donderdag 3 november 2016

Potsdamer Straße- The Berlin Art Week goodies

On October 5th, Gallery Quest organized a gallery visit in the Potsdamer Straße area for a lovely group of Berlin ladies. We started our tour on the Schöneberger Ufer at Aurel Scheibler where we saw the hyper realistic paintings by Scottish artist Neil Gall (1967).  His paintings mainly consist out of holes, cut out of colored pieces of paper and then layered over each other. Any one with a kid recognizes this kind of left over pieces of scrap material. Gall has some fun with them.
Neil Gall @ Aurel Scheibler
Although his subject matter seems kind of simple (with a great effect I might add), Gall’s paintings stand in a very long, and may be even the longest, painterly tradition. In fact, painting nature as true as possible was the wager in an ancient Greek painting duel between the two rivals Zeuxis and Parrhasius, who lived in the 5th century BC. The anecdote was noted down by Pliny the Elder (died 79 AD) in the Naturalis Historia and tells the tale of  each of them delivering a painting to prove their worth.
Zeuxis had painted a still life with a bowl of fruit, so life like that a dove tried to steal a grape. Having fooled the bird, Zeuxis was confident of his victory and walked over to Parrhasius’ painting, that was hidden behind a curtain. As he reached out to draw it aside, he couldn’t… it was a painted curtain. Although Zeuxis fooled an animal, Parrhasius had fooled Zeuxis, a man and fellow artist.
Nowadays we call paintings like Neil Galls photo realistic which is actually a funny name, because what could be more realistic than reality itself?
Ugo Rondinone @ Esther Schipper
Ugo Rondinone @ Esther Schipper
At our next stop a few doors further, at Esther Schipper gallery, we stepped out of reality and into the head of Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone (1963). He transformed the whole gallery in a closed off white space with several objects in them, like aluminum casts of windows, corner stones of houses and a bright yellow painted wall. Rondinone calles his environment Two men contemplating the moon-1830, after a painting by the very well known German painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840).

The link with this famous Romantic painter is the clue to the interpretation of the room. For Friedrich, the inner eye was as important in the creation of a work as the outer one. After making sketches in nature, he retreated into his studio, where he finished the painting, using his inner world as well as the outside sketch.
Two Men Contemplating the Moon Department: European Paintings Culture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: 10 Working Date: ca. 1825-30 photography by mma, DT4626.tif touched by film and media (jnc) 10_13_08
Caspar David Friedrich, Two Men Contemplating the Moon, ca. 1825-30, 34.9 x 43.8 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Rondinone does the same. The windows, as a quite literally reference to the boundary between inside an outside, are now closed of and presented as objects. The corner stones refer to the actual outside living area of the artist in Harlem, NY. And the painted wall is an accumulation of past memories. Painted in thick impasto strokes on pieces of  sowed together burlap, we recognize bricks. According to the press text, Rondinone’s first studio in NY had one window, that looked out upon a brick wall. His father being a bricklayer and his mother a seamstress, this painted wall sculpture seems to bring it all together.
After going back into art history, our third stop is hard core contemporary art. In Future Gallery, dutch artist Constant Dullaert (1979) presented his Facebook army on a wall, which he build with bought identities.
Constant Dullaert @ Future Gallery
Constant Dullaert @ Future Gallery
The possibility of an army presents how easy it is to create  fake accounts. All that Facebook wants from you is a phone number, to prove you actually exist. And those can be bought very cheaply, in bulk, in countries like the Philipines, or India, or Sri Lanka.  It shows that even identities have become a commodity.
And although we know it is nonsense, a like a day seems to keep the doctor away: it can really influence your mood. But it can also influence your income. So why not create some more likes and artificially crack up your popularity? Businesses, (wannabe) pop starspoliticians, apparently everyone is doing it.
With his Facebook army, which got a lot of attention in the media, Dullaert protests against the importance placed on a thumbs up in our current attention fixated society. The artist planned to use his army of likes for interesting artists who could use a boost, and even considered some kind of ethics comity, who would decide whether you would qualify to get the likes by his army yes or no. Unfortunately, like many fake profiles, his army has also been removed by Facebook.
Shihuta Chiora @ Blain/Southern
Chiharo Shiota @ Blain/Southern
Blain Southern provided us with a chance to recuperate from all this contemporaneity and dive under the see (or under the stars?) in the spectacular installation by Japanese artist Chiharo Shiota (1972) called Uncertain journey. In three weeks time, with the help of 10 assistants, the artist wove a web of red yarn working it’s way up into the gallery space.
Last summer in the Japanese pavilion in the Venice Biennale, Shiota made a similar installation. They each offer lots of clues for both positive and negative associations. The boats hint to the notion of travel, but at the same time you can’t look at a boat without thinking of the refugee crisis. The threads and the weblike structure hint to the outside (invisible) data network that surrounds us but could also be our internal blood circulation. For Shiota it is all about remembrance. She weaves in the things that are important and should not be forgotten during the life journey, as referred to in the title, which we all take without knowing where we will end up.
Our final stop is the new project space and latest addition to the Potsdamer Straße gallery mile, WNTRP, run by Wentrup Gallery. I am really excited they opened a pilot space here, because their program (as well as their space on the Tempelhofer Ufer) is great but a bit of the beaten track and very difficult to fit into a gallery walk.
Hicham Berrada, Les Fleurs, film still
The first exhibition shows work by Moroccan artist Hicham Berrada (1986) who uses science as his palette and chemical processes as his paint brush to create poetic installations and performances. The installation Les Fleurs shows the use of a magnet on little parts of iron in a liquid. They are moved by a zest of wind and then quickly return to their original position, like a shoal of fish chased by a dolphin.
What we see is a split second, slowed down to several minutes. so actually we witness something that is normally, impossible to see.

