Saturday, July 2, 2011

Based in Berlin is a project commissioned by Berlin’s Cultural Affairs Department, advised by Klaus Biesenbach, Christine Macel and Hans Ulrich Obrist

Based in Berlin is a project commissioned by Berlin's Cultural Affairs Department, advised by Klaus Biesenbach, Christine Macel and Hans Ulrich Obrist, organized by the Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH. Curators: Angelique Campens, Fredi Fischli, Magdalena Magiera, Jakob Schillinger, Scott Cameron Weaver. Artists: David Adamo, After the Butcher, Aids 3D, Akim, Özlem Altin, Julieta Aranda, Autocenter, Nina Beier, Rocco Berger, Gerry Bibby, Juliette Blightman, Erik Blinderman & Lisa Rave, Juliette Bonnevoit, Erik Bünger, Nina Canell, Nicolas Ceccaldi, Sunah Choi, Jay Chung & Q Takeki Maede, Kerstin Cmelka, Keren Cytter, Kajsa Dahlberg, Mariechen Danz, Giulio Delvè, Simon Denny, Michele Di Menna, Aleksandra Domanovic, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Köken Ergun, Evas Arche und der Feminist, Mattiash Fritsch, Kasia Fudakowski, Simon Fujiwara, Cyprien Gaillard, Galerie im Regierungsviertel / The Forgotten Bar Project, Tue Greenfort, Petrit Halilaj, Jan Peter Hammer, Alexander Hempel, Yngve Holen, David Hominal, HUSH HUSH, Invisible Playground, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Ilja Karilampi, Tobias Kaspar, Nina Könnemann, Asaf Koriat, Wojciech Kosma, Kitty Kraus, Oliver Laric, Alexandra Leykauf, Klara Lidén, Ilya Lipkin, Trevor Lloyd, Maria Loboda, Florian Ludwig & Owen Hoskins, Dafna Maimon, Ryan McLaughlin, Gareth Moore, Shahryar Nashat, Anne Neukamp, Ken Okiishi, Palmbomen, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Pantha du Prince, Amy Patton, Dirk Peuker, Ralf Pflugflder, PMgalerie, Agniesyka Polska, Roseline Rannoch, Mandla Reuter, Yorgos Sapountzis, Thomas Sauter, Lena Inken Schaefer, Ariel Schlesinger, Jeremy Shaw, Heji Shin, Timur Si-Qin, Dominik Sittig, Juliane Solmsdorf, Fiete Stolte, Jana Unmüßig, Danh Vo, Ming Wong, Helga Wretman Shingo Yoshida.  Atelierhaus Monbijoupark, 10178, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, 10117, Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof-Museum für Gegenwart, 10557, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein-n.b.k., 10115, Berlinischen Galerie-Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur, 10115,Berlin, DE  by, craniv boyd.



Once upon a time as the end of the urban depression and white flight that afflicted the isle of Mannahatta as the nineteen hundred seventies drew to a close, an art exhibition, in an non for profit partially government subsidized partially private funded, art exhibition space, a short run mythical exhibition took place that ushered in a kind of loose fitting much written about art movement that was no movement at all, that of the Pictures Generation, Cindy Sherman is grouped in this mythical exhibition often conferred retroactively with a certain predictive grace, despite her non participation, Robert Longo, and the Panama Zone born, and of late, more hotter,  Richard Prince, David Salle among others who were making works dealing with appropriation. Based in Berlin, a sprawling multi housed exposition, in a post twenty years of reunified Germany and a post fifty-years of the building of that physically concrete version of that iron curtain, is the setting for it, a order of dystopic worlds fair which, comes across, figuratively, as the "Objects Generation" in Hauptstaat, Berlin, 2011 to New York Cites, Pictures Generation of '77.  


This is an attempt with glaringly insufficient means available to the author, to write about eighteen of the participating artists, and to narrate, an experience of viewing had when in the company of their art works. 18, only as an associative, yet altogether programmatic, arbitrary limit, like a Brumier of sorts, not in an effort to change the calendrical system of a European Nation in revolt, but merely as a vehicle both, symbolically opaque, totally reappropriated again, and vaguely political like much of the work to be discussed in Based in Berlin, a mildly speaking, controversial exhibition.


One: Down with that pinko building


A team of pre middle aged men that are at times well past adolescence are standing on ladders chipping and carving away attired in dust masks for health and safety reasons, equipped with jack hammers, sledgehammers, mallets and chilsles, in an adhoc mötley assortment. The trained eye quickly gathers that this working men in MontBijou Park, are of a niche set, and not simply notdürftig from their consciously casual dress and varied rainbow skin pigmentation, we can see that this is no ordinary demolition team. They take their task with a slowed down, artful, theatrical languor, their ambient hammering away is a sound track of conceptual urban renewal in the hands or rather Mind via choreographed logistical skill of South African born artist Mandla Reuter, who has as his contribution to Based in Berlin Hired a team of local artists, in this case the title artist assistants or creative day laborers, would be more apt, young men of the freelance and footloose variety, to execute his exhibition stopping artwork in a behæmoth group exhibition. 


The work vies for attention in that it makes a reality, such as the pending demolition of the ætilier Haus MontBijou Park, that in a former life, was the work space annex of former East Berlin art Academy, Wiesensee, conveniently situated across the river banks from the Museum Island, obvious. This building shall be torn down at the close or near the termination of the exhibition, Mandla Reuter, takes the stance of, lets get a head start guys, and places thereby on view, a wrecking crew working to the pace of a slug. Dance theater happening atop ladders in real-time, where the performers make such a cacophony that their accompaniment permeates the building they scar with at times tools, not entirely foreign to those that Michelangelo, might have held whilst he authored David. This well tempered din, manages to aggravate the senses to the extent of producing an affect of, desperation, sinking ship uncertainty, panic and timely-ness, the rhythmic jack hammering and chiseling on a smallish modernist shoebox of a building is unrelenting in its attack on the actual re appropriated building that houses a segment of the generalist, open call, exhibition, Based in Berlin.   


