March 22, 2015

1+1 =2. "Serialize" at Peres Projects

Great invitation card of Serialize by Peres Projects,
depicting Andy Warhol's Ladies and Gentlemen (Helen), 1975

In this review I’m going to talk in two’s. I have, for instance, two things to say after gallery hopping this week. First thing: anthropologists should stop wanting to be artists and artists should stop wanting to be anthropologists. OK, I hope this is clear without pointing the finger to certain galleries and shows. Second thing: the show Serialize at Peres Projects is awesome! I had such a good time - the exhibition really made me happy (as did the delicious quiche at the opening). Javier Peres knows how to bring his Los Angeles spirit to Berlin and I can only say “OMG, Thank You!!!” Berlin is after all very much located in Germany although one likes to think it’s not. This basically means that everything has to be heavy and “meaningful” instead of frivolous and Pop and humorous. The heaviness goes along with a lot of pretensions of sincerity, honesty, and authenticity. I can tell you that after a while of this German profoundness you scream for some lightness of being. Lets get it straight once and for all, shall we, Germany. First, because something looks easy, it’s not necessarily bad (and because something looks difficult, it’s not necessarily good). Second, humor is not the opposite of deep analysis. Rule Nr. 1 of Good Art is humor. 

Friends posing in front of radiating art work at Serialize.
It remains unclear if they are fans of Mark Flood or of Justin Bieber.

And the show Serialize has humor to it. First of all, for Peres Projects to conceptualize such an American exhibition in Berlin is quite funny. Because there is nothing more American then to serialize, isn’t it. Capitalism is build on serialization. And of course, the Godfather of serial art is Andy Warhol. Javier Peres shows here work from his own collection: Warhol’s Ladies and Gentlemen polaroid series featuring Wilhelmina Ross and Helen - ladies in terms of gender and gentlemen in terms of sex. Art historian Arthur Danto claimed that Warhol was truly avant-garde: starting in 1960 he blurred the boundaries between low and high culture, and in the following years other boundaries started to blur in society: between ethnicities and classes but also between sexes. The Ladies and Gentlemen polaroid photos were used by Warhol as source images for his paintings and depict its subjects in a series of facial expressions and gestures. As Warhol said, Pop Art was not about talking but about doing outrageous things, it was more about “gestures” than about articulation. 

Second of all, the whole exhibition space is divided into two parts that kind of mirror one another, though not exactly. This mirroring gives the exhibition not only a great Gestalt, it also enhances the serial "I’ve-seen-this-thing-before" effect. Serialize is stretched in different ways: as an obsession in Mark Flood’s Background Radiation, based on posters, magazines and publicities of Justin Bieber, and as a serial killer kind of way in Dean Sameshima’s sculptural paintings Untitled (Predator to Prey). My favorites were the verifax collages by Wallace Berman - I hadn’t heard about this Californian artist before but I love his assemblages made with a verifax photocopy machine - and the minimalist, conceptual paintings by the (French?) artist Guillaume Gelot. You know how it’s easier to define things by what they’re not, right. That’s exactly what Guillaume Gelot does: from NOT THE ANSWER, NOT SHAPES AND COLORS, NOT THE INTERNET, and NOT COMPLETION to a simple NO #2, NO #3, NO #4, NO #5 and NO #6, and then one basic No. There was only one confirmation titled 12 x 12

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