The event launches the Latvian gallery’s new space in Riga’s Skanste area, since closing its doors at its original Maskavas forštate (Moscow District) location earlier this year. The night will open with a show from NY/LA-based music production and artist duo 18+, as well as an audio-visual performance by Indriķis Ģelzis.
The three exhibitions on show include Gluhovs’ L’UOMO VAGUE, Meldere’s Colouring Books and Grantina’s Heap-core,,,, the latter of whom presented with Berlin/NYC gallery Mathew at Liste 2016 and took part in group exhibition X is Yat Berlin’a Sandy Brown in 2015.
Liste art fair emerged 21 years ago as a counter-initiative to the powerful and established Art Basel fair –born in 1970, now a European epicentre for galleries to gather and gain exposure to a concentrated group of avid collectors. Liste’s clear purpose is, in contrast, of offering a platform to mid-sized young galleries in the Swiss city, in order to give them visibility. It serves as an alternative collaborative model showing 79 young galleries from 34 countries between June 13 and 18, where sales are as important as mutual support and coexistence.
Hot dogs and cocktails can be purchased at the tiny entrance yard of the Warteck Brewery and from there the first booths emerge, the labyrinthine architecture accessed through a hallway on the left. The red brick building was redirected by architecture studio Diener & Diener in 1992 to 1996 and seasoned with an additional zig-zag-like metallic stair, linking the four levels. It feels like a school or a civic centre, the toilet tiles being tagged with a giant graffiti statement announcing: “Berlin calling!”, among other tags, synthesising the general vibe of the whole event.
Instead of the usual individual booth distribution, the galleries coexist in small groups, sharing each of the spaces. There some bars and restaurants between them at intervals, part of the building and a print workshop for children’s books, showing some classics on the top of a few archaic manual print machines: Ratz Fatz Zauber Was – Fairs and Fairy Talesis a project by Luca Beeler, Cedric Eisenring, and Carmen Toble presented by Kunsthalle Zurich.
My instinct tells me to go up first, from there down in order to get a feel for the scale of the event. The interminable stairs end at a tiny bar leading to a balcony, from which you can see a massive Liste flag and some participants and visitors hanging out in a relaxed fashion at other areas of the building. From there, going down, Yuji Agematsu’s mini collections of detritus —including human hair —contained in plastic cigarette packaging are displayed on thin wooden shelves at Real Fine Arts’ booth. Alex Vivian’s Unique ‘Entry Level Sculptures’ made out of food packaging, toy fur and dirt, stand proud on customised plinths at Sandy Brown’s along with a filthy bed sheet, acrylic paint emulating some newspaper headlines through scribbles. Daiga Grantina’s vibrant and delicate scultpures —plastic cast, fabric, string, rubber and silicone —stay quiet at Mathew’s corner.
Following the irregular structure of the building, on the first floor there’s a series of old-school mailbox spam pinned on cork boards, advertising restaurants, meditation classes and other therapies by Fiona Connor traversing some of Hopkinson Mossman’s walls. Mikael Brkic’s ‘The Forecast’ from his scrapbook data is captured with marker on a set of small scale columns investigating meaning, information and other communications at Oslo-basedgallery VI, VII.
Back on the ground floor,Marcelle Alix’s booth seems like it’s floating, elevated from the other spaces by a platform, a glass ship, which becomes a symbolic Mediterranean landscape inspired by early 20th century writer and ‘visionaire’ Guillaume Apollinaire’s ‘If I died over there’ dedicated to his lover Lou. In the vessel, fragmented legs, hands and other things, by Ernesto Sartoriand Charlotte Moth look for an invisible and yet unknown pathway.
Hyper-texturized paintings such as ‘Brittle Land’ by Alexandra Navratil, made with polyester, aluminium, silver nitrate and lacquer instead of pigments, hangs on Berlin gallery Gunn’s wall. Elsewhere, Florian & Michael Quistrebert’s blobs out of modelling canvas paste, car paint and laser pigments are presented by Paris’ Crevecoeur. Several times I get lost and find myself somewhere I’d been earlier. It’s confusing yet exciting, this feeling of controlled chaos also reflected in Catherine Biocca’s striking scratched work ‘100 better ways to die’. Her angry gestures figuratively depict a smiley sitting man on sleek aluminium panel at Dutch gallery Hoffland, expressing violence as a form of entertainment.
Hybrid beings and crafty mediums are to be seen at the space shared by Debora Schamoniand Arcadia Missa. A silent conversation goes on between Jesse Darling’s sculptures made out of fire rated expanding foam, wooden rectangular board and metallic legs, Phoebe Collings-James black-and-white watercolours hinting at ghostly faces, ropes and animal shapes, and KAYA’s hanging sculptural collection of colourful images and plastic gestures. A humorous grotesque, nude, real-size body of a woman by Liz Craftis semi-hidden in Truth and Consequences’ cellar-booth near the entrance. The sculpture is surrounded by other ceramic pieces, such as sensual anatomical fragments and comic bubbles.