maandag 10 oktober 2016

abc 2016 art fair madness!

abc 2016- overview
abc 2016 overview
How to survive the madness of an art fair and find your way through a maze of contemporary art? On Sunday September 18th, Gallery Quest organized an abc Art Berlin Contemporary exploration to shed more light on some very interesting art.
The first abc art fair was born in 2008 and came out of the same hat as Gallery Weekend, an initiative started in 2005 by a group of Berlin gallery owners. The intention was to get more art buyers and collectors into the city and for this purpose they smartly created two fixed art dates in the year.  Gallery Weekend in May and abc in the so called Kunstherbst (art autumn) in September are now a given for every art-ionata.
Our first stop and also one of the first galleries on the premises is the young and hipster (together with Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler and Future Gallery) Berlin gallery Société. Interesting, because on the abc floor plan they were situated all the way in the back of the former post station next to U Gleisdreieck. Apparently they pulled some strings and managed to talk their way to the front of the hall, even next to Esther Schipper gallery, one of the veterans and co-founder of the whole abc/gallery weekend art-fest itself.
Timur Si-Qin and Sean Raspet @Société
Société with Timur Si-Qin and Sean Raspet
Société had one wall and showed on it three works by German artist Timur Si-Qin (1984) and standing before it on the floor a work by American artist Sean Raspet (1981). Si-Qin, a German-half Mongolian-studied in Arizona-lives in Berlin again-artist is what you could call a true fluid world citizen. In his work he uses commercial visual language that has a worldwide appeal, which means you get it, egal where you live. An example is his PEACE logo here on view on a so called sponsor wall.

