Christoph “radicality” Schlingensief

When the young lady at the press conference asked Klaus Biesenbach to “say something” about Christoph Schlingensief’s radicality, a giggle went through the room. Asking this is like asking to comment on Christoph Schlingensief himself. He was radical all through. And much too complex to be explained in one sentence.

But this young lady had of course, in a way, nailed it: Radicality is really the word that keeps coming back to your mind when walking through the exhibition that opens today at KW - Institute for Contemporary Art, curated by Biesenbach, Anna-Catharina Gebbers, Susanne Pfeffer and Aino Laberenz. Who but Schlingensief would do a “Hitler Stalin Porn”? 

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Or who would make you go through a stair lift procedure, only to discover one of his provocative little videos behind a curtain?

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And who else would make people sit on stakes for hours to make them profess their fears?

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A lot has been said about this incredibly diverse artist, film maker, opera director, and his oeuvre. But maybe not enough of it has been seen. We advise you to plan a whole day for your visit of this show. It contains innumerable videos, films and complex installations that deserve a bit of our attention. Their influence cannot be underestimated.

There is something else you can do to help Schlingensief’s legacy to live on: Donate for his Opera Village Africa. Help this unique project to survive. We certainly did.

http://www.operndorf-afrika.de/index.php/spenden.html

http://blog.operndorf-afrika.de/ 

http://www.betterplace.org/de/projects/14952

TANAS: More questions than answers

Walking up Heidestraße, around the corner from Hamburger Bahnhof, it’s hard to believe that this street used to be one of Berlin’s gallery hotspots. The area is currently under redevelopment and feels more like no-man’s-land than ever -  rows of car garages on one side, construction sites on the other. Even Tanas' staircase in the industrial backyard is pitch-black, but for the glow of a neon sign in arabic.

The sign - a work by Mario Rizzi - reads Ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ an-niẓām (‘The people demand of the fall of the regime’), a slogan that first emerged during the Tunisian revolution and became closely associated with the Arab Spring. This political undertone characterizes many of the artworks on display in the current show, The Unanswered Question, Iskele 2, including Olaf Metzel's large, hand-folded aluminum sheets.

Olaf Metzel, ‘Taksim’, 2013

Printed with press photographs of protests in Turkey, it is as if the artist had rescued the pages of a crumpled newspaper and given them permanent life inside the gallery. Born and raised in Kreuzberg, Metzel is interested in the way Turkish newspapers in Berlin reported on the events in Istanbul. As the artist explains, ‘Parallel societies here in Germany are evident not just in the language’. 

Although Tanas describes itself as Berlin’s centre for Turkish art (Tanas is an anagram of the Turkish word for art, ‘sanat’), the current exhibition incorporates artists from many regions, including the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East and Germany. For those who missed Annika Kahrs’ Playing to the Birds at abc,here is your chance to catch another glimpse of the German artist’s beautiful video installation. 

Using the same medium as Kahrs but striking a much darker note, Adel Abidin's 1 + 2. Ping Pong consists of two players competing in a heated match of table tennis. Instead of a net, a naked woman lies in the middle of the table. As the ball flies back and forth the players are oblivious to the woman’s pain and we as viewers are torn between the thrill of the match and our repulsion at this aggression on the human body. Perhaps this can be seen as an allusion to the suffering of women caught in the crossfire of men’s power struggle?

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Video Still, Adel Abidin, ‘1 + 2. Ping Pong’, 2009

This, and many other ‘unanswered questions’, are what make Iskele2 one of the most engaging shows of the season. But hurry: the exhibition runs until Sunday, Nov. 3rd, after which Tanas will be permanently closed, as its curator Rene Block moves on to other projects and ventures. 

Tanas, Heidestraße 50, 10557 Berlin, Tues to Sun 12-6pm

Field Trip

Yes, it’s Berlin Art Week, and yes, there’s plenty to see. But there is one little thing, right in the heart of Berlin, which makes you escape from all that bustle. On your way to Auguststrasse you can easily drop by Torstrasse 111.