Two: Phallus Envy


To jump-cut to another more singular location of Based in Berlin, sojourn to Berlinisches Gallerie just a few moments southeast of touristland, subheading "and how the east was won back untoward the west" or as it stands in guidebooks and maps Checkpoint Charlie. The Gallerie is a rather ominous huge white cube that received generous support as proudly display in a large black and white plaque by the entrance, donations for public art institutions seemed big in let say 2005 but as we can see on the plaque there are fewer and fewer names in 2007 or the last year displayed for the public is 2008 a paltry few of under a dozen givers give to, Berlinisches Gallerie, or perhaps after 2008 Berlinisches Gallerie just required less philanthropic assistance for its exhibitions and overhead expenditures? Rather dull fare all this, who gave how much and what year, I make mention of it only in leiu of the fact that it so happens to be decisively one of the first things you see or read on entering, this plaque rests between the main entrance and the hall where the café is, in other words improbable to miss.


Simon Fujiwara, UK born artist, in Phallusies (An Arabian Mystery), 2010, has his literary narrative installation tucked away in a hushed corner left hand side past the ticket desk of the Gallerie with Kunsthalle pretensions. Fujiwara provides a novel take on a humble entrance style portal. In the place of dyed lightweight cotton cleft in the center, as barrier for people about to transverse a threshold, there are heavy plastic bands common in light industry to limit or bar particle or temperature transfer, hanging acrylic, scenographically splattered with drying clay.


What follows after the second one takes to enter is the bastard progeny of the white cube and black box, a dimly lit environs cluttered at the corners floors and yes at times walls with all sorts of clues to a mystery fictive object, in this installation which the public is told can be understood and read as a treatment for a film that has yet to be made, the large missing object is a five meters long attic representation of the genitals of a Satyr. Clues in the first room are tobacco pouch with rolling cigarettes and rolling papers mid table with a wall mounted clock that poses a rather sexist rhetorical question "what do women know about shrinkage?" opposite this wall a poster with a topples photographed updated version of the water nymph fantasy.


Progress to a room with video projected on a pull down "classroom" screen wall mounted, that holds interview footage shot on video of men with obscured faces speaking in varied forms of the queens English, about a missing penis. The next room has low hanging utilitarian incandescent lighting with aluminum housing suspended and providing the light to see the archive or story board or display the contradictory evidence of a hand full of witnesses on the subject of the missing member. Eyes have adjusted to the dark and you look up for a moment and leaning against the wall you see a wooden shipping palette with an open set of large steel shears, pointing up, big scissors lurking in the shadows to invoke castration angst.  


At the last chamber of this ambitious four roomed story board in three dimensions, is the missing object, hovering a sand covered toppled pillar, it is on two metal mounts pained black that offer the supporting role, to the floating manhood, at above chest level, well clearing the floor decorated with sand, contributing the desired desert vibrations. All this may come across as a bit lavish for a work in process, solipsistic certainly, that is when metered with the expectations provided at the outset before the entering this impersonal ironic installation that gives clever clues.


Three: Catch of the Day


Shifting to the local of the exhibition with the word Berliners like to assign to people with rudimentary if not non-existent German language comprehension skills, Bahnhof. To see, on the level above ground level and the Sara Wierner Café/ Restaurant, are, Color field canvass painting as installed element caught in individually tailor fit fishing nets designed for big fish, a larger scale expansive work, that is inclusive of a baby grand piano, selections from a north European intellectual's library, on the baby grand with the lid closed, the more approachable but no less apparent, jacket of everyman's costume, displayed hanging on a hook on the wall, selected by Danish born artist, Simon Dybbroe Møller, in slate blue, wool or poly acrylic blend instead of thick grey Tatars felt as with the late Shaman of Kriefeld, J. Beuys. This artwork has a performer, perhaps he, on the day I occasioned to see the work, was, the artist himself. In a Sisyphean effort to go a great distance to make an endurance per formative work and be there, sitting down at the piano and counted, for the duration of the exhibition, to blur that frontier of art and life yet again but with more opacity, less dogmatically, hence unclaimed. The wall mount states flatly Performer, amidst the list of materials of the work, it does not read, Performer:the artist himself, so the public is left in the dark as to the identity of whom is showing up daily, for the course of opening hours to complete the circuit as mentioned per museological exhibition caption, of piano, books, performer ect.


Casual magic could be a subheading, there was something quite, vibrant in the gaze that the performer had with members of the public, the look of some one who is observing the public observing, the gaze of the performer was unusually studied, and there was a dearth of vacant boredom one finds more often then not among the people employed who are the eyes for the protocol of a museum exhibition. His gaze was one that house a kind of territorial or proprietary care, not unlike a mother Eagle tending to her nest of chicks.