peace logo
It is a circle with a wave in it. Or better: it is a cross over between the yin-yang sign and the Pepsi cola logo, which is already a pretty funny notion by itself. Why is this logo so appealing, you might think? Because it uses a shape that every one knows: the shape of the earth. Here presented on a sponsor wall with the word ‘peace’ underneath it, we can be the pop stars, affiliating ourselves with a world view and a uplifting drink at the same time.
The great thing about art fairs is that you can cross the whole town in a matter of minutes. So from Société, whose gallery space is located near the Potsdamer Straße gallery hub, our next stop is Captain Petzel (whose employees also answer with a straight face to the name Captain Pretzel), located on the Karl-Marx-Allee.
Monnika Sosnowska @Captain Petzel
Monnika Sosnowska @Captain Petzel
On the floor we see distorted sculptures by Polish artist Monika Sosnowska (1971) with which she reacts to the rapidly changing city-scape of Warsaw. They are part of a series called Market which she started in 2013 and refer to the now demolished Decade Stadium, built in the fifties by the Socialist government. It was among other things used for parades and after the wall came down it became the biggest outdoor (black) market in Europe, known as the Jarmark Europa. It was demolished in 2008 to built a new stadium for the 2012 UEFA Champions League tournament, and with it’s destruction a popular folksy tradition and meeting place also disappeared.
The sculptures are in fact based on the market stands from the Jarmark, now fumbled together like a peace of paper you don’t need anymore. This is the eternal question: what do you keep and what do you through away? And in the case of a city: what is or has history enough to preserve it, who decides this and what are the criteria? A contemporary example in Berlin is the rebuilding of the former Stadtschloss, a fake building from a former era for which an actual piece of history (Palast der Republik) has been destroyed.
Tomàsz Mroz @Piktogram
Tomàsz Mroz @Piktogram
Around the corner Piktogram gallery from Warsaw (there was a lot to see from the Polish capital!) shows a table with a spoon gone wild, circling a piece of bread while a lazy worm-like creature is hanging from the edge. Next to it, on the ground, there is a cardboard box, filled with hay which houses the “mother”. She moves from time to time, which made some visitors jump. They are made by Tomàsz Mrotz (1979), a Polish artist who’s latest work consists of these cute but creepy (think Tim Burton) story telling like installations.
Alienation can not only be achieved by making things move, but also by changing their proportions, as we can see at Galerie Tobias Naehring where the giant vexier puzzles made by Austrian artist Eva Grubinger (1970) are on view. She shows us two from the Five Problems, which is the name of the series. They are enlarged versions of brain teasers where you have to get a little ball on a rope disentangled from a piece of wood.
Eva Grubbinger @Galerie Tobias Naehring
Eva Grubbinger @Galerie Tobias Naehring
The origin of this type of puzzle is not clear, but they can interestingly enough be found in various cultures, from ancient China and Greece to Iran. While nowadays we also experience problems that seem too large to solve (the climate crisis comes to mind), one cant’t help but noticing that this particular Problem has the shape of a giant penis.
A strangely relaxing psychedelic caravan slash mini disco made by american artist Kenny Scharf (1958) brings a nice pause from all our worldly troubles. Scharf comes from the street art scene, was friends with Keith Haring and started making little closed up spaces he called ‘closets’ which he filled with found materials from the street and painted in crazy neon colors. By creating a room that is totally different from the outside world, it functions as an escape to the busy city life.
Kenny Scharf
Kenny Scharf @Galerie Hans Mayer
Closet#16 is the only transportable one he made. Most of his closets have ended up in permanent installations in museums or have been destroyed. This one is made out of several older ones, which you can tell by the old toys he used like the Flintstones dolls, and it is therefore kind of unique.
Wouldn’t it be great to have spaces like that all over town? We lucky Berliners have a surrogate we can go to, a Kenny-Scharf-rip-off if you will. Since 2014 in certain areas in Berlin you can find mini disco’s in old telephone cells, where for 2 Euro’s you can choose your favorite song and have a private mini party. So whenever you need an escape from your wild life/job/relationship/whatever/all-of-the-above and there is no gallery in the vicinity, you now know where to go.
kenny scharf buitenkant
Kenny Scharf, Closet #16- outside view

woensdag 5 oktober 2016

Berlin Art Week: Gallery Night!

