After leaving its home in Kassel for a few months, documenta has moved to Athens for the first part of its 14th iteration, and we were there to experience its multifarious program sprawling across museums, cinemas, residential spaces, pavements and even radio stations and kiosks, to name a few of the locations. Four years in the making, under the working title “Learning from Athens”, one of the topics addressed in documenta 14 is the meaning of education and its reconstitution through the works of more than 160 international artists. Following the press conference opening featuring a cacophony of all participating artists and members of the team onstage, the artistic director Adam Szymczyk encapsulated this year’s approach: “Unlearning what we believe we know is the beginning. There are no masters that can tell us how to live or what to do. We are in need to mobilize energies and act through unlearning. As we abandon preconceptions, and some of our hopes too, we immerse in the darkness of now knowing. And only from that state can we then make small steps towards something different.” More than a couple of times we were urged to “get lost” in the city, fully experience the public realm and embrace the peripatetic manners of ancient Greek philosophers. Among numerous spaces and places, the program took us from the impressive building of the Athens Conservatoire built in the ‘50s as a vision of central European rationalism, to the former brewery housing the National Contemporary Art Museum, to the Polytechnion – an emblem of historical resistance, to a pavement inscribed with Samuel Beckett’s poetry, and a kiosk turned into an electronic music station on a picturesque plateia. Sound has indeed a prominent role in the program and is an essential part of its impact. Sonic elements are dispersed throughout, whether as protagonists or as discreet additions permeating the visual spectrum; appearing announced or other times fully conquering your headspace. It often felt like this year’s documenta should be heard more than seen.
As April 9th marked the first day of the 1,850-mile journey on horseback to Kassel starting from the side of the Acropolis, we also anticipate the second part of documenta and the evolution of this ‘continuum’.
Vestido Cobra. Photo: Edgar Aguirre © Carla Fernández / Border-City © FR-EE
With the aim to stimulate discussion on the social dimensions of design, the 4th edition of the Design Display series at Autostadt Wolfsburg (Konzernforum) takes Mexico as its main point of departure. Inside the exhibition’s characteristic 20-metre-long glass display, an intercultural bridge between Mexico and the US is figuratively built through two contemporary designer projects. On the one side is Vestido Cobra, a dress created by Mexican fashion designer Carla Fernández who explores how fashion can uphold traditions and still point the way to the future. By bringing Mexican styles and manufacturing techniques into contemporary fashion, she draws attention to the cultural heritage of her homeland within a modern context. The unisex “snake dress” questions gender roles and embraces craftsmanship. On the other side of the glass display is a multimedia installation dealing with the US-Mexican border by architect Fernando Romero. Conceived as an ideal metropolis with multiple urban centres, Romero’s Border City is a bi-national future city designed to straddle the controversial border, serving as a model for new cities around the world. Romero’s visionary project explores the potential to create organized growth and multiple urban centres in sprawling regions lacking infrastructure.
The exhibition’s accompanying magazine On Display continues the discussion through features on the work of the two participating designers, a detailed piece about the border area between Mexico and the United States, and an essay on the influence of traditional craftsmanship on modern Mexican design.
Anton Unai for The Power of the Arts © Philip Morris GmbH
As an active response to the social challenges of our times, a new creative initiative advocates for the seamless integration and inclusion of people with a refugee and migration background in Germany through the arts, music, theater, and dance. One in five people in Germany have a migratory history, two-thirds of which belong to the first generation. We don’t always celebrate the same festivities. We don’t always speak the same language. We don’t always believe in the same deity. But it’s undeniable that the world of the arts can act as an equalizing and unifying resource, and that’s the direction we should be moving towards to. With The Power of the Arts initiative, launched by the Philip Morris GmbH, each year an independent jury selects four winning projects, awarded with 50,000 euros each, put forward by non-profit institutions and creative artists. All participants use numerous artistic disciplines to endorse social and cultural equality as well as deeper understanding among individuals. What serves as the main purpose of the initiative is to encourage an open, interculturally shaped society that leaves no room for discrimination and marginalization. Creativity and people’s abilities are invested in coexistence and collaborative progress.
Project submissions and information on the call for applications from 27 March until 9 June 2017.
Photos: Robert Rieger
The Grill Royal family has teamed up with artist Rirkrit Tiravanija and chef Dalad Kambhu for their latest restaurant, Kin Dee. Here, contemporary Thai cuisine is served family style – dishes such as whole fried fish or beef stew are plated to share among several people. Lemongrass, kaffir lime, wild ginger, galangal, curcuma, coriander or red chili are essential ingredients. However, whenever possible, the chef and her international team substitute imported products with regional ones from her network of local suppliers. This leads to a modern interpretation of Thai food without sacrificing flavor: sweet apple in place of mango, yellow turnip in place of Asian sweet potato, or pickled kohlrabi in place of papaya. Located in Schöneberg, Kin Dee inherits the former space of the restaurant Edd’s. Out of respect for its history, only small changes and refurbishments have been made to the space. One new addition, though, is the artwork that hangs in the dining room: some of these pieces were created by co-owner Tiravanija, and other were made by artist friends.
Placed on a high pedestal at the heart of Frankfurt Alt-Sachsenhausen’s new bar Bonechina is a night-blue, porcelain elephant. Coincidentally, it is also your bartender: tonic water splashes from its mouth. Guests are invited to mix their own drinks, gathering around the sculpture to fill their cups, choose between a sandalwood or Vetiver aromatic ice cube, possibly exchange some names and stories. Developed by the Lindenberg Group, Bonechina is less of a bar than what a bar may dream of. Absent are the bartenders (though two hosts are present to prepare drinks if desired), and gone are the counter, the stools. With a visual concept designed by Studio Aberja, the whole interior glimmers across ceramic tiles called Frankfurter Fliese, diamond-cut and painted in the same shade of blue as the elephant-fountain. The blue continues onto the curtains and upholstery, and above the light limbs of pear-wood furniture, aromatic diffusers let out puffs of yuzu and bergamot throughout the evening. With all of this housed inside a baroque building from the wooden-shingled 18th century, the 20 lucky guests for a night at Bonechina may start to think they’re dreaming too.