Four: The Naked and the Decapitated


Two artworks, two divergent art exhibition venues, one exhibition, one artist, Based in Berlin Only. Could read a mobile device carrier friendly summary of Danish born Artist Nina Beier's contribution to Based in Berlin. At Kunst Werke Institute for Contemporary art, Beier has a wall painting that is restricted by form of the square cut away occulus, or rather faux atrium spanning levels two and three of the KW building. The "Nude" as many in North America might un-politically correctly, dub this color of paint, reason stands it is the complextion of a disrobed Barbie doll, and of course other, more humane, objects. This blank wall painting works as a strong barely there background color for an other artists take on Paris based Romanian modernist, C. Brancusi's Endless column, this time in wood, with wood shavings left insitu, the approximate or average shade of bare Caucasian flesh offsets the tone of bright untreated soft wood rather nicely.


The precarious appearing glass shelving at the other institution is supported by purchased objects sculptures and crafts largely African in appearance that have been taken to the band saw instead of the barbers. Nina Beir has assembled a variety of Dansk Møblekunst, meets appended treasures from the Kuniglige Etnografiskt Museet in Cophenhagen, that in addition to its bemusing and droll experience art environs, has sinister portent, albeit cryptically administered, when we look at what is on view, rickety glass furniture held up by disfigured art objects, by no means haphazard selection process from a Danish perspective, art from Africa.


In the 1980's, blame it on tourism, there was some kind of a revived nostalgia for the Virgin Islands which the U.S took off Denmark's hands way back in 1917, that decade thirty years ago, the 80's saw the publication of some more accessible studies in Danish of the Kingdom of Denmark's slaving history.  


For whatever reason I find the aggressive mishandling of these exemplars of African art, its apparent misshaping by the hands of N. Beier and, a doubtlessly fast-paced (look to the burn marks on the wood) rotary saw blade, and the matter of fact, just so, usage of said art, as feet, headless figurative caryatids in art that looks and pretends towards innocuous and non offensive, un-political Møbelkunst. I am not writing to say I currently take offense to this man handling, I just find the cavalier approach to be callous. 


Five: when I go the bar leaves with me


Remaining in the Hamburger Bahnhof instance there is one wall of group show within a group show. A Meta moment like Cervantes fiction within a fiction, or Shakespeare Play within a Play arraigned by that melancholic former resident of Elsinore. What in the Die Riegerungs Veirtel / The Forgotten Bar Project, is a quasi random selection of art works that were left behind in an artist initiative space. What happens on this wall with an almost archaic salon style horror vacui driven installed method many times until recent years vacant from contemporary art presentation, (look towards the Brucennial of the BHQF,for a this cramped overlapping method) the look is of the fragmentary, matter of fact, blending blurring variety in that it is could perhaps be the output of one mono-manic young artist who is hopped up on J. Beuys and the spirit of 1968.


It is more of a cross section of a cohort of more known names and personages of the Berlin or euro art landscape, not in our current state of globallity, exclusively European Union artists. We have Icelandic Pop artists stranded in Paris like Erró, Japanese conceptualists living in Manhattan like Yoko Ono, various professors of the German art Academies, John Bock, Katarina Sieverding, whom manages to exhibit with one of her spawn, Paula Sieverding, on the same wall, haphazard remnants, we are led to believe, from artists with gallery representations on both sides of the Atlantic ocean, a stark contrast towards, the newly minted or emerging talents that tend to clog the list of artists participating, yes of course there are some of the chosen artist who have represented their nations at one big ticket international Bienial, or another, but in the the Riegerungs Veirtel/ Forgotten Bar Project, we have some artists that are on permanent public display in their home countries, Art school tenured Faculty, and a select few like Yoko Ono who is as both John Lenon's widow and  conceptual artist, active in a 60's, post second World War Japan, a seminal member of that Avant Guard, Yoko Ono, is as close to a living legend as one could get, Ono, is presently often covered in art historical survey courses spanning the past 50 years in art making.



Six: Shelving for a movement


Strangely enough, yet another instance of exhibition within exhibition, occurs in a disparate, post-medium now commonplace ála R.E. Krauss, installation by artists collective, After the Butcher, that is thoroughly, conscientiously, and if not exhaustively credited, and meticulous, it is a portrait in its product design, typographic design, photo graphic design, and fine arts painting in as banal as you can get minimal tromp l'oie, behaving as simple text. The museums wall mounted standard flashcard sized A7, text of the exhibition completes and is subverted by, the framed behind glass, letter press printed movie credits or colophon more apt for the installation, which is eight framed photographs a wall of modular shelving, one oil on linen painting, and a beautifully framed print, all locally made.


Here we have a kind of playful artisanal minimalism that is clearly a byproduct of the connoisseur-ship or discerning taste inculcated by specialized advanced higher education at a design academy, a distant and polished vacuous advertisement not only for the singular authors of each part of this Gesamtkunstwerk, that is much more a display of locally active clientele dependant entrepreneurs who fabricate Gestaltobjekten. The work is sealed off in its own fragmentary studied happenstance, young-ish people on a bland blank scene barely coded as a "photo shoot" scenario are there, on set. The participants that are photographed, are taken and printed at unfamiliar disorienting angles, as if the photographer waited to capture some ones face with the telephoto lens as seen through, or beyond another person on set, in soft focus, who is not on the camera's plane of focus. The men could appear as clothed Kuroi updated with in one instance, Caucasian with super-long dreadlocks look, profoundly absorbed in the hurry up and wait alternating current that much of middle to high end "creative" labor entails these days.