Birgit Jürgenssen
Ich möchte hier raus!, 1976/2006
Black and white photo
40 X 30 CM | 15 3/4 X 11 3/4 IN
Edition 6/18 Photo: Gallery Thomas Schülte
For the second year in a row, Gallery Quest organized a gallery tour during Gallery Night! All the galleries that are on view at the abc (art berlin contemporary) art fair open up their own spaces from 18:00- 21:00 hrs to show of the goodies.
On Friday night September 16th, we visited the Checkpoint Charlie area and our quest started at the renowned Galerie Thomas Schülte. The gallery is located in the beautiful  Tuteur-Haus, a former fashion store that was confiscated by the Nazi’s because of their Jewish owners and nowadays one of the few preserved  pre-war buildings in the area.
Fabian Marcaccio3DEP3, 2016
3D printed plastic, alkyd paint, silicone, hardware, rope, dimensions variable, photo Gallery Thomas Schülte
On show in the corner space is the installation 3DEP3 by Argentinian artist Fabian Marcaccio (1963), with colorful jellyfish-like tentacles which contain 3D-printed objects, like an automatic machine gun or a syringe with wings. The objects function as hidden stories, making the tentacles seem like story threads.
Marcaccio likes to call his installations “paintants” (painting + mutant) and refers to his practice as an extended field of painting. Why call it a sculpture if you can call it a 3D painting? It sounds way better and now we can see the tentacles as brush strokes in the air.
In the backroom of the gallery we enter the photo exhibition “Die zu sein scheint, die bin ich“, with works from the seventies by four fabulous photographers: Katharina Sieverding (1944), Cindy Sherman (1954), Francesca Woodman (1958-1981) and Birgit Jürgenssen (1949-2003). All four use their own image in their work to communicate their ideas. They do this with their face or body, naked as well as clothed and with or without attributes like masks and make up.
Katharina Sieverding
Transformer, 1973-1974
Digital slide projection, (86 Images), Loop
Dimensions variable
Photo: Gallery Thomas Schülte
The most striking ones are the projections called “Transformer” by Sieverding, where she projected here face over the face of her partner Klaus Mettig and in doing so questions the division of the two genders or gender roles, even breaking them down.

Haven’t we seen enough photo’s of women portraying themselves? The show is special, no doubt. Jürgenssen’s Polaroids are not often on show and the same goes for the very intimate work out of the short life of Francesca Woodman, who killed herself at the age of 21. But why show it now?, I asked Herr Schülte.  What can portraits from the seventies tell us that is relevant now?

Telfar Clemens @ the 9th Berlin Biennale in the Akademie der Künste
Telfar Clemens @ the 9th Berlin Biennale in the Akademie der Künste

Visiting the 9th Berlin Biennale this summer, mister Schülte noticed that the issues Sieverding worked with, are still an issue now. While in the seventies, artists like David Bowie and Mick Jagger where exploring the border between men’s and women’s clothing, American fashion designer Telfar Clemens, on view at the Biennale, goes one step further in proposing to dissolve the difference altogether. The division only has marketing purposes and in actually most cultures it is perfectly normal for men to wear a dress.
A second reason for choosing these particular artists could be that nowadays there is a revival going on about so called “forgotten” female artists. Two recent examples from earlier this year are Anna Opperman @ Barbara Thumm and Kiki Kogelnik@ Galerie Köning. These artists where there all along, just not getting the attention in a male dominated era. Like now with Faceb-Insta-Twitter: if it doesn’t get enough likes/re-tweets/shares, it doesn’t exist.
3D pixelsNext stop was Alexander Levy gallery with (like Marcaccio) more post-medium work (who doesn’t love a good post-something?) by German artist Sinta Werner (1977). Her architectural photo collages are made after models and play with the illusion of space.
Sinta Werner @Alexander Levy
Sinta Werner @Alexander Levy
In her work one can find many doublings, for she uses several prints of the same photo to create one work. In the photo above, she used the image in 2D, hanging on the wall and before it the same one in 3D, as a sculpture. Even better is the installation “Construction in the Moment” where she literally cut out a Photoshop cut-out and makes its pixels come to life in a 3D illusion in the gallery space.
We can find this doubling anywhere around us nowadays, in a world where there is a real and virtual version version of practically everything. From shopping to a library, from love to friendly chatting with your neighbor, google even made a virtual version of the earth itself.
BoundariesIn galerie Carlier/Gebauer Argentinian artist Sebastian Diaz Morales (1975) focuses in his work on the boundary between the two worlds, or more precise, the grey area between reality and fiction. This is also his playing field in the last part of the trilogy called “The Lost Object” on view in the gallery.
Richard Mosse, Moria, 2016, digital c-print on metallic paper, 126 x 431,5 cm. Photo: Carlier/Gebauer
Richard Mosse, Moria, 2016, digital c-print on metallic paper, 126 x 431,5 cm. Photo: Carlier/Gebauer
The photo’s in the next room by Irish artist Richard Mosse (1980), known for his strange surrealistic pink photo’s of war zones, are about real boundaries. In his series “Heat Maps” he portrays  refugee camps on Lesbos and on the Greece mainland with a special heat detection camera. It is normally used for military purposes, to catch and remove people. Instead Mosse uses it to show them, make them visible.