Purely pleasant and immersive meta-representation in the form of an electric blue installation navigated by horizontal and vertical drawings strikes at Limoncello by Cornelia Baltes, questioning the relevance of the image. The artist’s minimal yet powerful gestures in pastel colours contrast with the dystopian semi-alien landscapes created by entities, such the giant heads and camels by artist Jean Marie Appriou at Jan Kaps, Nicolas Ceccaldi’s dolls heads and feathers on peaceful landscape photographs at House of Gaga, or the conjoinedhentai characters by Andrea Crespo at Kraupa Tuskany-Zeidler.
As part of Liste’s off-site performance programme, the multi-user, multi-platform project Agatha Valkyrie Ice —by Dorotha Gaweda and Egle Kulbokaite —is activated at Solitude Park under the title ‘perma permadeath 2016’. Performer Lukas van der Gracht returns to a primal state dressed in Elena Jazukevičiūtė’s beige rags and interacting with the surrounding trees, stones and plants, inspired by the sound of Brooklyn Bridge.
At the Warteck Brewery vibes are familiar and far away from the inaccessible and slightly uncomfortable solemnity of mother fair Art Basel. For the good and for the bad, the milieu stays relaxed and fun, while the dominant praise for the margins is sold for what it’s worth.**
A play on art ascribed by chromosomes, group exhibition X is Y –running at Berlin’s Sandy Brown from March 6 to April 18 –provokes, “tell us again how women are free”. Ella Plevin is the author of said quote, taken from a text that comes with the room sheet noting the show’s Richard Kern short-film namesake, challenges gendered identity, questions ideas of ‘radical femininity’ as constructed by men and mentions that women haven’t always had control over their own bodies “(we still don’t btw)”. Hence, “A mop, a selfie, white goods, a diss, #heelconcept, an attitude, hair clips, pastels, sentiment.” It’s a list of words that are not only the object-ingredients of this group show taking its name from Kern’s three-minute 90s art porn, but it represents the work of seven artists (and one other group exhibition) that “both wield and oppose the codes of prescribed femininity”.
Nearest the entrance of the single-room exhibition space Daphne Ahler’s ‘hair clips’ (2014) are propped on the edge of a heater. The two fragile aluminium sculptures are irregularly cut out and look as if they’re the property of a large baby doll. A pair of neon-coloured wooden shoes with brushes attached to the sole are on display in a glass box, half filled with soapy water. It’s held up with the help of four coloured mops elevated from the ground and called ‘Aircleaninglady’ (2015) by its Norwegian duo creator Aurora Sander known for creating narratives using sculptures and mechanic objects.
The most arresting part of X is Y is undoubtedly Anna Uddenberg’s life-sized hyperreal sculpture ‘Jealous Jasmine’ (2014). With one leg bent almost uncannily high up in the air, a long haired human figure bends aggressively over a pram, grabbing it with both hands and lifting the front wheels from the ground. The faceless pastel-coloured cyborg is dressed in what looks like a future fighter’s outfit from a computer game, plus beige-y winter puff-jacket. Another sculpture by Uddenberg, ‘Nude Heart Spinning’ (2014) was first shown in Stockholm nightclub Vårbergs Dansservise slowly rotating like a disco ball. Here it hangs cracked and on silver chains in a far corner and leaves a question mark on what left poor Jasmine jealous.
Flora Klein’s vibrant swirls don’t attempt an answer in her ‘Untitled’ (2014) paint on canvas but Juliette Bonneviot perhaps suggests a preventative measure in the contraceptive pill and aspirin in epoxy resin that make up part of her textured ‘Xenoestrogens Grey #2’ (2015) pastel colour theme. Daiga Grantina’s crumpled silver clash of materials, near to Uddenberg’s spinning heart is the second in anatomical signifiers with its respiratory reference of ‘Pneum’ (2015) lying flat an flaccid on the ground. The sculpture is sprayed with metallic paint while Kirsten Pieroth’s readymade tumbler of a clothes dryer called ‘Oracle’ (2014) lies aslant and open to reveal an inside spattered with pigment that no doubt took a turn in the process.
A framed publication from another pointedly all-woman exhibition hangs on opposite walls, held at Atelierhof Kreuzberg in 2009, the show featured friends and artists that counted Petra Cortright, Aleksandra Domanović, Dena Yago and fellow X is Y contributor Bonneviot among them. A light-hearted response to an earlier all-man show called Larry’s and followed by an all-gay group called Garry’s, the six-years-old publication features a pile of pages pressed behind glass and showing the artists working, taking a shower and forming a human pyramid, all dressed in the same white t-shirts and denim shorts. The presence of such scenes on either wall of the Sandy Brown gallery is discomfiting to say the least. They’re a timely reminder that times have changed but the issues remain the same. **