too far west

Two weeks ago we found ourselves in Charlottenburg, where a young crowd, rather bourgeois than hip, had gathered for the opening of new Salon Dahlmann, which claimed its cultural ambitions with the group show »THAT«. The location, a posh Wilhelminian style house in the sometimes shabby part of the West close to Kurfürstendamm, was promisingly absurd and the exhibition/brunch event itself was nice and relaxed, but so were the works of the artists presented: Clear, discrete and – albeit the underlying humour – disturbingly handy. Turned out the exhibits were for sale. 

Not that we didn’t like them. Paula Doepfner’s fragile drawings are beautiful; Pablo Alonso’s canvases interesting. But the ensemble provoked the urgent desire for something edgy, complex or at least conceptual to disturb the idyll of the salon. Thankfully, Benja Sachau provided some relief with his systematically unsystematic works.

It’s not the first time Sachau caught our attention in recent group shows, but in this particular presentation of galleries Thomas Fischer, Anne Schwarz, Tanja Wagner und Heike Tosun the artist definitely stood out: Sachau deploys, amongst other things, drawing machines to create manifestations of entropy. Far from executing the artist’s order, his odd electro-mechanical apparatuses leave hazardous, gesture-like traces and create what appear to be intuitive drawings. Ironically, Kontaktstele, his mysterious drawing apparatus greeting the visitors at the entrance of THAT was the only work not priced…

In short, THAT at Salon Dahlmann was an awkwardly weird commercial event. It felt like the up and coming galleries had compromised by leaving their habitats in Tiergarten and Neukölln to present themselves in this ostensibly philanthropic context. But in its pretentious awkwardness the exhibition brunch turned out to be an entertaining Sunday afternoon activity. The show will be on view again this Sunday. 

Salon Dahlmann, Marburger Straße 3, Berlin-CharlottenburgSunday, 4.3.2012, from 11 am to 6 pm.

Credits: Installation views »That«, Salon Dahlmann, 2012

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