Walter Benjamin in Ibiza

April 18, 2018



I've been reading Howard Eiland's and Michael W. Jennings' biography of Walter Benjamin. Although I'm disappointed about how the book is written, it was nice to find out about some particularities of Walter Benjamin. Here a few about his stay in Ibiza in 1932 and 1933:

Benjamin was a flaneur par excellence, but going on a walk with Benjamin wasn't a quick undertaking. Apparently, each time he got an idea while walking, he stopped, murmuring "Tiens, tiens!" He admitted that walking kept him from thinking. "Tiens, tiens!" became his nickname in Ibiza. 

In Ibiza, Benjamin also got another nickname "el miserable," since he was poor and consequently not in a very optimistic mood. Being a freelance writer, Benjamin joked, had the advantage that one may be fully employed even when not being paid. 

In a letter to Gretel Karplus, the later Gretel Adorno,  Benjamin described how, under the influence of opium, he "obtained significant results in my study of curtains - for a curtain separated us from the balcony that looked out on the city and the sea." Benjamin coined the word "rideaulogie"  - the discipline that studies curtains. In his Crock Notes  ("crock" being a code word for hashish and opium) he mentions that curtains are "interpreters of the language of the wind."



I've been reading Howard Eiland's and Michael W. Jennings' biography of Walter Benjamin. Although I'm disappointed about how the book is written, it was nice to find out about some particularities of Walter Benjamin. Here a few about his stay in Ibiza in 1932 and 1933: Benjamin was a flaneur par excellence, but going on a walk with Benjamin wasn't a quick undertaking. Apparently, each time he got an idea while walking, he stop…


I've been reading Howard Eiland's and Michael W. Jennings' biography of Walter Benjamin. Although I'm disappointed about how the book is written, it was nice to find out about some particularities of Walter Benjamin. Here a few about his stay in Ibiza in 1932 and 1933:

Benjamin was a flaneur par excellence, but going on a walk with Benjamin wasn't a quick undertaking. Apparently, each time he got an idea while walking, he stopped, murmuring "Tiens, tiens!" He admitted that walking kept him from thinking. "Tiens, tiens!" became his nickname in Ibiza. 

In Ibiza, Benjamin also got another nickname "el miserable," since he was poor and consequently not in a very optimistic mood. Being a freelance writer, Benjamin joked, had the advantage that one may be fully employed even when not being paid. 

In a letter to Gretel Karplus, the later Gretel Adorno,  Benjamin described how, under the influence of opium, he "obtained significant results in my study of curtains - for a curtain separated us from the balcony that looked out on the city and the sea." Benjamin coined the word "rideaulogie"  - the discipline that studies curtains. In his Crock Notes  ("crock" being a code word for hashish and opium) he mentions that curtains are "interpreters of the language of the wind."



Gallery Hopping around Potsdamer Straße

April 13, 2018

At Exile Gallery its new director María Inés Plaza Lazo sat on the window sill, having her lunch break in the sun. Inside, the other director, Christian Siekmeier, was chitchatting with an editor of a fashion magazine. The next issue was going to be about artist couples and I threw in some names. The exhibition at Exile, guest-curated, was on the topic of galaxies. The show was okay but nothing that surprised me about galaxies. Some sand on the floor, some unexplored beaches on the canvas, a squeaking styrofoam design object, a treasure coffer. Now I think about it, it sounds a bit like a Robinson Crusoe exhibition instead of a galaxy. 


At Exile Gallery 

I strolled to Tanja Wagner and also she was sitting outside in the sun together with her team. We talked about the use of art fairs and how in the long run it might be better to make sure your artist’s work gets shown in institutions. I’m a fan of Tanja Wagner. Her gallery has a program, she’s passionate about art, she doesn’t talk art speak. She’s also the only gallerist in Berlin who dominantly represents women in her gallery and she manages not to be called a female art gallery. This time she had a show on by a new artist of hers, Nilbar Güreș. “Do you remember her work at the Berlin Bienniale in 2010?” she asked. And I did remember it, which is good sign. 