After the Butcher's contribution, in the setting of the museum this installation is considered as one unit, or a totality, one work. Nevertheless it is clearly made of delineated discreet design components, named, described in one self-aware, self-reflective object, on card stock or, acid free archival paper. The object with the task of listing, that gives mention to the workshop where the diverse things were made, is authored by one of the interdisciplinary group inclusive of artist assistant, framer, and painter. Everything is presented in the stayed manor that would not be strange on a wedding invitation, mailed out by the parents of the bride, the un-hierarchical distinction-less listing of different members of the gænus of the creative caste are possible Bachelors if we are bring this into a Duchamp frame of thinking. We have overtly superficial objects pretending towards one cohesive work of art, rather than ready made (industrial object) and decisively silent artist, we have group conception (high-end elitist things) and willfully distant unit production manager.


Seven: rest in quietude


An artist duo, man, woman, Erik Blinderman, and Lisa Rave, with both private and public funding from that region of Germany that was at one time, a part of Denmark, have made a half-hour duration video loop that is a digital transfer from sixteen millimeter film, of a semi exotic tropical gated community founded by a man with the name Schwartz, on a tropical Island not too far off the shore of Florida.


The production team we shall presume was minimal, and at times, perhaps a veritable skeleton grouping, occasional during the mostly wordless film, we here the directions of a Anglo-phone or a Saxon voice, saying cut or play it again Sam, if you will what ever low to no budget flexible independent artist directed film/ producers choose to tell their cast of, non actors in, a cinematic work as The Villages, 2011, do. This work seeks to blur and reaffirm some kind of medium specificity that is perhaps a fetish of the initiated, texture and tonal expressive range of light in shadows of film stock opposed to manageability, accessibility and flexibility that video offers.


The look of film is dated, and the rosy hue of the Kodak, AGFA or Fuji color film stock, is perhaps to the strongly, ever increasing, technically cognizant alumni, of multiple film and television academies the world over, ascertainable from the look of the exposure and frame rate or the quality of the digital scan, apparent what kind of camera the duo utilized, brings to mind video aficionados who can tell between Sony High Definition and Panasonic High Definition. If you ask the question Bolex, or Arriflex, you may pass the gates and enter towards more multiple, and or but not exclusively formalistic readings, or viewings in this matter.


On a content level we have in the first frames a rather structured and detached holiday footage approach, rusting beached small fishing vessel in a warm climate, white folk of Eurasian descent fully clothed with hats and sunglasses snapping away at a trite or picturesque rusting utilitarian ship in the topics. The camera looks at these people looking and in the subsequent documentary, national geographic approach we a looking at banal, segment of a middle class, Former Veterans and American Service men women, filmed at a great distance, due to the paltry usage of close up footage, broad strokes, at if to say of look at these strange retired conformists! Spartan instances where close takes are used is to show a migrant or displaced African heritage worker, putting his break time, from his construction work of building the gated community, to a kind of purposeful and diligent free time activity, he carves a decorative bead out of a material that looks like ivory.


The Villages, as an experimental film, employs a clear rhetoric of occidental minimalism, which in many ways covers no new ground, just shows things like clues for some kind of unspoken visual argument.


Eight: A semi sonorous techno radio television fantasy station


A dypthic of liquid crystal display televisions leans side to side, next to one another, on the floor, against the white cube space, of NBK, Neue Berliner Kunstverien, in Berlin center city, yet another venue, for Based in Berlin, the same venue where the afore mentioned work The Villages is displayed.


The state of the art home entertainment panels, have long cables and headphones two again, so you can view 19:30, the work, of Aleksandra Domanovoc, as a pair, or if single with the abstract hope of attracting or flirting with whom ever pick up the head set as you watch or, to pick up the studio ear phones and share the viewing of the work with a stranger.


We have a work that is carefully negligent in its installation, just set those flat screens displays, on the floor over there why don't you. What is heard on the head set is electronica at a heart rate raising speed disco tempo, and seen at times on the flat screens is, voyeuristic found footage of young men with chemically tinted coiffures, gesturing isolated yet together, like an island chain, in some kind of an open space. A rave scenario, a kind of open style drug addled massive type of party, a youth culture phenomena, or is the raving set referred to as a subculture?


Baggy parachuting pants, glowing plastic objects, tight cotton infant tee shirts, candy colored jewelry all happen to be parts of more classic or standard of the Raver garb. 


This hip or trendy or niche set content behaves as camouflage as first impression for the remainder of the MTV or VIVA esque work, it is a genealogy of the identity in the meaning that the graphic designer applies to that word, of a group of regional television and radio stations in the Balkans. The changing of the look of the 30 second television spot from stations in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia Herzegovina are all historically presented in a vibrant, casual chaotic form, that may strike many viewers of the artwork, as informal and therefore dismiss the Aleksandra Domanovoc, as inchoate, but it, is in this impersonal archival presentation of obsolete television identities, and a counter drive with, a hermetic all so region and popular culture specific, both references retain, despite their all their periodic visibilities in a mainstream visual culture, a truly personal idiosyncratic selection process that is contrary  to a clinical showing of how communications stations in the former Yugoslavia, developed and altered their look, over the span of the nineteen fifties, until the present.


Aleksandra Domanovoc, as an artist makes an associative leap, that in some ways feels like a salve for some deep regional trauma, glossing over with techno music, the Balkans, and in the found television pan, of a pristine urban skyline on a sunny day, footage that has the look and taste of saturated Beta, or VHS tape, from the early nineteen nineties, the what of what footage is shown is rife with mystery, some kind of a didactic approach to the work is decidedly absent. It is perchance enough to raise awareness, or political committed enough, just to edit a video loop with found materials from the regional television stations from a place where ethnic cleansing and war rape transpired, not so long ago.  


