donald Trump. ⠀
Founded in summer 2006 with an inaugrational issue about the notorious author Hubert Fichte from Hamburg, the magazine has strived through the cultural fields of «Reality», «Autofiction», «Frauds», «Hermeneutic», but also «Drugs», «Fairytales», «Radio», «Things» and other highly interesting debates. ⠀
The dream team behind the magazine (who is literally pictured behind the magazine in this photo from the release party for the latest issue) are Nora Sdun – also part of Galerie Dorothea Schlüter which has no permanent space at the moment – and Gustav Mechlenburg – self description: «artist without work» – who are both founders of their own publishing house «Textem Verlag». They have just moved into a new space next to restaurant Jimmy Elsass in Hamburg’s Schanzenviertel, where they prepare their next releases, appearances at book fairs and the upcoming celebratory 20th issue of «Kultur & Gespenster». ⠀
All the issues are designed by Christoph Steinegger who is an expert on art direction for art catalogues and artist books, but also typographically cutting edge designed literature. ⠀
All together they form an equally adjusted team – who will surely never define the meaning of «balanced» as a state of mind close to «boring» or «petty». •
«§ 1 Der Zweck des Kunstvereins ist die mehrteilige Mittheilung über bildende Kunst.» ⠀
That’s the beginning of the constitution of the Kunstverein in Hamburg which was founded in 1817 in the house of the leed-roofer David Christopher Mettlerkamp. ⠀
In 1826 the member based art society opened an independent space for the support and promotion of contemporary arts in which they often presented later famous artists like Caspar David Friedrich, Philipp Otto Runge, Adolph Menzel and Arnold Böcklin with their first exhibitions ever. ⠀
To celebrate the 200th anniversary director Bettina Steinbrügge and curator Corina Koch set up the exhibition «The History Show» for which they invited several artists to work with the archives of the Kunstverein, which is the oldest cultural institution of Hamburg and an extraordinary example for civil engagement. ⠀
In this unusual retrospective these selected artists try to reflect the history of the institution also in a critical way and to question its influence on the present and the future instead of freezing its past as rigid archives. Citizens & bourgoisie, landscape & homeland, religion, identities and other historical strings and also institutional critique are some of the topics referred to in the artworks which have been created especially for the show. ⠀
Here we see a quote by Tino Sehgal (*1976), who was presented in the Kunstverein in Hamburg ten years ago with his impressive and touching performance «What is progress?» and who is also part of this current show. It fits one way or another – not only for the art community, its societies and scenes: ⠀
«I think the 20th century was the century of individualism and philosophies of solutide, and I hope that in the 21st century we can kind of adjust that a little bit.» ⠀
Let’s keep our fingers crossed. •
UVE art collection (United Virtual Exhibited art collection) started a series of exhibitions under the slogan «sharing is the new buying» at Funkhaus Nalepastrasse. The first groupshow «The Surface of Shrimp – The Gesture of Soap» was curated by Zoë Claire Miller.
On the photo: «With One’s Teeth Bared (Surface Glaze)» by Lotte Meret Effinger (left) and «Let’s go (we have no past)» by Felix Oehmann (right).
UVE art collection claims to be a new movement even – the trendy catchword «disruptive» is in the air and in their press release several times. The «Sharing Economy» isn’t critized for its capitalism overdrive here, but the organizers are very optimistic and see the potential of the new economic structures. The project is frankly supposed to please the decision makers within the «dynamic startup community» and seeks to curate art collections suiting corporate identities.
But no wonder: What looks at first sight like a self-organized uncommerical exhibition with a bunch of young and upcoming artists at a not so usual place – a typical signature for Berlin’s art scence since at least way back in the 90ies – is indeed organized by a Danish business consultancy.
The so-called «Cultural Entrepreneurship» is stressed under proposition of the already mentioned «Sharing Economy» with an unpredictable future for position of the already striving artist within the artmarket and in general. I wouldn’t wonder if the economic leaders behind commercial events like this would see themselves as artists even.
Maybe I’m just nostalgic or too negative for this kind of «disruptive» direction the marketing of the Berlin artworld is heading to, which is definitely not ment as offence for all struggling local artists and curators involved here providing excellent works – maybe too good for that context. •
Ayami Awazuhara and Christopher Burman presented their audio piece ment to be heard by groups of two or four called «Conversation Piece» at «Bob’s Pogo Bar» of Kunstwerke Berlin. ⠀
Actually it stops conversation trough spoken words between the listeners grouped around a table, but it activates the instincts to observe the body language of each participant. ⠀
The audio piece tells the story of a woman talking on the phone while the driver listens to «Killing Me Softly» in the version of The Fugees from 1996. But soon the station changes to one with motivational empowerment messages. It praises technology and wants the listener to «imagine a lifetime of work lifting from your shoulders». ⠀
In between the voice aims directly through all the levels of storytelling by engaging the listeners to hold a cup with a special drink they were given before in a certain way or sipping from it. That’s the point when the group’s dynamics and at the same time control sets in. ⠀
The motivational messages also claim that «language is a human tool and will always be in the hands of humans» – the later has still to be proved and is tried to be denied by latest scientific researches.
Christopher Burman was the guitarist of the band «Spector» and has since then experimented with applying sounds to images. ⠀
Ayami Awazuhara from Japan, whose work could be seen at the group show «Analogy between Bulbs and Buds» last year 2016 at Botanischer Volkspark Blankenfelde-Pankow, lives in Germany since 2008 and studied at UdK in the class of Manfred Pernice. ⠀
Her artworks mix human sciences, sociology and urbanity, question the ways of cultural storytelling and try to focus on new narratives. It fits therefore perfectly that she is also the author of several artist books focusing on cultural signs which can be seen as «part anecdote, part fiction and part sculpture». •
Stage of «Judith» directed by Frank Castorf at Volksbühne designed by Bert Neumann and Caroline Rössle Harper. ⠀
With Birgit Minichmayr, Martin Wuttke, Jasna Fritzi Bauer, Mex Schlüpfer and Stefan Kolosko ⠀
and many more. ⠀
Go and see it – they play it only one more time! ⠀
Bring earplugs if you sit in the front and are sensitive. ⠀
Read extensive reviews elsewhere… •