Nilbar Güreș at Tanja Wagner Gallery
At the entrance of Thomas Fischer Gallery three lads were eating an ice-cream. I went upstairs to see Dirk Braekmans, whose photographic work has a steady quality to it but he shouldn’t be doing videos. After a couple of minutes I was back downstairs and asked the lads where they bought their ice-cream. Before I bought one myself, I went by Plan B where I literally ran in and out. It hurt my eyes. At Esther Schipper everything was so sterile - really bad work by Ceal Floyer and something incomprehensible mysterious by Francesco Gennari. Esther Schipper should do something about its space: wooden floor might help to give it charm. Or maybe they could ask a feng shui specialist to get the bad vibe out?


Ceal Floyer at Esther Schipper

I finished my ice-cream just while walking through the door of Future Gallery and the gallery assistant was so nice to toss the paper in the trash. I never understood the art work exhibited at Future Gallery and I didn’t understand it this time. It’s art for Millennials. I had my finger on the bell of Barbara Wien gallery when I realized I had seen this exhibition before and had written about it for this blog. Let’s not show my face there yet, I thought, you never know...

In the evening the place to be was König Gallery, where “Hansa” had curated a group show in the tower of St. Agnes. I don’t know Hansa but apparently he’s a household name of the 1980s. “Did you get paid?” I asked an exhibiting artist. “No,’ he said. I wonder if Hansa got paid for curating the show. Johann König is a notorious cheapskate. I tried to get into the tower but there was a long line waiting on the stairs. Somebody told me that Isa Genzken had refused to show her art work at the last moment. But she was supposed to make an appearance that night. I’m a big fan of Isa Genzken but I don’t necessarily need to meet her in person. So I made my own appearance a short one.

A few days later, on another warm April day, and now better equipped with shades, pink lip gloss, and my new cool jacket of Claudie Pierlot (check me out at Gallery Weekend, I plan to wear the same outfit), I visited Aernout Mik’s exhibition at Carlier Gebauer. In a still two-channel video a couple of heavily weaponed terror police performing an awkward choreography in the deserted night streets of Ostend (my favorite town in Belgium). The police officers are not white, which seems important to mention. I stayed for a while, not knowing what to think about it. But then concluded that to be confused by an art work is not a bad thing to be.  


At Exile Gallery its new director María Inés Plaza Lazo sat on the window sill, having her lunch break in the sun. Inside, the other director, Christian Siekmeier, was chitchatting with an editor of a fashion magazine. The next issue was going to be about artist couples and I threw in some names. The exhibition at Exile, guest-curated, was on the topic of galaxies. The show was okay but nothing that surprised me about galaxies. Some sand on the …
At Exile Gallery its new director María Inés Plaza Lazo sat on the window sill, having her lunch break in the sun. Inside, the other director, Christian Siekmeier, was chitchatting with an editor of a fashion magazine. The next issue was going to be about artist couples and I threw in some names. The exhibition at Exile, guest-curated, was on the topic of galaxies. The show was okay but nothing that surprised me about galaxies. Some sand on the floor, some unexplored beaches on the canvas, a squeaking styrofoam design object, a treasure coffer. Now I think about it, it sounds a bit like a Robinson Crusoe exhibition instead of a galaxy. 


At Exile Gallery 

I strolled to Tanja Wagner and also she was sitting outside in the sun together with her team. We talked about the use of art fairs and how in the long run it might be better to make sure your artist’s work gets shown in institutions. I’m a fan of Tanja Wagner. Her gallery has a program, she’s passionate about art, she doesn’t talk art speak. She’s also the only gallerist in Berlin who dominantly represents women in her gallery and she manages not to be called a female art gallery. This time she had a show on by a new artist of hers, Nilbar Güreș. “Do you remember her work at the Berlin Bienniale in 2010?” she asked. And I did remember it, which is good sign. 


Nilbar Güreș at Tanja Wagner Gallery
At the entrance of Thomas Fischer Gallery three lads were eating an ice-cream. I went upstairs to see Dirk Braekmans, whose photographic work has a steady quality to it but he shouldn’t be doing videos. After a couple of minutes I was back downstairs and asked the lads where they bought their ice-cream. Before I bought one myself, I went by Plan B where I literally ran in and out. It hurt my eyes. At Esther Schipper everything was so sterile - really bad work by Ceal Floyer and something incomprehensible mysterious by Francesco Gennari. Esther Schipper should do something about its space: wooden floor might help to give it charm. Or maybe they could ask a feng shui specialist to get the bad vibe out?


