Christoph Schlingensief @ KW

"There is a light that never goes out," sings Morrisey in The Smith's 1992 single of a similar title. In Kunst-Werke's most recent exhibit honoring the late Christoph Schlingensief, it is clear that there's still some volt of energy running through everything he touched.

At the auditory center of the exhibition is a constant hum. With the many moving parts, dozens of projected videos, and constant looping, layered soundtracks of his projects, it is unsurprising that the sound of footsteps and murmurs is overpowered by punctuated creepy/crawly/crazy noises. But at the helm of the wave of sound is a dull roar, echoing past his Burkina Faso projects, through the coat check, and even sneaking into the men's bathroom (I can vouch). Unifying the broad scope and scale of his work - Schlingensief worked on sculptures, installations, movies, and everything between - the continual drone acts at time as a soothing coo; at others, an unnerving call.

More literally at the center of the gallery is Schlingensief's carousel. Exploring rotating room-on-room structure enclosed within four walls, I imagined that this is what it would be like if Cindy Sherman recreated the marshes of the Vietnam War. Singers say that they can get lost in their music; drivers often report losing track of time and realizing that they remember absolutely nothing of their daily 45-minute commute home. I experienced a similar disorientation with Schligensief's carousel - 30 seconds into a film projected on the interior of the structure, I suddenly realized I had no idea which direction I was facing, which direction to go, and which direction would lead me to more stable ground.

The Kunst-Werke retrospective of Christoph Schlingensief is a (again, literally) glowing tribute to the German art-pioneer. It is uniquely active and activating, successfully positioning the viewer both physically and mentally within the sweet-dream/beautiful-nightmare Schlingensief orchestrated. 

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