Nine: people of the waste


In the same zone, from the physical address, common exhibition room, sameness genre, medium, and display method that is in one case the same and in the other different, we have urban blight and the economic crisis force feed back to us much in the way that K. Kolwitz might have, had she seen the films of Michigan born M. Moore, or knew how to operate a 3ccd iris high definition video capture device, to illustrate, the plight of people in Berlin. Nina Könneman, takes us___ with a pair of video works, Sommerleute, 2009, the ten minute duration sans soundtrack, full-wall projected, sixteen by nine wide screen format, and the smaller shorter four minute loop with a track, Kraft unseres Amtes,2011,____ to Berlin, Alexanderplatz.


No F. Beiberkopf, to be found here in either work, there is no Snautze with his hart on their shirt sleeve, rather we have a group of acutely aware scavengers who huddle around rubbish bins, in wait for that discarded plastic or glass bottle, to collect the Pfand some Grozschen for recycling, taking it to the point of occupation.


The antiseptic and distant woman documentarian, the moving images author, with video camera, a sensitive machine eye, looking at people who decide to hang around waiting for their plastic bottle to come in, whom are gazing and beholding the unaware public that drinks Römerquelle, Fanta or Sternberg, in the summer and lets go of their waste, has elected herself to pick a rather narrow path of documenting people in public who, depending on what the viewers proclivities might or may not appear, unsavory. Here are for the large part men who have their ungloved hands in the trashcans near that public square close to the base of Berlin's television tower, all day long.


I correct it is less the author that may be characterized as sanitary or hygienic, but rather with what means this updated version of socalisticaly committed realism comes into existence as an artwork, and as an object for public contemplation in the domain of current art exhibition. Video, a time based medium, technologically dependant, that as for the moment you cant touch, feel or smell. A. Huxley's sensation of the Feelie, a more real than real diversion, a group pornographic spectacle, where the public can "feel every hair on the bearskin rug" in his modern classic about brave worlds, has it, touch motion pictures is delegated to some distant future, going to the movies and having physical sensations which players on screen might have.


One may be thankful that the smello'vision, is not happening here, but as for hearing, that other, often overlooked sense, we do and can in the video loop from 2011. German-language rap rock fusion music is the track, the musicians are shamefully omitted from the museum wall plaque, oddly enough in the gallery or not for profit subsidized alternative art venue, as this video loop on flat screen with head phones is shown with more politically charged and societal damning themed works, at NBK. You could hope for a print out of the lyrics for the rap song on the wall or a name of the group that authored a rather progressive or forward thinking sub pop music, but this exhibition is in Berlin, Germany, and many Germans view Lyrik as something that the Greeks and Romans way back when, those ethnicity's were in labor pains of the rather big baby, of western civilization. I think that it compromises the meaning of the entirety of work, not to have this information, since, or as a courtesy for those viewers who are unused to hearing rap music, no less in German, viewers may have an intuition that the fast diction of the angry sounding young male, set to the beating cadence of hip hop, might be of some tangential importance to what is shown on screen. It stays a hunch. Yes subtitles in English in the picture plane might be heavy handed or overkill, all things considered a viewership remains un-blissfully ignorant of the works portent, the exhibition is titled rather decidedly, in the English language, what stands to reason for the lack of a translation of a wordy German passage in a video artwork presented to the target public of international art cognoscenti? Overwork? Time sensitivity? Desire not to have the Video artwork to look like displaced found material or a music video on VIVA? What the shorter more recent video shows us how an increasing number people some who don't look "ugly", two years since, the first longer meditation of scavenging poor in Alexanderplatz, are collecting the bottles and using the new red machines in supermarkets, to print out a bar code on a slip of paper for just how many Grozschen and Marks they receive for their abilities to find, collect and return their reusable waste.



Ten: avant-ante secondhand


Returning, to Montbijou Park, or to arrive at where in the park, with more accuracy, a scaffold platform four stories above the building housing that station of the exhibition, there is an artwork that proffers an inflated æsthetic of J. Koons in the late nineteen eighties of New York City. Titled (NAME OF WORKEHERE), by (NAMEOFARTISTNOW), is like the vast percentage of artworks shown in Based in Berlin, authored this year in lieu of this exhibition, it consists of: four midsized Jeeps, from a local car dealer ship, parenthetically bracketed fore and aft by floor mounted neon lights, surrounded in a loose circle by light weight ink jet printed on fabric hammock style, lounge lizard chairs, wobbly self supporting as they are made of formed metal conduit, painted white.


Of the cars: Many have seen cars before, Jeeps are notorious, in the green mindset, for their inefficient expenditure of fossil fuels, therefore, some hold that Jeeps are an extravagance in an urban stetting, ie: there is no need for four wheel drive on the cobbled streets of Berlin, and that people who purchase Jeeps are reprehensible, or worse greedy, because they fail to take heed of the uncomfortable truths that former Vice President, and Nobel læurate A. Gore, speaks about in his much acclaimed environmentalist documentary.  Four Cars.


Of the lights: A rather consitant display method that is now borrowing strongly, from 60's and 70's D. Flavin, to the Pre New series of Hoover Vacuüm cleaning solutions enshrined in plastic, of that bright sunny smiled Pennsylvanian, Jeff. This lighting system one could hope is a kind of site-specific surreal urbane commentary on the changing head space of Berliners, instead of wrapping an important dilapidated government building, now a days, artists elect to present illuminated Jeeps floating above the low rising buildings in the night sky of Berlin. Julian La Veridiere could perhaps eat his heart out because the light beam in night sky, that in his work is pensively brilliant, and award winning, a solution that addresses complex public issues with trauma and hope with ultra bright lights. Yet I strongly doubt that. La Veridiere, to my awareness does not hold a patent on electric light beamed in the nighttime, and in this instance we have (nameofartisthere) utilizing light to show people cars, all too quotidian, with out any healing power, a rather derivative, vacuuos, I hate to say it employment of lighting design.