Ceal Floyer at Esther Schipper

I finished my ice-cream just while walking through the door of Future Gallery and the gallery assistant was so nice to toss the paper in the trash. I never understood the art work exhibited at Future Gallery and I didn’t understand it this time. It’s art for Millennials. I had my finger on the bell of Barbara Wien gallery when I realized I had seen this exhibition before and had written about it for this blog. Let’s not show my face there yet, I thought, you never know...

In the evening the place to be was König Gallery, where “Hansa” had curated a group show in the tower of St. Agnes. I don’t know Hansa but apparently he’s a household name of the 1980s. “Did you get paid?” I asked an exhibiting artist. “No,’ he said. I wonder if Hansa got paid for curating the show. Johann König is a notorious cheapskate. I tried to get into the tower but there was a long line waiting on the stairs. Somebody told me that Isa Genzken had refused to show her art work at the last moment. But she was supposed to make an appearance that night. I’m a big fan of Isa Genzken but I don’t necessarily need to meet her in person. So I made my own appearance a short one.

A few days later, on another warm April day, and now better equipped with shades, pink lip gloss, and my new cool jacket of Claudie Pierlot (check me out at Gallery Weekend, I plan to wear the same outfit), I visited Aernout Mik’s exhibition at Carlier Gebauer. In a still two-channel video a couple of heavily weaponed terror police performing an awkward choreography in the deserted night streets of Ostend (my favorite town in Belgium). The police officers are not white, which seems important to mention. I stayed for a while, not knowing what to think about it. But then concluded that to be confused by an art work is not a bad thing to be.  


Hopping: Schinkel, Akademie, KW, SAVVY, Julia Stoschek

April 2, 2018


It was my friend A. who took me along the art institutions this weekend. She has a car that runs on electricity, which makes the smoothest sound - the sound of the future really. "Yes," A. confirmed, "In the future every car will run on electricity." 

So A. and I zoomed futuristically from one art space to the other on Friday. It was a marvellous day - with rays of sunshine accompanying us, which made everything so pleasant and I was in an excellent mood. At the Akademie der Künste, such an architectural beauty, I arrived at the opening hour and chatted a bit with the young man at the counter. "I missed out on the Brecht-Benjamin exhibition," I lamented, "How was it?" "A lot of text," he said. I nodded. We started talking about his position at the counter. I suggested he must see a lot happening. The man confided in me that he saw Daniel Richter and Albert Oehlen together. "Na ja, Daniel Richter," I said cranky. A. arrived and joined the conversation. "You're an artist, right?" I asked. "How do you know?" he said. "The haircut," A. said. The young man didn't like that answer but it was true: he was wearing The Cut. 

A. and I sighted when we entered the exhibition Underground und Improvisation. Alternative music and art after 1968. It made a stuffed impression with art works cluttered against the wall next to archival material. The musical instruments were presented like fetishes on pedestals. Not our kind of thing, that was clear from the start but we did give it a little try, walking around twice to check if we could find something that catches the eye and make us excited. Nothing really did. A. has even less patience than I have. The day before we had gone by the Schinkel pavilion to see Jordan Wolfson's exhibition, which is very "platt" to say it in German. We had to put on these huge 3D masks and the video started with a guy beating up another guy. "Do you want to see this?" A. asked immediately. I didn't. 




After the Akademie we zoomed through Tiergarten to KW. I've been reading M Train by Patti Smith and Klaus [Biesenbach] is a close friend of hers who pops up regularly in the book. I'm a bit confused by that because I like Patti Smith and think she must be a nice person but then I always thought of Klaus Biesenbach as arrogant. Maybe I'm wrong but then A. said I'm right and she knows so out of personal experience. 

KW has an interesting exhibition strategy going on under the new director: it always shows artists that are kind of related in their praxis. Like Ian Wilson and Hanne Lippard in their reduced aesthetics and now Judith Hopf and Trix & Robert with their design art. It was weak work. Trip & Robert were trying to pull of a kind of Richard Artschwager and Judith Hopf's red brick sculptures might have been something but then her videos were so bad as are her too funny computer men sculptures, so that also the red brick sculptures were not really doing it. "Zu dünn," A. said. 