Step through the big old door into the courtyard, where this Saturday The Bakery takes place. At this performance-like project by Egill Saebjörnsson, curated by Annabelle von Girsewald, Berlin based artists broach the issue of food by producing bread. The Bakery is a process-orientated project which will find its end in a “café exhibition” in 2014, which shouldn’t be missed, since there will be cake.

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Despite this familial happening in the courtyard, one can discover the surrounded group of buildings, where the resident artists exhibit their works. This group-show, which can be visited till Sunday, brings together most different themes.

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Ausstellungsansicht Tarantula Tentacle

In the first room, Diego Fernandez and Thilonius Staudt present a wide range of their paintings, comic-like impressions of contemporary urban life.

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Still: Ulu Brau, Forst, 2013

Ulu Brauns Forst, screened in the ruin in the back of the courtyard, reflects a modern approach to nature in contrast to an ancient mythic appreciation. The narrative collage-video opposes different situations, contrasting yet enhancing each other. 

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Ausstellungsansicht Tarantula Tentacle

The initiator of Torstrasse 111, Ingo Fröhlich, exhibits in another room of the ruin. His abstract chalk-circles on schist lie on the floor and perfectly fit in these rooms, with the old dirty ceiling and white walls.

Back in the courtyard there is nothing else to do then soak in the calm atmosphere and enjoy the native garden before you get back to Torstrasse and Berlin’s busiest week.

Opening hours Tarantula Tentacle: Sat 3pm - 10pm, Sun 3pm - 10pm.

Pictures: All Courtesy Ulu Braun

High Flyer at abc

Conceptual yet unpretentious, clear yet fun: Annika Kahrs and Kasia Fudakowski are among our favorite contributors to abc. By the way, we’re delighted to see how many young promising female artists are participating this year! But back to our favorites:

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Annika Kahrs,Playing to the Birds, 2013, HD-Film, 14 min Courtesy the artist &  Produzentengalerie, Hamburg

Annika Kahrs’ works address the impact of irritations on the perception of situations. Some might have experienced her performance piece in KW’s show “One on One” lately. It consisted of two piano players pausing their play as soon as you entered the room. At abc, Produzentengalerie presents Kahrs’ video Playing to the Birds, 2013 – a video on the construction of communication and perception. It documents a pianist playing Franz Liszt’s Legende # 1, a solo piece full of twitter-like trills. It is based on the legend of St. Francis of Assisi preaching to and being understood by birds. Now, the pianist’s audience consists of cage birds. The viewer thus observes birds listening to a piano play, based on the »translation« of their communication into a score. Captive in a highly artificial environment exposed to unnatural communication, they have nothing in common with the wild protagonists the saint patron of animals communicated with.

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Detail: Annika Kahrs, Playing to the Birds

Kasia Fudakowski is a story-teller, too. She has this amazing sense for the absurd in real life. She often creates delicate, odd, amorphous objects, often combines steel with diverse materials such as clay and fabric. In one way or the other, her sculptures always refer to something identifiable - no matter how abstract they are. Fudakowskis objects populate the exhibition space like the protagonists of sketches. Some are kinetic, some can be props for performances, too. But then, one single, static sculpture can be as strong as to re-write the context of its surrounding. Fudakowski creates the most unlikely links between objects – and it works: she brings out the absurd in what we thought we were familiar with. We can’t wait to get her intriguing glass balloon sound piece at hand and see Fudakowski perform – every day!

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Kasia Fudakowski, I am really enjoying this, 2013, glass balloon, mp3 player, headphone, Courtesy the artist & Chert, Berlin 

What’s the link between Kahrs’ cage birds and Fudakowski’s glass balloons, you’re asking yourself? Both will surely fly high at this year’s abc.

Watch out for Fudakowski’s daily perfomance Pessimistinnen.

Not just about the money: Collaborations between galleries at this year’s abc

Sure, a partner can come in handy when you have to pay a four-digit fee for participating at abc. But then, of course, the collaboration between two or even three galleries can turn into a thought-provoking creative progress, that makes one plus one add up to much more than two.

