May 11, 2014

My Gallery Weekend: Cold, Hot, and In Between

What was hot at the latest Berlin Gallery Weekend? Let me tell you!

First of all, of course, the parties! I got invited (okay, not exactly invited, but kind of) to the Monopol party on Friday night. One might accuse the art magazine of being the Brigitte of the art world, but it sure knows how to pick a location: das Projektkinoost in the Leipziger Straße. The great thing about the party was not so much that the drinks were free (I don’t really care about alcohol) but that the dance floor was angular: great for doing the moon walk (which I happen to master, yes I do, thanks to the great hip hop dance classes of Justin F. Kennedy). So I hit the dance floor when it was still empty except for a kid hitting a ball (which is the second great thing to do on an angular floor). Then around 12pm I was forced to leave because the cigarette smoke was spreading around like smog - killing us softly. PS: the Monopol photographer was snapping pictures of the party, probably for the gala section of Monopol - so buy the next issue, because, OMG, it might feature my (interpretation of a) moon walk!

Stijn Ank at Michael Janssen Berlin © Kate Hers RHEE

There were three Belgian artists featured at the Berlin galleries and somehow, even I, suffering from a love-hate relationship with Belgium, couldn’t help feeling patriotic. So here I am being photographed together with artist Stijn Ank, of whom I saw some great cast-like sculptures at Michael Janssen (thank you kate hers RHEE  for capturing this precious moment! [follow her on twitter! and thank you Fabio Pink for inviting me over!]). Main show at the gallery was by Lili Dujourie. It shows a baroque sculpture of 1987 with blue velvet - a reference to the David Lynch thriller that came out a year before? I favored the 1970s videos of Lili Dujourie pacing around and waiting in the studio. In Johnen Galerie there was some more waiting in David Claerbout’s video Oil Workers, which is based on an internet photo of oil workers waiting under a bridge. I’m a fan of Claerbout’s die-hard consistency, his work always taking shape at the interstices of photography and film. I kind of am weary when he leaves that path, which he did in Travel, also shown at Johnen Galerie. I could not bear the meditation music of this piece, although I’m an esoteric person, and the pillows on the floor were too loungy for my taste. I think I can only enjoy art in an upright position. Claerbout, let's get back on track! 

David Claerbout, Oil workers (from the Shell company of Nigeria) returning home from work, caught in torrential rain, 2013, single channel video projection, HD animation, colour, silent, duration: infinite

On Friday night I was freezing my butt off, and the slick design art of Liam Gillick at Esther Shipper was not really sparking a fire - much more fun were Isa Melsheimer's flower tubs in the back garden. But Saturday was a lovely, sunny day to bike around town and see art. I cycled around Hallesches Tor and made it for the first time to DUVE Berlin, where Evan Gruzis exhibits art that seems to come from space - yet even more spooky was the "doomsday clock" in the gallery: when DUVE Berlin came upon the space, the clock was pointing at 5 minutes to 12 and it remains unchanged since then. Main goal of my tour was to see the new show of kate hers RHEE at the IBB Video Lounge in the Berlinische Gallerie. I’ve written before about kate hers RHEE’s fascinating exploration of the perplexing German language, which she started when she moved from the USA to Berlin. In the Berlinische Galerie these earlier explorations (Das deutschsprachliche Projekt, 2008 and Ach du heilig Scheiße, 2012) are shown together with new work, investigating structures of discrimination in language, involving Chocolate Kisses and excerpts of Mark Twain’sThe Awful German Language. What comes about is a complex matrix of American, Asian, European, African interconnections - and although Kate’s video seems to suggest a liberating ending, I’m still looking for the way out.

kate hers RHEE, (No) Regrets, video still, 2014 © the artist

And what more? I enjoyed the Carlier Gebauer show Memory Palaces - my favorite: the pop-up book installation by Ajay Kurian. And I always enjoy the atmosphere at Barbara Weiss where the art market doesn’t seem to scream in your face like it does in other galleries. Then there was Eine Ansammlung von Gegenständen of Fischli & Weiss at Sprüth Magers, for which I waited in line - it had apparently 2000 visitors a day! I didn’t understand why everybody was loving Huma Bhabha at Veneklasen /Werner - I was missing out on something, it seems. I finished Gallery Weekend on Sunday night at the finissage of a new art space, called KN, in Schöneberg. It is run by artist Jana Nowack and it’s the cutest space ever. Upcoming show is on Dagmar Dimitroff and Die Tödliche Doris. 
Right up in my alley, indeed! 

KN near Kleistpark in Schöneberg © Jana Nowack