An A4 poster in the front window of a Mitte gallery caught my eye this week, on it were 2 images paired next to one another: the most recent Vernissage of the gallery itself – guests, few. The other of the tightly packed queue outside of the Hamburger Bahnhof on an opening night with the following caption underneath:
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
a) This is a good exhibition
b) This is a bad exhibition
c) The fact that there is no queue has nothing to do with the quality of the exhibition
ci) The length of the queue has nothing to do with the quality of the exhibition
In a literal sense, no one enjoys a queue - but a metaphorical queue (let's say- hype/gallery reputation etc), or lack of, might interfere with one's reaction to an exhibition...This week however, saw Easter squash the cultural calender in Berlin, and with no Bahnhof-players about, the scene was left wide-open:
Keep Taking It Apart - a bid to capture the moment language collapses.
Live Cinema - an endeavour to instil life into the cinematic domain.
Common Revilings - collective performativity on the dance-floor; a strive for Utopia?
Corporalitas -deconstruction of the façade.
note: + / - system
Keep Taking It Apart @ NOTE ON a group show curated by Yulia Startsev:
Nikolaus Gansterer, Sarah Elliott, Kevin Clancy, Beyza Boyacioglu, Jose Andres Mora, Patricia Reed
+6 with the overarching thesis concerning the error and mistranslation in language, the exhibition was befittingly un-plagued with additional material and explanatory plaques.
+5 in light of the above “+”: arriving to see the curator pencilling in the artist's names and the respective titles next to each of the works – as though an afterthought.
+1 with most visitors plugged in to the head sets accompanying each visual-sound piece or engrossed in text-heavy works the, at times, crowded-room was relatively hushed– shifting focus onto the lived experience of the work.
-1 on a personal level I became acutely aware of the decibel-level I was conversing on - a selfish complaint.
(above) Patricia Reed's sculpture described as the “antithesis and the thesis” managed to capture the tension of the live event, and like the space within between the lamps – all sound was contained and internalised in the exhibition space.
(above) Blown up pages, from a work by Nikolaus Gansterer which came in the form of a small book, ensuring that those weary of hogging could enjoy a guilt-less viewing.
-8 having dogs present at the opening; creatures blissfully unaware of silent codes of conduct. Forgivably, they did not notice the internalising affects the exhibition, with its tea-light ambiance, was having on the nearby humans and insisted on barking now and then – meriting stern glances from the curator...Soon after a television-based piece proceeded to emit noise outwardly - an inevitable occurrence when delegating any responsibility to the inherently temperamental...
+3 these 2 uncontrollable elements, whilst responsible for momentarily interrupting the well orchestrated flow in the room, were also that which added a human quality to the event - which may have veered on too ethereal otherwise.
+5 no children.
+9 the theoretical thread linking the works together, mediated by the hand of the curator, was highly prevalent and so it seemed fitting for her to be present..providing at times nearly the only solid voice in the hushed room.
Live Cinema @ BABYLON presented by The Schuldenberg-Foundation
+7 for the opportunity to see inside the Babylon cinema free of charge – a 1920s architectural delight.
-6 for half the people on my row fleeing after 5 minutes - it seemed not enough time had elapsed for one to gauge if it was their 'thing' or not... but the rate of people bolting-it rose exponentially therein, with a friend commenting “this wouldn’t happen in England” (blind endurance for the sake of politeness is not to be applauded either - on a Friday evening).
+8 awakening the space - the existing cinematic screen was delegated to backdrop, making way for live action by way of an orchestra, singers and actors. Furthermore, with a shifting focal point and multiple stages the traditional set-up of a fixed audience-based spacial relationship was negated.
+4 some (a handful) of the more adventurous audience members got up, following the action around the space and in doing so defying the function-incited 'rules' haunting the space.
-5 having the words “FOCUS” and “OBSERVE” chanted from around the room was fairly off-putting to say the least as I think everyone was trying, and worse still...“DO OR DIE” (also printed on the flyer) - a sentiment probably not to be taken to heart.
Common Revilings @ Important Projects presented by Knuckle Cartel and La Mission
+6 the kind of rule-based exclusivity I fully support, whereby I arrived safe in the knowledge that my name +1 would be on the list, after having emailed beforehand- a requirement made clear on the website.
-4 a snippet from the blurb available online “This work is a sonic, visual, and sensational milkshake that will, without a doubt, bring both the boys and the girls to the yard (thank you Kelis and The United Dairy Farmers of America).” - Ug.
+10 to a very pleasant surprise. It was the only show/exhibition I felt a true affinity to this week..a reminder to me not to judge a live performance piece based on a text read beforehand...
-4 the serving of the (Peruvian) food: having to watch the arduous performance of the food being ladled out onto the plate was too much for me and, lacking patience, I left to take photos. The man serving the food turned out to be a leading part in the collective -and gave a very likeable and enlightening opening lecture, delivered at a more favourable pace.
+4 the food tasted delicious.
+6 the event was live in every sense, imploring one to: listen, eat, drink, see, feel etc... and with not a text in sight. Emphasis was placed on real-time enjoyment (inferred in the gold ticket that was awarded on arrival) and before the performance we, the audience, were told: “fear not, there will be more drinks after the performance”, fitting as it transpired that the theoretical premise for the show was: the pursuit of utopia through collective performativity and the dance floor as utopic space.
(above) - the live-articulation of the intent outlined in the lecture; a connection between a group of people through simultaneous movement. The absurdest movement patterns on stage gesticulated habits and rituals normalized through repetition, learnt through imitation and used in our society... (or dance floor)
+3 Demonstrating that there is perhaps a more idealistic reasoning behind the Berghain-clubbing culture in Berlin...
+7 the 'wall' didn’t disappear in the way I had expected and there was no audience participation – thankfully. Instead the sensation was cultivated that one was accessing both the on and off stage personas of the performers; the cast would act as though they had temporarily forgotten the audience, with whispers to one another such as “you should say something now”. This can be sometimes be an ineffective trick in theatre, but the quality of the performers meant that it worked. Furthermore the remainder of the rooms in the space, which were free for inspection prior to the show, were consciously-laid out with props and costumes – access to their pseudo-dressing rooms heightened this sensation of transparency - that was affectively a double lie, but performed seamlessly.
Przemek Pyszczek @KSF Berlin
+8 I had the pleasure of being led around the beautiful space by the artist while he talked me through his developing creative process, which led him from A to B: