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’.
With its grilled seafood, top-quality steaks and extensive champagne list, Grill Royal has long been a fixture on the Berlin fine-dining scene. Since opening Pauly Saal in the Former Jewish Girls’ School in 2012, and Dóttir in the Mitte district three years ago, the founders: Stephan Landwehr, Boris Radczun and Moritz Estermann, have opened their fourth venture, which has 50 seats and is under the direction of Jeanne Tremsal. Their first venture in the West – Le Petit Royal is located in leafy Charlottenburg at Grolmanstrasse 59, on the ground floor of a Wilhelminian period building with large windows, wooden floors and a winding guest room. The dominant style of the restaurant is mid-century, with many of the tables custom made to fit in the intricate spaces of the building. Rubelli fabrics and the use of oak create a sense of Italy, while cabin swinging doors, bespoke wardrobes and a walk-in wine cabinet holding nearly 500 international wines ensure a classic European feel. The menu offers Grill Royal classics mixed with French elegance – dishes of fresh fish from the Baltic Sea, seafood, oysters, and modern interpretations of French classics such as coq au vin are on offer, all of which is complemented by an extensive wine catalogue. The restaurant’s collection of contemporary art, which includes a wall piece by Karl Holmqvist, a drawing by Yves Saint Laurent and a large sculpture by Yngve Holen is also a highlight.
Childhood gang and gastro trio Oskar Melzer, James and David Ardinast’s latest food venture in Berlin’s Kreuzberg is the third diner named after a member of the Kosher Nostra. Louis Pretty mixes walnut-wooden e15 chairs, pink padded sofas and swimming pool-blue tables – for a contemporary spin on Palm Springs modernism. The menu is a Jewish-American fare and the dishes are to the point whilst still referencing traditional recipes. Head chef Joey Pasarella’s signature dish is a brisket that’s cured for a month, smoked, cooked and marinated to create pastrami that is served in different versions, such as on rye with gherkin and slaw. There’s a further selection of sandwiches, to matzah ball soup, salad with roasted cauliflower, chickpeas and a harissa dressing plus homemade desserts such as New York cheesecake with blueberry coulis. American diner-style filter coffee and lemonades are offer and a selection of wines and long drinks can take you into the evening. Everything can be ordered to go or eat in, for breakfast, lunch or dinner and a catering service is offered, so that classic Americana can be tailored to every event.
As the population increases so has our need to understand the architecture that caters to this – Nuno Cera is an artist known for this surveillance of urban development, and this can be seen in his multi-channel video installation Symphony of the Unknown, currently on show at the Kunstraum Botschaft, a new venue founded by the The Portuguese Embassy and the Camões Institute. Fascinated by the complexities and relationships between architectural clusters, the film captures the original visionary forces, utopian ideas and the unknown vertigo qualities of three post-war architectural complexes: Les Espaces d’Abraxas (Ricardo Bofill + Taller de Arquitectura, 1978-1983, Noisy-le-Grand, France), Barbican (Geoffry Powell, Peter Chamberlin + Christof Bon, 1965-1982, London, UK) and Quinta da Malagueira (Álvaro Siza Vieira, 1977-1998, Évora, Portugal). The work examines the history that imbues these buildings, whilst also looking at their present function and reality. Cera’s work can also be seen in DEMO:POLIS – The Right to Public Space, a major exhibition on design possibilities for public space at the Akademie der Künste.
A refugee dormitory in Hannover by Mosaik Architekten BDA; a project on makingheimat.de database; photo: Olaf Mahlstedt
In an extensive call for projects, DAM Deutsches Architekturmuseum has collected various examples of refugee housing projects and actual solutions that have been built in response to an acute need for housing in Europe. Since October 2015, some 35 examples have been collated – forming an ongoing comprehensive research database presented on makingheimat.de.With a particular focus on modular wooden structures, the spectrum of projects also ranges from temporary lightweight containers, comprising fitted interiors designed by architects, to low-cost long-term housing projects. Identifying the long-term sustainability of varying housing models, the database has gathered initiatives from different funding backgrounds – with efforts by citizen groups to projects backed by private benefactors in response to the continent’s existing housing shortage. The database will be open for submissions throughout the Biennale andguidelines stipulate that projects must be commissioned, in construction or already built. The launch marks the first official stage of Making Heimat: Germany, Arrival Country,the proposal for the German Pavilion at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition 2016 – La Biennale di Venezia. The exhibition in Venice will use findings from the database, along with journalist Doug Sanders’ thesis on ‘Arrival Cities’ (living environments within urban structures that are integral to one another, but do not intermix) in order to define the necessary conditions and housing solutions for tomorrow’s integrative urbanism.