Showing the existence of  different worlds is also a theme that can be found at  Galerie Barbara Thumm  who is showing works by English star artist Fiona Banner (1966), famous for putting whole fighter jets in the Tate Modern. At Barbara Thumm, only the airplane noses remain. Two of them are hanging on the wall next two each other, resembling big breasts. There is a whole industry around these airplane noses and it even has it’s own folky art form called nose art. Barbara Thumm told me, it took the artists years to get into this particular (male dominated) scene.
Fiona Banner exhibition view Galerie Barbara Thumm, 2016 Photo: Jens Ziehe
Fiona Banner
exhibition view Galerie Barbara Thumm, 2016
Photo: Jens Ziehe
The noses are covered in pinstripes, as are multiple objects in the exhibition like chairs and a very precise graphite drawing. Banner uses the pin stripe to portray London city life, the office jungle with it’s pin stripe uniforms.
In the film “Phantom” Banner shows a drone trying to ‘read’ a magazine she made together with Magnum photographer Paolo Pelligrin, which was published by her own publishing company The Vanity Press (which sums up the purpose of most women magazines). The drone doesn’t succeed, the magazine gets destroyed and blown away whenever it comes too close.
The magazine is called “Heart of Darkness”, it refers to a controversial 19th century novel by Joseph Conrad where the main character sets out on a journey into the ‘darkness; of Africa, only to find out is can be as dark as his home town Londen.
Because ending with a bang is obligatory, König Galerie in the brutiful (ok, I stole that) St. Agnes church was our final destination. The space itself is a bang by itself, and so is everything you put in it. Even if it is a stain.
Daniel Turner, Particle Processed Cafeteria @König Galerie
Daniel Turner, Particle Processed Cafeteria @König Galerie
And it is not a stain, it is a cafeteria. American artist Daniel Turner (1983) worked for a whole month together with three assistants, grinding down this cafeteria out of his home state West-Virginia. Well, the 35 chairs and 6 tables that is. In the form of dust, it was flown to Berlin and in the nave of the church, the artist mixed the powder with some kind of acid and bleach and sprayed it on the floor.
Question is how long can we call it a cafeteria? Do we need the visible form for that or can the transformation into a different shape also carry the memory? And if we do, when did it stop being a cafeteria and crossed the line into being something else?
The work is site specific, which means that after the exhibition it will be destroyed (or vacuumed), but it is also for sale. Only one barrel of dust was used for the installation, another four remain. So if you want, you can have the cafeteria sprayed in your very own dining room.

donderdag 18 augustus 2016

Confusion is the new luxury: Berlin Biennale time!