We spoke to gallerist Heike Tosun (Soy Capitán, Berlin), who is collaborating with Galerie für Landschaftskunst (GFLK) to present a new installation by Klara Hobza. GFLK is an unusual gallery slash project space in Hamburg. It was co-founded by artist Till Krause in 1992, and has been promoting and featuring artists with a strong interest in interventions outdoors, in the public sphere, ever since. GFLK is also where Tosun first became aware of Klara Hobza in 2009. Hobza had relocated all her artworks from her studio in New York via raft, kayak and freight container to Hamburg, to exhibit them on the dismantled raft in Till Krause’s space (Departing America, 2009). Tosun, who admires this kind of innovative exhibition practice typical for GFLK, was eager to collaborate for abc. »It’s been like forming a temporary collective with Hobza and Krause«, she says. The ideas are circulating and gaining from the three different perspectives: gallery, artist and project space.

We can’t wait to see the result: At this year’s abc, Hobza will surprise us with the outcome of an impossible horserace. More cannot be said yet, but we are sure, with all these thought-provoking ideas flying around, it will be great.

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Official poster for Klara Hobza, The Last Race which took place on the “Land for 5 Final Acts”, 2013

 

What about a little torture on friday 13th?

Be quick, Friday 13th is your last chance to get a first glance at the world’s nearby future – at least its utopian vision as presented by km temporaer . new atlantis brings together fascinating and most different approaches by young artists with amongst others Mexican, Iranian, US-American, and Swiss backgrounds who question present power-relations and their possible future impact.

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Baden Pailthorpe Cadence (2013), HD video, colour, stereo sound, 6 minutes

Oval Office (Mikko Gaestel / Jaakko Pallasvuo) Cooler (2013), Water cooler, water, paracetamol, codeine, dimensions variable

 

Their second-last show in their 170m² apartment – which they had taken over for the last one and a half years – presents the ideas of utopia and the innovations it motivates in the realms of technology, biology and sociology. The curators Elisa R. Linn, Lennart Wolff and Judith Lavagna brought together approaches in the media video, illustration, installation and sculpture. The artworks reflect some present age images on an utopian future like the 45min film Cyborgs in the mist (2011/ 12) by Gwenola Wagon and Stéphane Degoutin, which is one of the works that struck me most. It presents the fictional research lab LOPH, where scientists and researchers test utopian scenarios and their possible impact on mankind. Interviews and sights of Google-Streetview come together to form a pseudo- documentary.

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Antoine Renard, Utopic compost (New Earthlike Samples) (2013),  8 acryglass tubes, variable components, 130 cm x 70 mm each

 

While Wagon and Degoutin present a fictional approach to the question of how they see the future, Antoine Renard shows the actual temporal connection between present and future in his installation Utopic compost (2013). Eight identical acrylic glass tubes stand in the middle of the biggest of the seven rooms. They are enlivened and filled with biological, chemical or industrial products and its diverse states of rotting visualize human impact on nature and vice versa.

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Detail: Antoine Renard Utopic Compost

 

This rather biological approach confronts Anne de Vries’ sculpture Hold on (2012). Web-based information of closer-future events are printed on common towels which are arranged around a towel rack leading upwards, playing with the terms progression and innovation, while showing existing possibilities of technology on banal everyday objects.

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Detail: Anne de Vries, Hold on (2012), Stainless steel, digital print on towel

 

A social notion of utopian scenarios is represented in the “dark room”: Luc Mattenbergers Help for a Revolution (2010) resembles a medical facility to enhance one’s posture, but you can’t avoid a latent association with torture instruments. For the upright position of strength with a raised fist, the user is forced to act in a revolutionary way.

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Luc Mattenberger Help for a revolution (2010), leather and steel

Bettina Pousttchi Starker Staat 2, Starker Staat 10 (2003), photographs, 88 x 110cm

 

Another feeling of heteronomy is created by the two photographs Starker Staat 2 and Starker Staat 10 (2003) by Bettina Pousttchi in the same room. The digitally altered pictures resemble surveillance camera footage and therefore evoke an uneasy feeling of suppression – especially together with Mattenbergers work.