With this year’s Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim, the Federal Office of Culture (FOC) has honoured three outstanding Swiss cultural practitioners: the curator Adelina von Fürstenberg, conceptual artist Christian Philipp Müller and architect and author Martin Steinmann. For the second time, The Prix Meret Oppenheim will run in parallel to Art Basel, together with the Swiss Art Awards 2016 exhibition. At this time, an exhibition with portraits of thewinners will be on show, and a Prix Meret Oppenheim 2016 publication will also launch, which comprises interviews between Samuel Schallenberg and Adelina von Fürstenberg, Philip Ursprung and Christian Philipp Müller, and Daniel Kurz and Martin Steinmann. The Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim was initiated in 2001 to honour artistic and architectural creativity. The awards distinguish artists, architects, curators and researchers, whose methods and approaches have exerted a lasting influence on our perception and have stimulated cultural dialogue in Switzerland and beyond.
Passengers on the Düsseldorf Metro will be able to journey through the city in an entirely new way come 20 February – the Wehrhahn link, a new underground line, will open its doors after 15 years of planning and construction. The task was carried out by netzwerkarchitekten from Darmstadt and the artist Heike Klussmann. Since 2001, they have worked with architects and artists along with city authorities to realise and devise an overall design concept for the six stops on the new route. The idea was to use the line as a site where art and architecture are inseparably bound – intersecting, inspiring and complementing one another and leaving a strong collective stamp on the space. Remarkably, there will be no advertising in any of the stations across the entire line. The artists commissioned for the series are Ralf Brög (Heinrich-Heine-Allee), Ursula Damm (Schadowstraße), Manuel Franke (Graf-Adolf-Platz), Enne Haehnle (Station Kirchplatz), Thomas Stricker (Benrather Straße), and Heike Klussmann (Pempelforter Straße). Instagram: @wehrhahnlinie
no1: Product designer Sebastian Herkner was selected for Das Haus, the project space for young designers and architects. The ‘open house’ structure was a statement on both our tendencies towards isolated modern living culture and on the current global issues of the refugee and housing crisis. However, instead of it being an overly-political message, Herkner began the dialogue through topics of hospitality, in order to communicate ideas of inclusivity and openness. no2: Herkner’s design interest is well suited to a curiosity about the domestic sphere, and this is something that was explored in his recent collaboration with Colombian-German interiors brand ames, which also launched at imm. The designer worked with several small local manufactories in the countryside of Colombia to create ames sala, a line of modern interior accessories connected to traditional Colombian life. no3: Frankfurt-based brand e15 engaged visitors on another important issue – the impact of copyright infringement on the design world. This was expressed in the 20th anniversary display of their iconic BACKENZAHN stool, a design classic that is included in museums and collections all over the world. In a poignant and playful installation, e15 exhibited replications of the stool over its 20-year existence, stressing the international market for copied products and the necessity for original design. And this idea was brought to life further, with many of the Chinese exhibitors, showing replicated products throughout the fair. no4: Design was also transferred into the art sphere with two exhibitions outside the fair. Berlin-based brand NEW TENDENCY were focused on nurturing emerging talent in their collaboration with Milan and Barcelona-based journal apartamento, where they selected three designers to make an edition of their famous CLICK shelf. At contemporary art gallery Ruttkowski;68, Mike Meiré (Cologne), Nathalie Du Pasquier (Milan) and Ill-Studio (Paris), showed their takes on the shelf. At Kölnischer Kunstverein, designs by Jasper Morrison were shown on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the A&W Designer of the Year award. The survey highlighted Morrison’s long-standing commitment to innovative, globally consciousness design. This example for younger designers to follow was supported by Morrison selecting Swiss designer Michel Charlot for the A&W Mentor Prize.
Digital media has radically altered our understanding of art. In last year’s exhibition Vertigo of Reality, the Akademie der Künste showcased artistic strategies and practices reflecting on and engaging with the viewer’s perception. Current developments in game art where located within a tradition of artistic critique and debate going back to the 1960s, evident particularly in closed-circuit video installations, but equally as apparent in performance and participative projects. A recently published reader serves as a comprehensive follow-up documentation of the entire project not only covering the successful exhibition, but also the large number of collateral events like lectures, talks, concerts and performances. The reader includes texts by Horst Bredenkamp, Mark Butler, Michael Diers, Wulf Herzogenrath, Slavko Kacunko and many more. An accompanying video documentation (30 min.) provides additional insights. The bilingual reader can be ordered here.
To those with further interests in the topic, we recommend a closer look at the massive video archive with recordings of many collateral events. It is accessible for free through the project site.
Sennestadt was an ambitious urban planning project of the 1950s and attracted worldwide attention. The plan by the architect, Prof. Bernhard Reichow, was based on ideas of an »organic art of urban planning«. According to Sennestadt’s urban development the exhibition project »Vor Ort« questions the current correlation between art, the city and the public sphere, using Sennestadt as a model. The freshly printed catalogue features the works by David Adamo, Awst & Walther, Michael Beutler, Andreas Bunte, Christian Falsnaes, Manfred Pernice, Arne Schmitt and Katerina Seda and their site-specific sculptures, installations and artistic interventions, through which they thematically explore the character of the city and its inhabitants.
Vor Ort – Kunstprojekt Sennestadt
Thomas Thiel (Bielefelder Kunstverein), Sennestadtverein (Hg.)
Texts by: Peter Holst, Jutta Kirchhoff, Hans Bernhard Reichow, Horst Thermann, Thomas Thiel Website