When in 2008 Albert Oehlen was asked why he had recourse to fragments of advertising posters in his new paintings, he answered: “I wanted emotions! At some points, I had to admit to myself that my approach to art was a bit sober. […] At the same time, I’d always wanted to do Pop Art, big, colourful things with immediate appeal.” (Interview by Max Dax, in: Albert Oehlen 1991-2008 Galerie Max Hetzler and Holzwarth Publications, Berlin, 2008). The ‘trashiness’ of the advertisements is now all over the picture. Simultaneously, the compositions are all evocations of interieurs (interiors), playing with shapes and textures of furniture elements, but also with architecture and perspective, as well as with characters’ silhouettes. There is an obvious ambiguity between figuration and abstraction, produced by the contrast between the imagery of the advertisements and the new picture created. These new large-scale works by Albert Oehlen will be presented in the exhibition Interieurs at the gallery’s new space in Bleibtreustraße 45, Berlin-Charlottenburg.
Citizens across Europe are currently taking the initiative to re-appropriate urban space. A group of neighbours transforms wasteland into public space. Garden plot owners open their grounds to unemployed youths to test their small-scale business ideas. Communities are becoming patrons where they were once supplicants. Identified as “We-Traders” they redefine the relation between value, profit and public good and are able to motivate fellow citizens to follow suit. They respond to crisis in several arenas of urban life, be it economic, social or ecological and diffuse the boundaries between buyers and sellers: consumers become co-producers. Through interactive forums, workshops and exhibitions the project connects initiatives by artists, designers, architects and activists from Lisbon, Madrid, Toulouse, Turin and Berlin, where the current crisis manifests different facets from empty coffers and social polarisation to a lack of civic sense as a result of excessive growth.
Jeremy Shaw’s work explores altered states of consciousness and the cultural and scientific practices that aspire to, or attempt to map, transcendental experience. Often involving the documentation of physical and ritualistic activities of subculture, his videos, photographs, and installations offer propositions around the translation of experiences often considered untranslatable. In the exhibition Variation FQ, Jeremy Shaw premieres his latest work – a 16mm film that places the transgender vogue dancer, Leiomy Maldonado, within the aesthetics of Norman McLaren’s 1968 ballet film, “Pas de deux”.
Variation FQ seduces and confronts the viewer with the beguiling force of Leiomy Maldando’s highly dramatic and evolved voguing performance. Voguing is a primarily black and Latino, gay dance subculture that began in New York in the late 1960’s, and in spite of minor mainstream recognition, remains largely marginalized. Using high contrast black and white, step-and-repeat effects, and an original soundtrack composed by Shaw himself, the film amplifies and extends the unique, cathartic movements the protagonist’s dance, both graceful and violent. Variation FQ is a study of the co-evolution of subculture, gender, dance, and special effects.
WINTER, the Central Asian Pavilion, unfolds its concept through six artistic positions and discursive statements, staged in the Pavilion by artists from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The site-specific installation ‘Breathe Quietly’ by Vyacheslav Akhunov originates in a sketch from 1976 as an unrealised public monument, satirically reflecting the culture of intimidation and state propaganda at the time. By exhibiting this piece today, the artist invites viewers to see the present situation in Uzbekistan, through the lens of the Soviet period. Other works, such as Saodat Ismailova’s double projection video, Zukhra and Aza Shade’s film ‘The Disappearing City’ explores the role of women in contemporary Central Asia, where tradition still plays a major role.
Ikuru Kuwajima’s photographic series ‘Astana Winter Urbanscapes’ and Kamilla Kurmanbekova & Erlan Tuyakov’s site-specific installation ‘Zhol’, explore the field of architecture, as being subject to appropriation by ideology. Kuwajima documents the recent architectural developments in Astana, while Kurmanbekova & Tuyakov re-interpret the classic yurt into an architectural installation and transitory passage. Sergey Chutkov & Anton Rodin’s collaborative project ‘Letters from Tajikistan’ was made possible through an open call for letters across a broad strata of Tajik society, resulting in a semantic map of Tajik and Central Asian realities. The Pavilion opened to the art world during the preview of the Biennale di Venezia, with the discussion forum ‘Perspectives Beyond Stagnation’, organized in partnership with LIAF (Lofoten International Art Festival). Invited guest speakers, Gopal Balakrishnan and Aaron Schuster addressed issues relating to themes of exhibition, such as the convolutions of capitalism, transgression and constraint.