Of the chairs: there are some graphic design colorful prints on chairs for people to rest and contemplate the cars, the chairs have a kind of computer program virtual flat texture, a ink jet decorative fuzz to them, yes they provide a functional usage, lounge chair, grouping of two or three to support discussions amongst one-selves. If your visit coincides just after an early summer thunder and showers micro storm, it rains a lot in Germany, than the lounges chairs are a flaccid dripping wet disappointment, the hammock cloth has not had the change to back in the sun an warm up for your fatigued through massive viewing of mega promoted group exhibition, via word of mouth the ultimate manna, of public relations.


Of the station: high up in the sky we have neither bird, plane, nor superman, we have four cars, one wishes for a symbolic allegorical reading but jeeps are not really harbingers of the end of days, like four horsemen, are they? Cars on a provisional scaffold, floating way up there and giving you a way up panoramic view of the quickly rejuvenating and cosmetically enhanced center city Berlin just a stones throw from the boutiques of Hakescher market a bottle neck of open air city as shopping mall. With all the candy colored and proliferation of graffiti and aerosol art, one hopes, that the heterogeneous club house, spunkyness persists, but alas, the German word for building renovation is in the English language, a false cognate evoking hygiene and waste management.  From the rather large perch with all the Jeeps and lounge chairs you may be so lucky as to see it happen.


Eleven: Urbi et Orbi

In the den of Kunst Werke, the same room that housed "architecture as hangover",(see my version of Cyprian Gillard) , we have after the conception of a west coast Canadian artist, Jeremy Shaw, a super slow ambient contemplative work, coupled with wry reappropriation, via the reissue, and reprinting of a Berlin, local and international cult Classic the film poster of die Kinder der Banhofzoo.


Footage from what appears a dance off of some kind of a suburban, stale and middle class version of middle class entertainment at its apogee, Hardcore or Emo sub culture. If you require a translation to the jargon, moshpit, then chances are you will be left frustrated by this sensitive elegy in the form of two channeled extra large video projection on free standing walls, of some of youth in today's British Columbia. There are some tentative attempts and false starts at crowd surfing, lots of flailing arms and slow motion posturing that in the big expanse of the video work, all this set to ambient Brian Eno-esque wordless music composed by the artist.


Central video work of a fictive concert crowd dancing, poster action that spirals out virulently over the fabric of Berlins urban environs. The Vatican here in this conceit is one of personal-freedom. It is at hand, momentarily over the duration of the exhibition, and more or less in tapestry of divergent memories of spectators who viewed it. The arms extending out, are pervasive, meaningless advertisement for the re release of a cult classic insider film with the man who fell to earth depicted, seventies style with an German actress playing a pubescent Heroinista, Bowie in that film sings his Tutoneciszed edition of Helden, nothing can keep these two parts of the work of Jeremy Shaw together. 


 Twelve: give us your huddles


Two fingers a thumb, and a part of the eternal flame of liberty and the nub of the torch, recreated to scale by Vietnam born, Danish childhood, Yet Frankfurt am Main trained artist Danh Vo, the Fredricanium in Kassel shall host a more completed edition of this big budget recreation of one of the acme of Franco-America relations, that gift for the centennial of that civil engineering feat, and allegory of inspiration the lady in brown who with time became the lady in green that greeted and still greats so many who make that passage to Ellis island.  After a photograph the structure skin, we have Lady Liberty redeaux, and in that recreation of a forward looking moment of the celebration of ideals and diplomacy that the United Stats held in common with France, the work evocative, and a charged work begging for reëxamination of those ideals, let us say the hand of lady Liberty is re staged, as a concession stand and meeting point for the Based in Berlin, I don't know about you guys but the gift that France gave the states was about freedom, I suppose we as a global culture are at a new era of personal freedoms were artists born in Phu Quoc, and Based in Berlin, can flatly trivialize historical international diplomatic symbolic gifts, in the service of "give me a international artist curriculum vitæ or give me death" drive, the catalogue is quick to mention that this work will be shown in Kassel at one of the institutions of the Doccumenta, some how this historical temporary post-modern acceptance of rather trite conventional forms for current, up to date artistic expression: allegory, is crass in Hessen that western state of the Bündesrepublik that tore down a Brutalist stair case to nowhere, from a previous Doccumenta in the middle of the night because it simply looked or smelled bad. The hand of lady liberty re staged temporarily is ok.


Thirteen: shred of architecture


German born Kitty Kraus one of the other young artist contenders for the 2011 edition of the Berlin Art Award, has made a Berlin specific minimalistic, ironic and wry sculpture that in the choice of materials, found urban detritus, smacks of Gordon Matta Clark the vernacular building splitter, son of the South American painter and architect Roberto Matta. But with Kitty Kraus's sculpture in KW, a section of ground floor window shade, that hangs from the grey woven nylon band, part of the mechanism that helps the complete and utilitarian version work when installed in a window, the sense of humor and appreciation for the quotidian, has a more subtle, nevertheless tougher vibration. In other words, the hanging fragment of window shade, that is old, grey, and soot covered, is part of the changing cosmetic appearance of Berlin, it looks incomplete. One could have the same critique of the fragmentary nature of a piece or remnant of G. Matta-Clark's office baroque, and like works where parts of commonplace low-end architecture are cut up humorously, but in Krauss's sculpture, the mode of presentation is more lyrical, hanging bending resting on the verge of collapse on the floor, and less sensationalistic and cult of personality driven, cleaving a suburban home in two with a chainsaw, as G. Matta-Clark does for a kind of wild man with a brilliant idea and a loud sounding cutting tool, affect.


