Soundsystem Despacio, New Century Hall, Manchester International Festival, Juli 2013 © Rod Lewis / Guests at Studio 54, New York, 1979. © Bill Bernstein, David Hill Gallery, London / Installation views, Photos: Mark Niedermann
Nightclubs and discothèques are hotbeds of contemporary culture. Since the 20th century, they have been centres of the avant-garde that question the established codes of social life and experiment with different realities. Interior and furniture design merges with graphics, and art with sound, light, fashion and special effects to create a modern Gesamtkunstwerk. Night Fever is the first exhibition to give a comprehensive overview of the design history of the nightclub, examining its cultural context from numerous perspectives. Examples range from Italian clubs of the 1960s created by the protagonists of Radical Design to the legendary Studio 54 where Andy Warhol was a regular, from the Palladium in New York designed by Arata Isozaki to more recent concepts by the OMA architecture studio for the Ministry of Sound in London. Featuring films and vintage photographs, posters, flyers and fashion, the exhibition incorporates music, light and spatial installations to take visitors on a fascinating journey through a world of glamour and subcultures – always in search of the night that never ends. In a night that never ends, the exhibition begs the question of whether the disco culture has evolved into a particular direction.
Stepping Stairs, 2018, Courtesy Judith Hopf
As an homage to the American architect and theorist John Hejduk, one of KW’s courtyard façades has been repurposed to resemble his anthropomorphic structures attributing facial features to concrete buildings through structural masks. Judith Hopf, the artist behind this permanent architectural intervention, refers to the aesthetics of the Kreuzberg Tower and its adjacent wings in Berlin as a nod to Hejduk’s large-scale transformations. This artistic commission is an extension of Hopf’s upcoming solo show Stepping Stairs at KW, and it’s been made possible thanks to Outset Germany_Switzerland. Established in 2003, Outset is the only international, independent charity pooling donations from patron circles and partners to supports the creation of new art. Drawing on their network of experts, their aim is to identify what is most needed in the arts and respond with tailor-made funding solutions. Projects that challenge thinking and further the artistic discourse to reach new and wider audiences are at the forefront of the initiative’s activities. This spans education, professional development, the production of new work and exhibitions, institutional collecting, and initiatives that underpin the creative infrastructure for the long term.
Jordan Wolfson, Riverboat Song, 2017 (video still)
Employing digital imaging and animatronic sculpture, Jordan Wolfson’s practice is centred on ideas of literal and virtual reality, especially the projection of inner impulses – desire, violence or guilt – into constructed scenarios. At Schinkel Pavillon, Wolfson’s Riverboat Song reveals a surreal nightmare drawn from the banalities and horrors of contemporary life and its online extension. Combining animation and found clips, pop soundtracks and voiceover, the filmic piece revolves around a Huckleberry Finn-style character delivering deadpan statements. Formulaic elements of the internet, such as avatars, memes, clips and mash-ups, coalesce into a dark psychodrama that’s both disturbing and enthralling. Through a splicing of images and a disconnect between image and script, Riverboat Song erases the line between the perverse and the gleeful. The fictive world of animation, which grows more lurid as the video progresses, is contrasted by the found reality of YouTube footage. Throughout his latest work, Wolfson exploits the distortions of cartoon to render the reality of human acts and behaviours without moralizing. The power of Wolfson’s work owes equally to the visceral impact of its complex representations – which slide seamlessly from banal to violent, and from vividly imaginary to scarily real.
3B-Produktion (Berlin) for Berlinische Galerie
Pin-up girls, comic book figures and supermarket products collide upon one another – a diverse mix rendered in brash colors that was soon to make history as Pop Art. Collage became Eduardo Paolozzi’s primary artistic strategy as he employed it in his search for a new visual language and iconography for mass culture and industrialized society. In his glued pictorial worlds, man and machine constantly intersect — an element that derives from the artist’s particular interest in science and technology. Essentially, Paolozzi’s aim was to eradicate the boundaries between high culture and popular art, merging them into one entity. This exhibition is based on Whitechapel Gallery’s 2017 Eduardo Paolozzi retrospective in London which showed the complete works ofthe artist. In contrast to the London show, the Berlinische Galerie focuses on his idiosyncratic and experimental work of the 1940s to the 1970s with which the artist attracted much international acclaim. Additionally, one of the key chapters of the exhibition centres around the artist’s productive year in Berlin (1975/75) and the work he developed inspired by the city, out of his Kreuzberg studio around Kottbusser Damm.