“You can make anything in your life a wunderthing – a wunderchair, wundercar.
It’s a little bit like a magic stick.
It’s not a sculpture, it’s not a painting, it’s something else.”
Furniture, by its very nature, is a practical form, defined by its character and functionality. In his new exhibition Raumbilder (Spatial Pictures), Sven Temper presents his latest works, unique takes on ordinary household furniture, rendered here in everyday wood and mass produced materials. The show at gallery Hans-Peter Jochum sets his particular usages through an array of sideboards, tables, chairs, shelves, as well as multiple new takes on the armchair. The title of the exhibition refers to both the material as well as the social connotations of space, its physical and social impact and how social spaces are constructed through communication and/or action.
Discovering art in gallery spaces and gaining insight into the contexts of its production: with some 51 participating galleries, Gallery Weekend Berlin constitutes an exquisite art experience. The range of galleries also offers a panoramic view of an art city which holds special significance within the art world, and which serves as a production place for many internationally acclaimed artists. Hereby it focuses explicitly on the gallery space as a quasi-condensed version of the art world: as the singular place where art making and art market, but also exhibiting and viewing art, coexist so closely together.
The exhibition Culture:City encourages everyone to think consistently about the future of our cities and takes a critical eye to the relationship between architecture and the social reality of the 21st century, showing the impact of art and culture on cities and architecture. The selection of international examples presented – ranging from spectacular architectural and art projects, via the creative reuse of empty buildings and city areas, through to citizens’ initiatives – opens up a panorama of constructed concretisation of culture thus allowing us not only to take stock of the surroundings but also to evaluate and assess each individual case.
Does the social, cultural and architectural rootedness in the city work and does this lead to new forms of cultural production? Or does the construction project merely represent a symbol strong on marketing, yet another island in a city’s public spaces characterised by increasing fragmentation?
The debate thus triggered in the exhibition, curated by Matthias Sauerbruch, is continued in the form of lectures, film screenings, concerts, sound installations and conferences a.o. with Jacques Herzog, Peter Cook, Patrick Bouchain, Peter Eisenman, Selgas Cano Arquitectos a.o. to Berlin.
Two Younger Women Come in and Pull out a Table surveys the multifaceted strand of painting in the artist’s tremendous body of work. A decade of large-scale works on canvas will be on view alongside site-specific interventions in different mediums: voluminous polystyrene objects, textile accumulations, oversized balloons and the walls of the museum are all used as carriers of images.
The factory hall of the former wool mills, which forms the kern of the exhibition, is taken up by an extensive, color-intensive installation. Bunches of grapes, made out of large PVC and latex balloons, and measuring four meters in size float under the historical ceiling construction. This gigantic labyrinth corresponds with the towering laminated polystyrene objects that occupy the museum’s entrance hall. The sheer magnitude and structure of these bodies render it impossible to capture the work in its entirety from a singular point of view. Here, seeing necessarily implies movement in space.
In a temporary exhibition space on the historic Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin, Peres Projects is presenting Gay Town – a solo project with James Franco. Exploring a variety of themes central to the artist’s practice, Gay Town is devoted to issues related to adolescence, public and private persona, stereotypes and other societal concerns such as society’s preoccupation with celebrity. James Franco created many of the artworks in hotel rooms, makeshift studios and other temporary locations whilst completing other projects, mainly motion picture work. Working across media including painting, drawing, film, sculpture, installation and photography, Franco elects the media that best fits the project rather than committing to a sole artistic practice.