Photos: Steve Herud
Galerie Berinson newly housed in an apartment of a historic Gründerzeit building in Charlottenburg. Gonzalez Haase AAS, which designed the interior of the former gallery in Kreuzberg, has travelled west with them. With its parquet floors, stucco-work molding around the ceilings, and a pre-modern floorplan, the new venue is a radically different space than Berinson’s open loft-format from before. To contrast the old-fashioned feel, the architects have remodeled the space with a sense of rigor, simplicity, and clarity. All the built-in walls that weren’t a part of the building’s load-bearing structure were removed, creating an even circulation through the gallery. At the head of its main hallway is an office space with an exposed storage area; along the hall’s other side are entrances to the three exhibition spaces. In line with the architectural concept, the original connections between these exhibition rooms – double doors in the middle of the walls – have been closed up and replaced by neutral openings. Finally, a system of cool lighting from bold, metallic track fixtures is installed in strict parallel to the main axis of the apartment, two in the hallway and two running through the exhibition rooms. These additions are of a characteristic style for Gonzalez and Haase, and serve to unify Galerie Berinson’s new home: the fixtures become a part of the architecture itself, separating and organizing space through their form, size and design.
Adam Pendleton: A woman on the train asks angela davis for an autograph, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery, New York / IF THE FUNCTION OF WRITING, 2017, detail. Courtesy the artist and Galeria Pedro Cera, Lisbon
Adam Pendleton‘s multi-disciplinary practice engages with language and the reframing of history, and he follows Hanne Lippard as the second of three artists to present exhibitions reflecting on the work of Ian Wilson. Beginning his practice as a painter, Wilson increasingly took on communication, abstraction, and the nature of knowledge as subjects, and used dialogue as a form. As a response, Pendleton stages an intervention to the entire third floor of KW. Cutting across the exhibition space is a diagonal wall, across which is printed the first sentence of Ron Sillman’s poem “Albany” – “If the function of writing is to ‘express the world.’” This statement, or question, is met with an arrangement of posters, collages, and other archival materials from Pendleton’s practice, pasted in successive layers and constrained to a black-and-white palette. And Wilson’s voice is present in the midst: shot him in the face includes one of his monochromatic paintings, with which the artist aimed for producing an object devoid of referential content and touching true abstraction. As part of KW’s The Weekends agenda, three of Pendleton’s film works will also be showing at the Babylon cinema. All showcase Pendleton’s focus on the themes of portraiture, artistic exchange, and methods of representation – filmic and otherwise.
WE (we are not successive), 2015. Courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery, New York
Yonezawa, »Directional Robot«, 1957. Private collection. Photo: Andreas Sütterlin
When science fiction scenarios are applied to reality: How is robotics changing our lives and what is design’s role within that spectrum? As these technological advancements have found their way into our everyday environs, design has a central responsibility in this process, for it is designers who shape the interfaces between humans and machines. The exhibition Hello, Robot at the Vitra Design Museum examines the current robotics boom from the scope of various disciplines in extensive detail for the first time. Comprising more than 200 exhibits, the exhibition includes robots used in the home, in nursing care, and in industry as well as computer games, media installations, and relevant examples in films and literature. Through this sweeping analysis, the show broadens our awareness of the associated ethical, social, and political issues that arise. As our environment is becoming ever smarter and more autonomous, Hello Robot initiates a necessary discussion on how design cultivates the relationship between human and machine. Accompanying the exhibition, an extensive programme of talks, films, performances, and workshops further illuminates the topic in question from a number of different perspectives.
Shawn Maximo, »Going Green«, Vinylprint 2016 © Shawn Maximo / TRNDlabs, »SKEYE Nano 2 FPV Drone«, 2015 Fernsteuerung und Nano-Drohne © TRNDlabs
Hanne Lippard, Flesh, 2016, installation view KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Courtesy the artist and LambdaLambdaLambda, Prishtina, Photo: Frank Sperling
The reopening of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art is marked by a series of exhibitions reflecting on the work of South African artist Ian Wilson, who explores spoken language as an art form and places great emphasis on dialogue. In Wilson’s non-tangible practice, language morphs into the quintessential vehicle for communication and knowledge. To highlight the importance of his objective in relation to the role of language, three selected artists have been invited to concentrate on different aspects of his artistic output and use them as inspiration for the production of new work. First in line to delve into the topic is Norwegian artist Hanne Lippard with the immersive installation Flesh that takes Wilson’s Statements and Circle Works as its point of departure. Lippard’s physical piece—a spiral staircase leading to a platform—incorporates the artist’s voice which completely encompasses the audience and opens up a world in which ourexperience of language as pure voice is further investigated. Maintaining Wilson’s oeuvre as a guiding framework, Lippard’s exhibition will be followed by artists Adam Pendleton and Paul Elliman.
Ian Wilson, Circle on the floor (Chalk Circle), 1968, unlimited edition, Courtesy the artist and Jan Mot; Ian Wilson, The Pure Awareness of the Absolute / A Discussion, 2014, Courtesy der Künstler und Jan Mot, Brüssel, Loan: Jan Mot, Brüssel; installation view KW Institute for Contemporary Art, 2017, Photo: Frank Sperling