The work hangs from a nylon band, and in the sculptures hanging, elegant installation solution as it is, it is a far cry from how a painting would hang. Although blatant and matter of fact as this point may seem, this work is not pleasant to look at, its ugliness is both reserved and aggressive at the same time. Super minimal finding undertaken by Kitty Krauss, the careful sawing of the metal retractable nighttime safety shade, and showing hard-edged abstraction hanging limply from the ceiling curling on to the floor.


A work that is both succinct and relevant. All too current view of many-things both German, and Berlin it happens to be one of the rare instances in this exhibition where Berlin specific sculpture bears some progressive development in a genealogy of post war, brilliant German artists who happen to be women working with physically tough three dimensional objects things that are decidedly a bit more substantial and difficult than a revanch of macho expressionist painting.


Fourteen: distressed Canvass


Anne Neukamp, has the most substantial paintings in this exhibition. In terms of size, the paintings could be placed on the mid spectrum of large vertically oriented rectangular format. The linen is stretched over a lightweight thin wooden support. The work is a moment that although authored by a young woman from Germany who viewers should hope, as I do, is now at the start of a productive life as a relevant painter, makes work that give late B. Marden, snakes in a bag type works, a run for his money, I put it this way because Brice, has a strong evening sales presence and career survey, held in top floor galleries of the new building of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, on his exhibition curriculum vitæ, one could presume that as an artist he has a great deal of it by now.


The activity of sanding the surface of the oil paint, as Anne Neukamp, does working a H. Hoffman push pull, but with desaturated grey zone colors that in their understated curvy geometric abstraction viewed in the light of the pervasive ubiquity of ærosol on building, or kinetic Schnelbahn cabin, retain tangential cues thereof. Anne Neukamp and her paintings are so much, the more sensible and considered, contrary yet holding some of that short term territorial immediate gratification, often found of Spray-paintings in Berlin. Some hold that Spray Painters have similar drives, that an artist living and working as Dog with the medium of urine on Parisian lamppost does. How the latter can with many generations of like canine effort, and the same action, pissing, have a damaging corrosive effect, that compromises the structural integrity of cast iron public street lighting, so much for your precious wiederstand.


This series of paintings is, by far, the most conclusive, mature, solid and therefore complete painted artwork in the exhibition.


Fifteen: Le weïrdo amercain


There is a love of spots and hermetic fashion design and semiotic code and, to many Europeans, a Slugger from Louisville might sound like a provincial America (no offence Louisville) who derives pleasure from fisticuffs, not a sculpted wooden hallmark of a North American childhood spent on sporting events. One could hope a Japanese would appreciate the work with an appropriate measure of reverence and nostalgia, since 1945, they really seem to enjoy Baseball big time.


The relative un-intelligibility of this artwork in the North European context is a quizzical anathema. I doubt that Ryan McLaughlin enjoys coming across as a regional artist, seeing as He has his art training in Rhode Island, and is still making art works, one can be almost positive that McLaughlin is adept at verbally defending, and elucidating the heritage and plausible cultural heritage of his work.


I see, a patchwork of white and cotton tee shirts, hanging like pægent flags from base ball or softball bats, which ever your sports orientation, mounted above head-level, in a celebratory moment that brings cotton, folk art via the quilting of the shirts, and invented sports, that speak of the wide open plans and continental unit of the U.S.A. Baseball is perhaps the quintessence of the States a sport with strong hetero coding, and possible Homo fetish that many would never ever dign to talk of, especially not on the Fox news channel G** forbid, an expansive Tiered, Dual Major Leagues, that support or encourage fandom and merchandise industry, ephemera in the form of collectible cards with vitals and performance statistics that like and unlike stamps is the first archive or hoard if you will, a child in the United states more often male than female will have. And it is a rather odd prospect, the world plays Football America Soccer, the World Series is a cathartic male pægent type of event that transpires every-year, every base ball season, on American soil, and is the culmination of a long and drawn out tournament where the game is appears perpetually on tonight.  Un-like tennis, world class individual hermit athletes flying solo or in doubles, baseball is a team sport, and with its innings, at bat, bases and strikes and Umpires is a rather byzantine, coördinated group sport that is heavy on abstract thinking and light on physical contact, unlike the native American derived Lacrosse. As such baseball, like golf, has potential to be played by an entire U.S. family with Grandpa on Third and Stacy sliding into Home, after Mom bunted the fastball Dad pitched and scuttles off to first non Americans practically need a bluffer notes, to understand, no less ask who is on first?


Sixteen: no smoking please, in the canary cage


 In a work titled XXXXX by French born artist XXXXXXX, there is a stuffed toy teddy bear hanging from a chain of safety pins from a cross beam of a low-end pet store. As reason for why you would search for this frugal material moment of stuffed Bear suicide, in the first place is that, when entering the floor of, Kunst Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, where this exhibition is, you as a viewer see your image in real-time, moving projected off kilter on the wall, via what for recent generations accustomed to cosmopolitan life in the developed world, like London, via the security camera. The younger you are, perhaps the more acclimated you are to being flung into a big brother scenario, G. Orwell or television, take your pick, the quicker you find that the camera is in the eye of the hanging tan bear. Unobtrusive and yes, quizzical, a diorama that takes your picture and looks like a prank to boot.