Optik Schröder II. Works from the Alexander Schröder Collection, mumok © Photo: mumok, Stefan Korte
Alexander Schröder began building his own art collection fuelled by his personal experiences and interactions with artists. After studying art in the early ‘90s in Berlin, he soon realised that he was more interested in the work of his contemporaries. Together with Thilo Wermke, he founded Galerie Neu in Mitte while developing a particular understanding of art and the connections between different movements. His intimate knowledge of the art spectrum meant that he was able to formulate collecting as an activity that made buying artworks into a form of intricate dialogue with the artists, an intellectual game celebrating shifting roles within the established system. Twelve years after its first public appearance, a representative selection of his private collection returns in the form of the exhibition Optik Schröder II at Mumok in Vienna. The works on show illustrate some of the key conceptual trends in the development of Western art in the past three decades, and therefore offers a rich artistic spectrum of the critical questions that arose during that time. References to social issues, queer lifestyles, critical investigation of public space and architecture, as well as poetry come together through positions by Bernadette Corporation, Anne Imhof, Kai Althoff and Isa Genzken, to name but a few. This comprehensive overview shows a collection built up consistently since the mid-1990s and based on close proximity to the artists, and sensitivity for new developments. An essential element that’s influenced Schröder’s approach was his encounter and later friendship with the legendary New York gallerist Colin de Land. De Land’s selfless treatment of the artists he represented, as well as his patient, long-term thinking revealed how one can act with increased finesse within the art world. Optik Schröder II illustrates an exemplary philosophy of collecting, focusing on the nature of the contemporary, on curiosity, expertise, and humour. “I let myself be guided through many intimate conversations with artists. If you look more closely at the collection, you’ll see different ramifications, and suddenly it all fits together. I am always looking for a story behind the art.”
photos: Heji Shin
Journeying across deserts, cities and foreign lands, the 19th century explorer Heinrich Barth was on constant expeditions to experience the world’s diversity and cultures with sensitivity. As an homage to his restless spirit and adventures, an eponymous line of high-quality bodycare is dedicated to wanderlust and intimacy. Heinrich Barth products are born out of their founders’ urge to capture and cherish moments in the form of lavish mementos associated with places they have close to their heart. Eclectic ingredients from different regions of the world are the basis of all the products which are made by a traditional family business in Turin, Italy. The primary product line is without scent in order to make anyone feel comfortable in their skin and environment without leaving a trace. In contrast, the Destination Line is reminiscent of specific places: MYKONOS 07 brings on the olfactory experience of being on the island right in its prime in July. Fig leaves, olive trees and wild herbs tell stories of endless summers. DAKAR 04, with its hints of papaya, mango and vanilla, transports the wearer to the city’s bustling markets, where fruits are stacked up to the sky on wooden carts and their aromas mix with bright colors. Travel and discovery trace every step of Heinrich Barth. Wanderlust turns into liquid indulgence.
images: Instagram Heinrich Barth
Frozen tent for the Antarctic-Biennale 2017, Work + Photo: Gustav Düsing
For most people, Antarctica, the earth’s sixth continent, is so far away that it can be perceived as common heritage, as an agile archive and laboratory, in which a new era of ecological consciousness is being fostered. Antarctica is a geographic end of the world yet central to global debates about climate change. But what are the intellectual and practical coordinates of commissioning art in such a location? Can we even talk about an ‘antarctic imaginary’ beyond scientific discourse? Starting with a screening of Pierre Huyghes’ film A Journey That Wasn’t, the event “Expeditions / Exhibitions” investigates the topic of travels and their presentation. What follows is a discussion between Antarctic Biennale participant Gustav Düsing, author and expert in Huyghe’s work Marie-France Rafael, and co-curator of the Antarctic Biennale Nadim Samman addressing the larger questions at hand. As part of the event, Düsing will reveal his architectural contribution to the biennial: a tent made of frozen fabric as a reference to the most prominent typology that has been used for Arctic expeditions since the 19th century. This event is part of Stop making sense, it’s as good as it gets., an ongoing program developed by Ludwig Engel and Joanna Kamm, derived from a close reading of Tom McCarthy’s novel Satin Island. Artists, writers, architects, theorists and scientists are invited to discuss their interpretations of time through different formats.