We had a wonderful half an hour in the sun on the terrace of KW where A. told me about a basic rule of waitressing: when you have served a table, look around at the other tables before going back inside. We did manage to order in the end. 

SAVVY was our last stop of the day. I was excited to see the work of Julian Eastman in We have delivered ourselves from the tonal - of, with, towards, on Julius Eastman. But we were disappointed by the presentation, which we felt was kind of surprisingly loveless and amateurish. The music video of Annika Kahrs at the start had this bad camera work focussing on the ugly aesthetics of the clothes worn by the choir singers. Eastman's music could be listened to on headphones in the hallway but you had to sit on chairs pressed so closely to one another that they hardly invited to listen and were certainly not  giving the music a space to breath. Next to it was an archive on colonialism that was not part of the exhibition. There were commissioned works by SAVVY, which didn't have the quality of Eastman's work at all. I wish his oeuvre had been in the centre of the exhibition, and not somebody else's. Instead of an archival video material on a small screen, why not a big projection? And the tapes played on little stools, why not beautifully presented on a table? It could have been a magnificent installation. Such a pity. 




It was only the day after that I made it to Julia Stoschek in the Leipziger Straße. It was there that I saw a work that made me excited. Not Arthur Jafa's - although I can see it has importance, it didn't convince me in its aesthetics of cardboard sculptures, collaged videos and blown-up wallpaper photographs. Yet I loved the photographic collages titled Keeping it Together by Frida Orupabo that were exhibited alongside Jafa's work. Orupabo is an Instagram artist who makes small collages. For the Serpentine Galleries exhibition, she blew them up and stuck them together. It worked. They have an amazing power to them. The funny thing is that when I tried to Instagram them, for the first time in my Instagram career, they were refused. I guess I'm not going to be an Instagram art critic. 





It was my friend A. who took me along the art institutions this weekend. She has a car that runs on electricity, which makes the smoothest sound - the sound of the future really. "Yes," A. confirmed, "In the future every car will run on electricity."  So A. and I zoomed futuristically from one art space to the other on Friday. It was a marvellous day - with rays of sunshine accompanying us, which made everything so pleasant an…

It was my friend A. who took me along the art institutions this weekend. She has a car that runs on electricity, which makes the smoothest sound - the sound of the future really. "Yes," A. confirmed, "In the future every car will run on electricity." 

So A. and I zoomed futuristically from one art space to the other on Friday. It was a marvellous day - with rays of sunshine accompanying us, which made everything so pleasant and I was in an excellent mood. At the Akademie der Künste, such an architectural beauty, I arrived at the opening hour and chatted a bit with the young man at the counter. "I missed out on the Brecht-Benjamin exhibition," I lamented, "How was it?" "A lot of text," he said. I nodded. We started talking about his position at the counter. I suggested he must see a lot happening. The man confided in me that he saw Daniel Richter and Albert Oehlen together. "Na ja, Daniel Richter," I said cranky. A. arrived and joined the conversation. "You're an artist, right?" I asked. "How do you know?" he said. "The haircut," A. said. The young man didn't like that answer but it was true: he was wearing The Cut. 

A. and I sighted when we entered the exhibition Underground und Improvisation. Alternative music and art after 1968. It made a stuffed impression with art works cluttered against the wall next to archival material. The musical instruments were presented like fetishes on pedestals. Not our kind of thing, that was clear from the start but we did give it a little try, walking around twice to check if we could find something that catches the eye and make us excited. Nothing really did. A. has even less patience than I have. The day before we had gone by the Schinkel pavilion to see Jordan Wolfson's exhibition, which is very "platt" to say it in German. We had to put on these huge 3D masks and the video started with a guy beating up another guy. "Do you want to see this?" A. asked immediately. I didn't. 




After the Akademie we zoomed through Tiergarten to KW. I've been reading M Train by Patti Smith and Klaus [Biesenbach] is a close friend of hers who pops up regularly in the book. I'm a bit confused by that because I like Patti Smith and think she must be a nice person but then I always thought of Klaus Biesenbach as arrogant. Maybe I'm wrong but then A. said I'm right and she knows so out of personal experience. 

