September 21, 2017

Berlin Art Week 2: Everything That Moves

Ho Tzu Nyen at Michael Janssen Gallery

“How do I recognize what’s part of the Future Now Festival?” a visitor asked me on Sunday at the Hamburger Bahnhof. “Everything that moves,” I said. 

When I saw the Wurst-stand at the entrance of the new Berlin Art Fair looking exactly the same as it did last year, I knew that imagination hadn’t been part of the new concept. 

I could only see the art fair later on, at home, on other people’s Instagram. I looked at what people posted in wonder how they can see what I can’t see. 

At KOW Michael E. Smith’s work left me neutral. “I have no opinion,” I said to somebody who asked.

At Sprüth Magers I could see that Barbara Kruger had done something with the space that had an impact but it didn’t make me warm.

Barbara Kruger

At Guido Baudach I was asking myself if the army camouflage stuff on the wall was very burnable and in case it was, how I would escape. 

At Arratia Beer, Holly Hendry’s sculptures would have been more interesting if the press text hadn’t explained them.

Holly Hendry

At Esther Schipper I was thinking that somebody should tell Karin Sander to take a course of Kritische Weißseinsforschung at the Humboldt University so that she can finally learn what she’s doing with the color white.

I didn’t go to Thomas Fischer because I’ve seen Sebastian Stumpf jumping from rocks too many times to still find it interesting.

I got excited at Blain Southern about Michael Simpson’s bench and ladder paintings. They are benches and ladders and at the same time they’re something more. 

Drawings by Michael Simpson upstairs at Blain Southern

And I got very excited about the excellent zombie movie by Ho Tzu Nyen at Michael Janssen Gallery and spent the rest of the night there, with artists Aiko Tezuka, Akane Kimbara, art historian Mariko Mikami and the artist himself. We were talking about the zombies in the film and then we were chatting about people in real life. Although after a while the zombies and the living got mixed up.

Talking about zombies, fiction and non-fiction
Good times at Michael Janssen Gallery

September 13, 2017

Berlin Art Week: Who Wears It Better?

I started Berlin Art Week in a VIP fashion. 

At Hamburger Bahnhof I hear that a whole lot of birches have arrived to be installed in the Historical Hall for the Future Now Festival. “How high?” I ask. “Six meters,” the guard tells me. I get pre-stomachache. 

KW press conference takes place in the café for some reason. It’s cramped, obviously, and the director and artist refuse to use a microphone so that nobody can understand them. This does not keep them from talking on and on and on.... 

That’s why during the press conference I’m sitting outside in the garden of the KW on these horrible green chairs of the last Berlin Biennial that make your but hurt. I ask my colleague: “Do you still write poetry?” “Na, I stopped smoking. I don’t know if I can do writing without.”

Willem de Rooij’s newest work for the KW exhibition is a sound piece with howling dogs in Greenland. This has been done before by Dieter Roth but then in Spain. So we (the press) play the game “Who wears it better?”  De Rooij makes the howling elegiac and pleasing so that it bores the hell out of you. In Roth’s piece, the dog’s barking is hardly bearable, it gets under your skin and it’s merciless towards your sense of aesthetics. And he doesn’t need to darken the space to create an existential feeling.

Crossing the street to go to an art space, the person next to me tells me to watch out for the approaching car: “Mit Diplomaten muss man aufpassen...” (you have to watch out with diplomates)

Listening to the welcome speech at the next art reception, I ask my neighbor: “Why is she reading from a paper?” My neighbor answers: “Because she has nothing to say.”

Annemie Vanackere and Miet Warlop

At HAU it’s fun to hear two women talk with a Belgian accent. I always wondered how my accent sounds and now I know it  sounds cute. I’m a new fan of Annemie Vanackere, the director of HAU. She’s awesome, isn’t she? Miet Warlop performs Nervous Pictures, which is a great title and she herself is great too. Very strange because most Belgians make me crinkle my nose. 

I decide not to go to Monica Bonvicini’s exhibition at Berlinische Galerie. Just not my thing. I mean "Sex and lube" would be a show i'd check out, but not "3612,54 M³ VS 0,05 M³"

September 7, 2017

End of the Summer Tales in Cultural History

A young man with naked upper body sits down next to me. I’m sitting on the terrace of a Lebanese restaurant eating halloumi. “Alt-Tempelhof is getting younger,” I message my friend. “Stay calm,” my friend writes back. And a few seconds later: “Stop staring!” The young man puts on his T-shirt. Maybe it feels inappropriate to eat half naked. Or maybe because I'm staring. I notice he has three vegetables on his bicycle rack: an orange pepper, mushrooms and a broccoli. Since he’s eating a Shawarma I conclude he’s not a vegetarian. 

That kind of morning

Walking inside the Lebanese restaurant to pay, I see the writing on the cook's T-shirt. It says: "Denim doesn't build character. It reveals it."

A man and a woman sit opposite each other in the subway, talking loudly so they can have a conversation as if they would sit next to each other. They’re dressed in black and have skulls depicted on their T-shirt. “Versuche das Wesentliche vom Unwesentlichen zu trennen, so sagte ich ihr,” (“Try to separate the essential from the inessential, so I told her.)  the man says, and adds: “Jetzt geht sie in die Kirche.” ("Now she goes to church.”) “Nicht meine Lösung,” the woman says (“Not my kind of solution”). The conversation continues philosophically. Talking about good or bad decision making, the woman concludes: “Es gibt keine Garantie” (“There’s no guaranty”). 

Brussels - Berlin