© Vitra | bottom: design sketches by Panton, probably between 1957 and 1960, Vitra Design Museum Archives
After several years of joint development by Verner Panton and Vitra, the Panton Chair was finally ready for production in 1967 as the first all-plastic cantilever chair to be manufactured in one piece. Created with a revolutionary technique even for today’s standards, the chair’s unique sculptural design was presented to the public for the first time at the imm Furniture Fair in Cologne in 1968. It rapidly came to symbolize an entire era. Now, 50 years after its launch, Vitra is celebrating this timeless icon by issuing two limited editions that bring lustre and luminosity to those dynamic curves: Panton Chrome and Panton Glow. The inspiration for the first one derives from Verner Panton’s fascination with mirrored surfaces and his extensive experiments with diverse reflective effects. An old dream of the designer finally comes to fruition as a recent complex process prevents its previous sensitivity to scratching. On the other hand, Panton Glow accentuates luminosity and a certain “radiance from within” due to phosphorescent pigments that absorb daylight and emit a blue glow in the dark. The jubilee duo shines bright, paying homage to the design’s smooth twists and bends.
A visual voyage reveals the rarely seen inner universe of the religious schools of Shi’ite Islam over hundreds of years, through an harmonious coalition of both recent photographs and historic records. When Naser al-Din Shah travelled to Iraq in the late 1800s, he brought back a fascinating collection of photos depicting not only the Shi’ite holy places, but also antiquities and scenes from contemporary life. Hitherto unpublished, these photographs reveal a cultural wealth that today seems more threatened than ever before. “Insight” seeks to create an awareness for the cultural diversity of the region. These photographs document the continuity of Shi’ite Islam as well as the losses and dramatic changes that have taken place since. Alongside those, Hans Georg Berger’s recent photographs bring a different look on the topic. Intimate portraits and discrete observations of sacred ritual are borne from a stance of respect and curiosity. No other western photographer has delved as deeply into this enigmatic world. Years of listening and trying to comprehend have established the necessary mutual trust to capture the many layers of faith and daily life. The accompanying book published by Kehrer Verlag extends the focus of the exhibition with written contributions on Berger’s approach, on teaching methods at the religious academies, and on the calligraphy which was added to some of the photographs.
top Baas Maartens´ Smoke, bottom Dave Hakkens´ bloks. both © Frank Hülsbömer
Shiny, immaculate, new: these are the qualities we expect from the objects with which we surround ourselves. But one often forgets that aging is also part of life – and design. Transience, the theme taken on by the sixth Design Display exhibition, is much more than a philosophical question. Two designers who deal with the concept of impermanence in different ways take center stage: Maarten Baas destroys in order to create, while Dave Hakkens develops concepts of sustainability. Though both of them share the opinion that good design is more than good looks. For the Smoke series, Baas took iconic design pieces and torched them until they were left charred. In reworking design classics, Maarten Baas’ productive act of destruction not only shows the surface’s vulnerability, but the transience of the original design intentions. The torched versions call for the recognition that things must elapse to make room for the new. Facing Baas on the other side of the glass display, is Dutch designer Dave Hakkens with his Phonebloks – a concept for a smartphone made up entirely of individual modules. The idea is that different “bloks” can be assembled on the motherboard like Lego blocks. These blocks are autonomous functional units such as batteries, processors, speakers, cameras, or memory cards. Users can assemble or upgrade their device at will, as well as easily replace broken parts. The transience of a single module doesn’t spell the end for the whole device. The transience of a single module doesn’t spell the end for the whole device. In the On Display magazine accompanying the exhibition, the fascination with ephemerality and the allure of decay are further explored.