Evans oor
Cecile B. Evans, What the Heart wants @ KW
“Confusion is the new luxury”. It sounds like an advertisement motto. Or a life mantra.  Or both. But actually it is a series by the Canadian artist Shawn Maximo. For the Berlin Biennale,  which ran from June 4th- September 18th, he designed a bathroom slash kitchen slash info center slash meditation space. And it summarizes this 9th edition pretty damn well.
This summer Gallery Quest worked for and toured at the overal exiting and broadly debated ( contrapro) Biennale, curated by the very happening New York art collective DIS. What are a bunch of NYC hipsters doing curating a biennale in Berlin, you might ask? Well, after the slow and more philosophical, whispering 8th edition in 2014, I guess it was time to shake it baby!
Rafman beer web
Jon Rafman @AdK
And so they did. DIS managed to capture the present time in statements like “people as data” (Alexandra Pirici@ KW), “nations as brands” (Christopher Kulendran Thomas @AdK, although I guess here”cities as brands” fits better), “the virtual as the real” (among others Jon Rafman @AdK, Amalia Ulman and Cécile B. Evans @KW), “culture as capital” (all the work concerning the sharing economy, like ayr @KW) ( and let’s not forget: the whole concept of the Berlin Art Week!), “wellness as politics” (Debora Delmar Corp.Timur Si-Qin, both @KW), happiness as GDP (GCC@ ESMT and Simon Fujiwara@ AdK).
These statements an sich are not new and we have been confronted multiple times with them over the last years. But put together they create a powerful… well what actually? It is nor a vision, an answer or a solution, it just is. And I guess that bothered people.
DIS titled the 9th Biennale “The present in drag”, which turned out to be equally confusing, because it actually hasn’t got that much to do with the drag part. It is about showing the facade, while at the same time we know that behind it hides a different message. Life was never so paradoxal, DIS says. We want wifi, even before we want water.
Cartoon by Argibald
Cartoon by Argibald
The advertisement term paradessence (paradox plus essence), which DIS uses,  is what life is made out of nowadays, (well, in the so called “western world” that is of course). It means that if you want to sell something, you need to integrate the total opposite. In that view, Donald Trumps hairstyle suddenly makes sense.
The ninth edition is a very young biennale. This goes for the curators as well as the artists. Most of them where born in the eighties, which means this is the first generation where internet access was a given by the time they entered high school.
This so called digital generation was apparently also frightening to some visitors/critics, which is a shame, because this is what the future looks like. And although the Biennale got overall very positive reviews, when the negative one, by the Guardian no less, came out, the grumpy generation awoke. But not understanding (and not wanting to)  is no excuse to call something superficial. And, as it is with all things negative, they stick.
I’d rather prefer Shawn Maximo.
Shawn Maximo web
Shawn Maximo @ KW

maandag 29 februari 2016

Fooled by expectations

Dominik Lang- Haus der Wohnirrtümer- Tschechisches Zentrum Berlin
„Where is the art, I see only rubbish”, proclaimed one of the visitors on the opening of Czech artist Dominik Lang’s (1980) exhibition Haus der Wohnirrtümer  in the Tschechisches Zentrum Berlin (TBZ).  The people around him murmured uncomfortably that he stood in the middle of it, that this was the exhibition.
Domink Lang- sculptuur web
It reminded me of the sticker “Is it art, or can I throw it away”, which I saw for the first time on a wall  in an experimental art fair in the Netherlands in 2011. It seems to have come from a real statement made by a janitor in an art academy, who got (probably rightly so) frustrated doing his job.
If the before mentioned visitor meant it or was just fooling around doesn’t really matter, because he nailed the exhibition theme.  He exactly pointed out what it is about.
ExpectationsHaus der Wohnirrtümer  is about searching, going around corners and never find what you expect.  What at first sight looks like a huge column (spoiler alert!), turns out to be half open on the other side, making it something in between a sculptural object and an architectural setting.
Dominik Lang zuil- web
The walls are not real either, you can crawl behind them. They lead to a dead end on one side and on the other to a little bedroom. Although it is hidden from the inside of the gallery, it is totally visible from the outside.
You are standing now in the window display of the TBZ, which is furnished with original objects from the seventies. They are part of the design for the whole embassy, made by the Czech architect couple Věra und Vladimír Machonin. The building is still mostly in its original style, with a lot of wood and bright colors (this is, apart from the exhibition, the second reason why you should definitely go).
Domink Lang - etalage- web
The whole exhibition is about expecting to see something. And what that ‘something’ is, totally up to you. Because you see the backs of the supported walls, you’re first reaction is to walk around them to see what’s there. A display of some sort is anticipated.
It is interesting to realize what your reaction is. Are you surprised, disappointed, confused? In this case the real question is: Are you ready to be confronted by your own expectations? I guess the angry visitor was not.
Dominik Lang - wand web
Very contemporaryWhat is important to realize, is that you are walking not only in an exhibition but in an art installation. It is not an exhibition where different kind of objects are put together in a room. Here, the artist takes on the role of the curator. He decides the total atmosphere of the room, which is a very contemporary thing to do.
In that sense, the remark from the angry visitor, would have been great as a line in a performance. With his words, he could have activated the installation as well as the viewer. The gallery space would become a stage with a decor and in doing so even more “genres”(which of course is a term that doesn’t make sense anymore) would be thrown in the mix.  Again, very contemporary!
More info here
On view until April 9th 2016