Drawn closer to the work, by a hook of sorts, seeing yourself projected on the wall, you find that Panopticon Bear with Suicidal Tendencies, has a partner, a pair, in the form of another cage. Both cages are on low rising pedestals in this cage, we see a mechanical reproduction of a winter scene, of two Cowboys riding horses, no it is not a film still of Ang Li's film Brokeback Mountain, 2006 starring the lat Heath Leager and the talented Mr. J. Ghyllenhal, but rather two other men that look like they should be smoking. Rugged out doors on the floor of a birdcage cotton in the pose of cobwebs, as a reminder of what exactly? Refashioning of early pre Spiritual America, R. Prince, are when caged, spiderweb generative. Where there are spiders and cobwebs there is dust. Or it could be a reminder of a fairy tale of North American sexual intolerance and consumerism, via clear oral fixations and addictive habits, a nineteen 80's or 70's vintage advert for rolled and filtered tobacco. 


This is a kind of passive and false interactivity and although it titillates a healthy form of narcissism in the exhibition public as the look at this strange work and find them selves thrown skewed right back into its midst, we see that perhaps though on the other side of the cage and free to move about, our picture, or pictures in this case, have been taken by the hung bear. Our participation in this event is restricted by (name of artist) to public who views strange work, making for, yet one more moment of a candid camera scenario,


Ha-ha! I have caught you looking at my artwork!


Seventeen: look Mom no Hands!


Back in Montbijou park there is a process oriented work, authored by Trevor Llyod, that in the title of the work itself Portrait of my mother drawn with my eyes closed, left handed standing on my head, preëmptively tells you both how the work was created and gives a hint to a prevalent sensibly of this object heavy exhibition. Drawing when existent must tell an ironic, self-reflextive tall tale about the personal subjectivity of the artist. Anti drawing and anti Author hood are deliberately contradicted in the mea culpa for the thick handed monstrosity of graphite on paper the artist shows on the wall.


Funnyman antics of showing Mom as monstrosity, or oddly enough, humane and charming if you grew up in a place like the illustrated children's books of M. Sendak , it is a small almost derisive work in that as drawing it could be both claimed as after the fact per formative, and masterpiece of yet another man who takes A. Kaprow's  postulate of blurring art and life one step beyond.


However, the mother of the artist is presented to the public on an A4, in a work that confronts the assumption of the viewer as person in possession of little tolerance of  work that their own child could make. The work, as drawing on A4, contributes more in the way of heterogeneous diversity of artistic practices for the exhibition, it looks great as graphic design element, next to the "Hot Mamicita" from the cold north in Bike helmet and Sunglasses, or "Dr. Dre" on the posters concurrently pervading Berlin's streets.


Come see the show it is inclusive, of Nordic Blonds, Rap icons, and sardonic illustrations in pencil on paper.


Eighteen: coin club


David Hominal, in a series of small portable brown coins one and two Euro cents, we have modular, bad painting that is societal commentary on the current economical crisis. A Warhola, working with small, 50 x 50 cm, square formatted canvasses, minting his own money in studies with means of expressionistic-realist formulaic painting authored by the hand of the painter, instead of squeezed through a silken screen with a squeegee in the hands of a trusted rotating door of inter-changeable assistants. It is not a an over blown middle format painting of the might Five Hundred Euro Bank note that we see, or lots of real paper money, reflective of the paintings relative price glued to a surface of a canvass, like in work of Norwegen Born artist, J. Christiansen, These paintings could be seen as sensitive or insensitive portrait of the kind of money that many can be conditioned to find an inconvenienced, a minor annoyance. Coin police, as some one close to me likes to call them, asking if you may perhaps have one or two euro cents, Vellicht? Which is rather characteristic occurrence of Berlin, which is resolutely, a cash not plastic, capital.


It is not hard to follow that the paintings that David Hominal, showed with their melding of expressionism, crisis commentary, money and portability on that all to hallowed ground of pigments suspended in linseed oil on woven duck or Belgian Linen, is adroit and let us say poised for capture in this group exhibition that for all its controversy and big budget art works is more of the Biennial track works and less for the private Wünderkammer of those people who love are and frequent Berlin and who still have wherewithal and a budget for their respective climate adjusted warehouses, and storage spaces.




The exhibition, Based in Berlin, is chaotic, for the large part it exposes an overwhelming majority of unfinished artworks to a confused public, duly ignorant.


Based in Berlin, is a Multi venue morass, that seemingly novel in its selection and commissioning of new artwork, remains grounded in nineteenth century central European, traditions of display for modern art, the salons of Paris, held in the Louvre, and their ensuing controversy. Big Exhibitions that are spoken of, parodied and deemed events are distinct by-product of pretension of a State for the title of World or occidental capital, by generating and supporting the arts, to appear central.


The individual artists, the representative artworks that are discussed in the above report, range on spectræ of finished-ness, derivation and last but not least thereof, quality.


Finished-ness could be measured against final intent and communicative purpose, of the artwork in the mind of the artist. The current presentation as brought to bear against the wish of the artist.


Derivation is asserted by comparing sources, or styles that individual artists self elect to work with. Granted, there many directions this can go, the one that has concerned me in this report, however is to what extent is the clarity of the quotation marks that bookend the artists selected source material. How apparent is the working method an extension of another artist's Gimmick of the twentieth century?


Quality is for me, at the moment of writing this; and when judging, as with this exhibition, artwork fabricated by artists so soon after an arts academy education, a compound of Finished-ness, measure of Derivation, and of course that increasingly rare instance when an artwork is made with a high percentage of the artist Her or His selves. Fomulæc approach for algebraic curatorial practices. by craniv boyd. 

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