Monday, October 24, 2011

Olaf Metzel, 13.4.1981 Spreespeichern Berlin-Friedrichshain. by craniv boyd.

Olaf Metzel, 13.4.1981 Spreespeichern Berlin-Friedrichshain. by craniv boyd.

Heaps of over-large red white and grey barricades tower over individuals visiting the Universal Records Office building in Berlin. Barricades are only recognizable: when the watcher, of this approximately eight meters tall sculpture in metal and stone, by German artist  Olaf Metzel, knows what 1980's vintage Berlin police crowd control systems&solutions look like. 

The artwork is a jumbling stack of crowd hindrance objects that are, at my guess twice their original size. The stack is made of modular parts, with the chaotic shopping cart with a stone in it thrown in at the top for good, counter-culture measure.  Surrounding the work that rests on the scenic banks of the spree river between two tall office buildings, are numerous rocks and chunks of formed concrete, smooth rubble left overs and remnants to sit and take your lunch out of doors or have your cigarettes with your coffee, weather permitting. The work is visible from the southern riverbank. Looking north from, what is still Kreuzberg, you can now peer over to what was, at one time in recent history, East Berlin, in the German Democratic Republic and see an impressive art work that it a deceptive and coy fooling of the eyes. The work when contemplated is both haphazard and organized in one fell swoop, because it model after photograph of protest.

Olaf Metzel created a statue, that bears the title 13.4.1981. The title of the artwork is a date. A day in a year that, to many, may still seem recent history. A unfamiliar date, with day preceding the month followed by the year, is cryptic, banal, insignificant and arbitrary. What national holiday falls on that day? Which kind of historically momentous occasion warrants the paean from Metzel in the form of mimetic overblown sculpture true to the forms, of both shopping cart, and crowd hindrance apparatus? The artwork that was originally made for a commemorative exhibition celebrating 750 years of Berlin city life, could perhaps be viewed as a celebration of all things Berlin, tumult and all. 

The art work is a permanent recreation of a oppositional protest that took place, some  30 years hence. It joins the ranks of the numerous, Denkmahl or Mahnmal, that populate the urban fabric of current Berlin today. Artworks given the at times pedantic task, to never let people forget, remind them of... in this case a protest in Kreuzberg a municipal district that was at one time, a hot bed for both migrant workers from Turkey and house occupants who took empty apartment complexes that people bought in long term speculation.

To adopt a cynical point of view, I argue that, 13.4.1981, is established art pretending like it is still hasty rebellion.  Placed abutting the office building of a record label who's bread and butter is youth culture, Metzel's art now possesses a look of: firmly rooted acceptable youth movement. 

Rebellion and youth movements in Berlin turn into, the sustenance and much needed inspirational nourishment of many belonging to a "creative" cast. The advertising agency, or the marketing firm, and all those in their employ haunting for the constant and fickle thousand-faced muse of ├╝bercool. That cast which subsume forces of creation at the grass roots level, to turn profit, and fill coffers of record executives and of course the respective trunks of an ever increasing bevy of vaguely talented recording arts talent.

Look a like  protest structure art work,  despite being large and ominous artwork, remains nevertheless fun to climb. Adult children enjoy the creature comforts, having reached the top to the art work by leaving their empty bottles of Beck's Bremen beer on the high up net-like components of the individuated barricade units. Not to worries the, unstable in appearance only, adult adventure playground situation facilitated by the climbable sculpture by Olaf Metzel, is both climb at your own risk and firmly fixed to the ground. by craniv boyd.

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