woensdag 24 februari 2016

Manifesto of life

In Hamburger Bahnhof you can enjoy the complex and multi-layered thirteen channel work Manifesto, made by Berlin based artist Julian Rosefeldt (1965). Actress Cate Blanchett explains the viewer in thirteen characters (12 women, 1 man) a century of art history via its manifests, thus becoming one big über-manifesto by itself.
Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto, 2014/2015
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
In the last century, most of the new art currents came with its own texts, guide books and/or ground rules, written by the protagonists of the movement in question. This were often young men “bursting with testosterone” as Rosefeldt calls them, which makes their embodiment by a woman all the more interesting.
Blanchett personifies these movements in totally different looking characters. For Dadaism she is a speaker at a funeral, Surrealism is embodied by a puppet maker, who makes her own puppet-version. Manifesto’s for genres are also enacted.  Film for example is presented by  a primary school teacher. For architecture,  the actrice is a single mom, riding her scooter to work in a garbage incineration plant.
Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto, 2014/2015
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
Sometimes, the thirteen voices suddenly come together, when the characters look directly at the viewer and proclaim their statements in a monotone voice. It is a confronting moment where all the parts come together, form a unity for a short time, and fall apart again in their own personal stories.
The unity probably refers to the starting point of most of these manifests, their raison d’être. It’s usually a desire to break away from the past and present a vision for the future.
The word manifesto was first used in a political sense, with The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and published in 1848. Only in the early 20th century, the term made it to the art realm by the use by Filippo Marinetti in his Manifesto of Futurism (1909).
In total, Manifesto addresses 20 art movements  in text experts out of  53 manifests. In an interview (in German) with the Bayerischer Rundfunk, Rosefeldt calls them text collages which are linked to a certain persona. But why is it the funeral speaker that speeches about Dadaism? What has the housewife to do with Pop Art?
Rosefeldt uses the original text out of its written context, and puts it in a theatrical form. By doing so,  the artist points even more to what is actually being said. When the news anchor proclaims that “All current art is fake”, it gets new meaning. But also because the spoken text and the persona can conflict with one another. For example the conservative housewife, who  sits together with her family at the dinner table and starts praying. She presents exactly the scenery that Pop Art wants to break away from.
In that sense, we get thrown back to the origins of the art manifest, the need to break away. Rosefeldt links this statement to the thirteen characters, playing a role one could identify oneself with.
The texts are linked to real life characters, because, in fact, we all make our personal manifesto’s. It’s like a rite of passage, when we enter into adulthood. Everyone goes through the phase of examining ones past and choosing what will accompany us into the future.
So when the housewife is  praying out of Claes Oldenburg’s Manifesto (of which he insists by the way it is not a manifest but a literary effort), instead of the bible, it refers to our personal belief system. She prays: “I am for the majestic art of dog-turds, rising like cathedrals” and her children at the table laugh. But not for long, because when they grow up it is their turn to break free.

