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.