Gallery Weekend Berlin, by Kate Brown, Berlin based correspondent
Berlin is a place of many centers and each borough upholds its own unique architecture and mood, marked by its respective galleries–each of these with their own varying grandeur and artistic angle. Traveling the arrays of different cores for the 10th manifestation of Gallery Weekend Berlin, I kept thinking back on a concept Hans-Ulrich Obrist quips via the late Édouard Glissant: archipelago. The claim goes that, in a positive sense, the globalized art world (finding its off-Internet physicalization here in Berlin among other cities and countless art fairs) is less of a rigid and bordered continent, but rather an archipelago of islands. Extrapolating on this, between these shores maybe a communicative exchange is possible but it is not always plentiful, and that’s quite okay. Each world within this greater one operates with its own dialogues and economies, some shared and others more niche. But, if all is working as it should, the resulting environment is a heterogenous art world of diverse perspective, and not a monotonous homogeneous one that blends differently colored spheres into something of a grey.
So for this reason what I predicted to be overwhelming (social aspects excluded) felt encouraging, and moving island to island, a multiplicity of views stood together and apart, cumulatively confirming Berlin’s relevance to art discourses (as well as the art market, judging by the variety of suits and private cars floating around). Fifty galleries are officially on the bill and dozens more are associatively involved, so along the axes finite energy and limited time, here a few galleries where I lingered longer.
Fragmented conversations (pulled from an overheard dialogue in Francis Ford Coppola’s film The Conversation) are intercepted by Gillick’s cold, aluminum and Plexiglass sculptures and by other viewers walking in the gallery. Assuming that this was intended, this self-conscious show recalls the loneliness of urban centers, as the sculptures seem to reference New York subway gates, paid entranceways and other structures that control the flow of people and our interaction with space and, in affect, one another.
This hideaway satellite space of Isabella Bortolozzi was appropriated just for Gallery Weekend. The old corner store apothecary was home to Seth Price’s series of seven shiny new paintings (he also is showing a different series of works at Future Gallery), each an interpretation of a basic envelope, ripped open to expose simple geometry. These anonymous, message-less subjects were worked on plywood, and what appeared to be flat and photographic became apparently sculptural when examined closer up — the product of intensive layers of screen printed acrylic, moulding paste and gesso.
Philip Guston at Aurel Scheibler
Here, and at a few other spaces (honorable mention: Julian Beck at Supportico Lopez), comparatively more historically grounded exhibitions (with way bigger price tags) could be found amongst arrayed works of a younger generation.
Aurel Scheibler was host to an exciting and intimate collection of the late Guston’s signature bubblegum pink paintings — still lives and hoods included. This show was a testament to the effectiveness of small gallery setting for such big works like this, rather than seeing them in role call with a myriad other names and eras in a museum.
Paralleled across the room were two works in a much darker palette that added contrast to his better known pastel hues. Between these, a triad of sombre works on paper brought attention to the dark and political heavy undertone that runs through Guston’s works.
This show was packed all weekend long. Friday’s opening night had a line down the street and a gallerist stood in as a bouncer even on Sunday afternoon. The hype that surrounded the thirty minute video work and partnering performance of Boychild in the gallery (who also performed at a club on Saturday night) scratched at my skeptical side when I read and heard about it, but screening Wu Tsang’s portrayal of the character Bliss (played semi-autobiographically by Boychild) was incredibly compelling.
Katja Novitskova was one of the artists’ who showed at the Fredericianum’s recent Speculations of Anonymous Materials — if I remember correctly, her larger than life, high definition chameleon digital print stared indifferently towards Ryan Trecartin’s video installation.
Up on the fourth floor of a business complex near Alexanderplatz is where Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler gallery exists at once central and removed. Even just the process of entering this unlikely gallery location (rotating door, mirrored elevator, grey carpeted hallway past dentist and GP offices) sparks imagination and intrigue, which is only further activated by Novitskova’s Spirit, Curiosity and Opportunity.