 

The exhibition leaves the visitor with a latent discomfort, nevertheless mindful of their own behavior and environment.

 

PS: km temporaers last show  is in collaboration with Florian Kuhlmann and starts on Sep 20th. 

A show by ff features the theme of future aswell: The Oracle - What is your Prophecy for the Future? opens Sep 12th at 7pm. 

all images: courtesy of km temporaer

by Julia Heldt

art berlin contemporary 1 – the visionaries

This year’s ABC will be “performative” and young. Speaking of young: we’re especially excited about the contributions by Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler gallery presenting Daniel Keller and New Gallery, showing the artist collective DIS. Both galleries are dedicated to building up young artists whose works engage with a contemporary culture in which the internet is a given and who naturally exploit its possibilities –some of them are labelled post-internet artists.

Berlin-based American artist Daniel Keller (* 1986 in Detroit) – also known for founding artist collective AIDS-3D with Nik Kosmas – creates art works that merge artistic practise, technology and social activism to comment on contemporary culture and ecological issues.

His contributions to abc deal with pessimistic prognoses for a culture in which technology replaces manpower, such as Freedom Club Figure (2013): a mannequin wearing the hand-made backpack of technophobic mail bomber Theodore Kaczynski. Keller acquired his accoutrements in an FBI auction. For the installation Soft Staycation (Gaze Track Edit) (2013), Keller filmed a group of unemployed and free-lance expats with a gaze-tracking camera while they’re watching a compilation of national tourism commercials, and presents the video on a flexible LED-curtain.

While Keller stands for multi-layered comments in eccentric materiality, New York based collective DIS is known for their high gloss cynicism. DIS is formed by Lauren Boyle, Solomon Chase, Marco Roso and David Toro. They run DIS magazine, stock photography agency DIS images and participate in exhibitions in institutions like PS1 and New Museum or intervene in exhibitions contexts, such as Art Basel/Miami Beach. In their rather humorous way, DIS embrace popular culture and institutional critique and question consumerism but also the art system by exaggerating their respective aesthetic strategies and argumentation.

The video Emerging Artist (2013) is one of their many commercial-like clips. It shows three pregnant bellies, which purportedly might carry the next genius the art world is waiting for. Photograph Missy with Starbucks (2013) is a disturbing example of the absurd digital stock images provided by DIS images that combine the aseptic aesthetics with improbable motives. And the work Media Companion #ta15 (2013) consists in branded polyester suits that should be worn by guides who accompany visitors on the abc grounds – at least that’s what were expecting.

But then, visionaries like Daniel Keller or DIS are all about the unexpected.

Captions:

Daniel Keller, Freedom Club Figure, 2013, Ted Kacyznski’s backpack purchased from US government online auction, Hans Boodt Mannequin, 180 x 60 x 30 cm

Daniel Keller, Soft Staycation (Gaze Track Edit), 2013, Flexible LED video curtain display, PC, video, dimensions variable

Courtesy the Artist and Kraupa Tuskany Zeidler gallery

DIS, Media Companion #ta15, 2013, Digitally printed Polyester, commercial mannequin, approx. 173 x 38 x 38 cm, Edition of 5 + 1 AP

DIS, Video still from: Emerging Artist, 2013, HD Video, 1:06

Courtesy: the Artist and New Galerie

Be quick : Real Estate Opportunities

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All it takes is a beer – and some patience. Once you give money to the grumpy proprietress of Cafe Warschau on Sonnenallee she lets you sneak behind the bar and into the former basement – now a tiny exhibition space. Business lady that she is, she must have realized that art openings bring people, bring drinks, bring money. So she lends her space for exhibitions without any curatorial aspirations or even judgement of taste. (As you can tell by the documentation on her website). The current show »Real Estate Opportunities« is definitely worth facing grumpy Kristina. 

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Artists become dealers, and dealers become artists

Before selling art many dealers used to do their own art; their sculptures and paintings used to be found in exhibitions. We know that. But we rarely ever see these works – hence the idea of »Buy Art by Artists«. Artist Gregor Hildebrandt curated a show at Martin Kwade’s gallery KWADRAT with art works of famous art dealers.