vrijdag 12 februari 2016

Let's talk money - transmediale 2016

"We have to talk". This sentence usually implies it's time to get serious, to get real. The theme of this year’s transmediale, festival for digital art, culture and performance,  called Conversationpiece, aims to do just that. Focused around four directions: Anxious to See, Anxious to Make, Anxious to Share and Anxious to Secure, talking is presented not as something informal, but as a necessity. Two art installations in this 29th edition of the festival, held in Haus der Kulturen der Weltfelt anxious to talk about money.

Precarious Marathon
First of, the media installation by Dutch researcher/designer Femke Herregraven called Precarious Marathon, shows a virtual panel discussion between a moderator, a trader, an artist and a critic. They are each represented by their own screen, where we see lines moving, incarnating the four types. The artist, for example, could be the big knot, where ideas, thinking lines and associations come together in one big chaos. And the moderator has to be the screen with the three lines, trying to balance the input of the other three participants.

What we see is not a real discussion.The four characters are programmed chat-bots who each play their role according to a set of behavioral patterns. It’s a commentary on the changing art market, which is becoming more digital and virtual, where the majority of sales are made online, via a picture on Instagram (for more on this topic, read the excellent article by Marc Spiegler for the Art Newspaper).

Herregraven is interested in these invisible networks that never sleep, but mostly run through  tangible cables. These information streams are digital replacements for trading routes from the old days, like sea routes. Although more and more data is transferred by radio waves, Herregraven says it is good to realize that most of the data still travels through cables. Thus she proposes it looks more like a “never ending plate of spaghetti”, with lines crawling through one another. Now she uses these lines to incarnate four art types.

Interestingly enough, Herregraven includes a trader and not a gallerist. Like Spiegler states in the above mentioned article, it might be time to rethink the whole gallery system because the market as well as the type of collector is changing. It’s no secret the art world is becoming more and more financial. The number of fairs are still rising, accommodating a new type of busy, busy buyers who have no time to visit a gallery on a Saturday afternoon. Thus it may also be time to stop being so secretive about prices.

Market for immaterial Value
This is exactly what Valentina Karga and Pieterjan Grandy want to talk about. Their installation Market for Immaterial Value gives the viewer  the ability to actually participate in the art market, to be part of the making visible of it’s mysterious money streams.

The visitor is invited to buy an equity of an art piece, specially created for the occasion. It’s a small coin shaped object called Valentina and Pieter invest in themselves, made of gold, with the heads of the artists on one side. It can be obtained after discussing it with the artists, at a minimum of 10 euro's. If you buy a share, you get a certificate of the transaction, accompanied by a picture of the art work. This means that the actual art object consists of two parts, which could be sold independently, each creating their own market. Well, and actually there is a third part, a meta vision of how value is created.

At the end of the transmediale, the object was owned by 21 people, who paid together a sum of 324 euro’s for it. If one of the shareholders would want to exhibit it, the other owners would decide via an online referendum on such a request, discussing the terms. In theory, one new buyer could buy the rest out. In such a case the profit would be divided dependent on the original amount paid.
In fact, the project is a way to research a more sustainable way to run an art practice. But it also works the other way around. It inherently contains a vision, a proposal on how to be a future art collector. Why not co-own an artwork (or several) in the private sphere? There should of course be ground rules. For example to divide “hanging time” amongst its shareholders, rules for exhibiting and selling, sharing insurance costs, transport and (possible) maintenance.

It makes art accessible to a broader audience, rescues it from being put in depots and thus increases its visibility. It opens up new trade routes, from one owner's house to the next.

To yearn for

At the same time, it puts yearning back into play. Like the toy that was put away for a while, or the Christmas ornaments that you had to wait another whole year for. In a society with images ready available, it is a nice thing to long for, pine over or crave an image. That gives it new value.