Borrowing from scientific pedagogies and archeological artifact, washing it all over with undefinable mysticism and fluid conspiracies, each work feigns truth and tangible information, though upon closer investigation, destroys any notions of it. Pathfinder is a series of terra-cotta pots printed with digital prints, piled in pieces and asking to be assembled into some kind of answer. Beside it, Energy release, an airbrushed aluminum sculpture of arrows that point inward, towards itself, is washed over with the yellow-orange filtered light a digital print on window film, titled Sky View (Mars), turning the bland view of Berlin into something curiously speculative.
Photograph courtesy of the gallery,
Marco Bruzzone at Gillmeier Rech
This new gallery has carried an engaging program of artists so far, including Lindsay Lawson last fall and Zuzanna Czebatul earlier this spring. Marco Bruzzone’s current exhibition recalled the stage of a play or set of a film — the gallery became a more private and domestic space with its walls painted off-white yellow around a mise-en-scène of tables and chair. The dimensions of the walls were exposed, measured in pizza dough which was jotted on the walls in pencil. The characters of the scene concealed themselves in less obvious places; profiles were carved into the wooden table stand and a ceramic face, at first out of view, sat in as a mafioso jeffe on an office chair, touching on familiar Italian narratives and cliché.
The Italian-born, now Berlin-based Bruzzone, worked with bread in his installation, Bread and Stones (Deep down… worn out by abnormal passion), last summer, and his poetic use of this ubiquitous material returned in SET MEMBERSHIP. In this case it was employed to apply color onto cloth-wrapped tables which stood in as paintings. Bread and circuses — an Italian-born phrase that critiques the political appeasement of the population through superficiality and material satisfaction — came to mind in his witty play with humor and economy.
Ned Vena at Société
It’s unusual to describe the reek of rubber as refreshing, but this underused sense was activated to brilliant affect by the industrial rubber matting that covered the floors of the gallery interior. Pairs of optically disillusioning target paintings hung menacingly in each room. The odor of the matts was strong enough that small air purifiers (it’s unclear whether these were functional or sculptural) hummed quietly, lending a disconcerting white noise when coupled with the score of one slowly rotating target painting.
Overall, a connotative death and violence lingered within this show’s perfect sterility, which was mitigated with subtle evidences of the artists’ hand: the black aerosol rubber lines that created each circle on these target paintings didn’t quite match up when they were adhered onto the target paintings, maintaining a trace of humanness within this otherwise black and white sensational purgatory.
The Cable Guys at Future Gallery
This group show featuring the work of Alice Channer, Paul Sharits, Seth Price and Spiros Hadjidjanos, was titled after the 1996 dark comedy ‘The Cable Guys’, attending to a not so faraway nostalgia. In an accelerating world, nostalgia seems to be a feeling that bites our heels all of the time these days, and in the case of Future Gallery’s exhibition, the reference to this film marks a backward gaze towards a time before this past decades’ technological advancements which reinvented artistic and communicative processes entirely.
At the entrance way of the gallery, Spiros Hadjidjanos’ spiraled ‘Network Sculptures’ had the gallery’s LAN cable functionally running through it. Hadjidjanos’ 3D print of an iPhone 5 was kiddy corner to Paul Sharits’ 1966 silent film on a hefty projector left a contemplative space for what’s in between.
The all-black gallery featured a long winding table that recalled at once factory conveyor belt and regal dinner table. Instead of pre-packaged meat or fancy hor d’oeuvres, Dualé’s eerily anatomical ceramic forms lay lifeless, at once idiosyncratic in detail and construction and repetitive in their affect. The table wound around a corner and disappeared into the gallery’s second room which was closed off. Whether these objects were coming or going, newly created or ready to be destroyed remained ambiguous. It’s so nice to see a show that speaks to the important but sometimes tired dialogues on technology and production in a way that is at once critical and totally romantic.
While I wasn’t physically in attendance at this show, I did check in on the live stream of Open For Business, which is an ongoing project by Kate Steciw and Rachel De Joode. Occupying the gallery for a one day collaboration that collides the studio with the gallery — the private with the public — these two artists intelligently leverage the Internet’s omnipresence. I look forward to seeing its final outcome, which will pop up on their tumblr eventually.
Gallery Weekend Berlin was held May 2nd through the 4th, 2014 at various locations around Berlin. Special thanks to Kate Brown for her comprehensive coverage of this exciting happening.