KW has an interesting exhibition strategy going on under the new director: it always shows artists that are kind of related in their praxis. Like Ian Wilson and Hanne Lippard in their reduced aesthetics and now Judith Hopf and Trix & Robert with their design art. It was weak work. Trip & Robert were trying to pull of a kind of Richard Artschwager and Judith Hopf's red brick sculptures might have been something but then her videos were so bad as are her too funny computer men sculptures, so that also the red brick sculptures were not really doing it. "Zu dünn," A. said. 







We had a wonderful half an hour in the sun on the terrace of KW where A. told me about a basic rule of waitressing: when you have served a table, look around at the other tables before going back inside. We did manage to order in the end. 

SAVVY was our last stop of the day. I was excited to see the work of Julian Eastman in We have delivered ourselves from the tonal - of, with, towards, on Julius Eastman. But we were disappointed by the presentation, which we felt was kind of surprisingly loveless and amateurish. The music video of Annika Kahrs at the start had this bad camera work focussing on the ugly aesthetics of the clothes worn by the choir singers. Eastman's music could be listened to on headphones in the hallway but you had to sit on chairs pressed so closely to one another that they hardly invited to listen and were certainly not  giving the music a space to breath. Next to it was an archive on colonialism that was not part of the exhibition. There were commissioned works by SAVVY, which didn't have the quality of Eastman's work at all. I wish his oeuvre had been in the centre of the exhibition, and not somebody else's. Instead of an archival video material on a small screen, why not a big projection? And the tapes played on little stools, why not beautifully presented on a table? It could have been a magnificent installation. Such a pity. 




It was only the day after that I made it to Julia Stoschek in the Leipziger Straße. It was there that I saw a work that made me excited. Not Arthur Jafa's - although I can see it has importance, it didn't convince me in its aesthetics of cardboard sculptures, collaged videos and blown-up wallpaper photographs. Yet I loved the photographic collages titled Keeping it Together by Frida Orupabo that were exhibited alongside Jafa's work. Orupabo is an Instagram artist who makes small collages. For the Serpentine Galleries exhibition, she blew them up and stuck them together. It worked. They have an amazing power to them. The funny thing is that when I tried to Instagram them, for the first time in my Instagram career, they were refused. I guess I'm not going to be an Instagram art critic. 





Uh! Ah! Argh! Art Based Text Writing at the Library

March 27, 2018


The last four Sundays I was teaching a writing workshop at the AGB, my favourite library in town, as part of the Sonntagsbureau. The idea was to do finger exercises inspired by the ways artists use language; in collages (Sister Corita), street art (Basquiat), tattoos (Tabea Blumenschein, Shirin Neshat) and concrete poetry (Dieter Roth, Hanne Darboven). 

Here below a few examples of those exercises in "zeitschreiben" (writing time), "zeichensätzungen" (punctuations poems), "fratzenshows" (show of grimaces). We followed Sol LeWitt's Dictum: "If words are used, and they proceed from ideas about art, then they are art and not literature; numbers are not mathematics."

Emilia Mello

Elsa Mencagli

Nina Del Marr

Jacqueline Grassmann

Dorothea Fe

Diana Gehring

Julia Rublack

Renata da Ribeira

Monika Backhaus


The last four Sundays I was teaching a writing workshop at the AGB, my favourite library in town, as part of the Sonntagsbureau. The idea was to do finger exercises inspired by the ways artists use language; in collages (Sister Corita), street art (Basquiat), tattoos (Tabea Blumenschein, Shirin Neshat) and concrete poetry (Dieter Roth, Hanne Darboven).  Here below a few examples of those exercises in "zeitschreiben" (writing time), &quo…

The last four Sundays I was teaching a writing workshop at the AGB, my favourite library in town, as part of the Sonntagsbureau. The idea was to do finger exercises inspired by the ways artists use language; in collages (Sister Corita), street art (Basquiat), tattoos (Tabea Blumenschein, Shirin Neshat) and concrete poetry (Dieter Roth, Hanne Darboven). 

Here below a few examples of those exercises in "zeitschreiben" (writing time), "zeichensätzungen" (punctuations poems), "fratzenshows" (show of grimaces). We followed Sol LeWitt's Dictum: "If words are used, and they proceed from ideas about art, then they are art and not literature; numbers are not mathematics."

Emilia Mello

Elsa Mencagli

Nina Del Marr

Jacqueline Grassmann

Dorothea Fe

Diana Gehring

Julia Rublack

Renata da Ribeira

Monika Backhaus