»Buy Art by Artists« demonstrates that in art business nothing is really set – and presents some beautiful works!

Because of the great demand the exhibition was extended to the 3rd of August, 2013 - so tomorrow is the last day to see the show (from 1pm-7pm). You should not miss out on the finissage

"Buy art by artists" at KWADRAT, curated by Gregor Hildebrandt

with:

J. St. Bernard, Michael Callies, Oliver Croy, Joachim Elzmann, Ben Kaufmann, Andreas Koch, Konrad Lueg, Linn Lühn, Javier Peres, Mihai Pop, Alexander Schröder, Reena Spaulings, Daniela Steinfeld, Tian Yuan

KWADRAT,  Martin Kwade, Adalbertstraße 20, Berlin-Kreuzberg

And the winner is… the Berlin Art Prize award ceremony

We recently went on a little Niche trip to the wonderfully mysterious ruin of the former Iraqi embassy of the GDR in Pankow, a derelict building in socialist modernist style, a real gem for ruin aficionados. Being totally amazed by the fact that this building doesn’t seem to belong to anyone anymore since having been abandoned in 1991, while still bearing lots of Arabic files amidst former office furniture, we were happy to spot a photograph of one of its rooms at the Berlin Art Prize exhibition in the Aqua Carré space last Saturday.

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The ruin plays the lead role in the artwork that won “Best Concept”:

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Sophie-Therese Trenka-Dalton, The Royal Lion Hunt (Iraqi Embassy Berlin-Pankow), 2011

In her large format photograph The Royal Lion Hunt (Iraqi Embassy Berlin-Pankow) from 2011, Sophie-Therese Trenka-Dalton (* 1979) shows the remains of an intervention she did “in situ”: She covered the graffitis on the wall with a wallpaper reproduction of the relief Royal Lion Hunt from Babylon, on view in London’s British Museum. Both, the Iraqi stone relief, and the former Iraqi embassy of the GDR seem out of place now, they are true non-sites. By combining the two artefacts, as pointed out in the jury statement in the beautiful catalogue by Till Wiedeck, Trenka-Dalton raises “complex historical questions through simple means”.

Much more subtle though is the video that won “Best Composition”: 

Cem Kozcuer’s (*1982) Choose, look, obey (2012) is a visual poem of precisely composed slow motion still lifes that extends over 53 minutes. A ping pong racket about to hit a ball. Three bowls being filled with water until they topple.

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Cem Kozcuer, Choose, look, obey, 2012, film still

The jury found the appropriate words: “[It] is simultaneously merciless and sublime, it is asceticism and eye candy” and “a meditation on the question: ‘At which point does one manage to make something worth being looked at?’”. We really like this thoughtful question. With its ultra slow motion pictures, the piece is “hypnotically obsessive, and then subverted in a slapstick manner when a sudden cut catches the eye off guard, a bowl falls off the pedestal or a delayed stroke never hits the ping pong ball”. Well said.

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Jens Nippert, Hand-Faust-Grenze, 2012, Photo: Philipp Külker

The “Jury’s Choice” award is interesting, as it highlights a work that would not have fit into the other two categories, but “spontaneously effected an instinctive attraction on the jury’s part”. The prize went to Jens Nippert (*1970). His sculpture Hand-Faust-Grenze (2012) is made out of such seemingly outdated arte povera materials as hatch and clay along with wood and steel. It is an amorphous piece that vaguely recalls something liminal between the body parts of the title, but then again also nothing at all beyond its anachronistic materiality. It is nice to see that the jury made use of its total independence and honoured such a unique artistic position.

As media partners, we were truly proud when we saw how many people had come to the award ceremony. The truth is, though, that we had just very, very little to do with Berlin Art Prize’s success. The four founders had simply done a really good job at using and expanding their network and getting the right kind of people on board: Those that were full of enthusiasm for a good cause.

We are full of respect for the results of this non-for-profit art buzz and can’t wait to see what will happen next year. 

 

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Don’t miss the show – today, June 29th, is the last day, and it will be open until 10 pm. 

Award ceremony photos by Florian Denzin.