— Alona Rodeh presented by Grimmuseum as a part of ABCBerlin Contemporary 2016, along with artists from Ellis King, König Galerie, Galerie Koal, Kraupa-Tuskany Ziegler, Galerie Neu, Société, Sprüth Magers, Galeria Stereo and more.
Carried through its softly dystopian prose are characters like Bonky, Eggie and Bubs who’s opinion on the book are given in its accompanying blurb: “If he’d read it Bonky would call it ‘an I-scream-landic saga complete with raging sea hags and bullshitting Beowulfs.’ But Bonky is holding out for the telenovela.”
Suspended in motion, Keira Fox and Ellen Freed of collaborative performance project, New Noveta squint their eyes towards the sun. They wear dark matching outfits in a similar colour palette as the grey water and grass surrounding them, as depicted on large prints mounted on the walls of Berlin’s Sandy Brown.
The photos at Zene Zemlje, the duo’s first solo show running March 12 to May 1, were taken during a residency in France. “The pictures are quite ecstatic and express female empowerment,” Fox explained in an interview with Artsy last month. With that in mind I silently wait, standing on the white industrial plastic that covers the Sandy Brown’s floor by a small pool. Surrounded by other Berlin Gallery Weekend guests on April 30, I suspect that their second performance in the space, marking the end of Zene Zemlje, could get messy.
Wearing dark red, cotton dresses and beige heels designed by Louis Backhouse and Dean Wellings, Fox and Freed storm into the space from the outside. Their hair is pinned up and their lipstick matches their costumes. Tied around their waists are a pair of scissors and see-through plastic bags, filled with fish eggs of different sizes and colour. If it weren’t for these strange particulars, along with their aggressive movements, they could easily blend in with the crowd gathered outside watching, protected by Sandy Brown’s large windows.
Bumping into each other, Fox and Freed head towards long bamboo poles attached to three corners of the space with thick threads. Collaboratively but chaotically, they start to toss the sticks around, leaning on each other for support. They yell confusing commands in high-pitched voices that temporarily overtake the intensive soundtrack that has been playing throughout. Neither the audience situated inside the space, nor the pool of water are in any way an obstacle to New Noveta completing the task of constructing a loose installation out of these staffs. At this point the room has been vaguely divided by the bamboo poles unevenly hanging across the room, above the body of water and through the crowd.
New Noveta, Zene Zemlje II (2016). Costumes by Louis Backhouse + Dean Wellings. Performance view. Photo by Louis Backhouse. Courtesy the artists + Sandy Brown, Berlin.
There is nothing dignifying about Fox and Freed’s movements, each gesture is driven by anxiety and ambition. Like small girls in their mother’s heels they stumble around. With no guidance on how to survive under the enormous pressure of contemporary society. With scissors in hand, they cut off each other’s bags and clothes, the collaboration has become deconstructive in parts and they have given up on existing rules and have constructed their own.
After cutting down the multilinear installation, Freed and Fox are now stripped, by each other, down to their leotards; their torn and crumpled clothes gathered with the poles in a pile on the floor. Crushed fish eggs cover it, along with the darkened water from the pool, causing the scene to become dangerously slippery. As before, the surroundings do not stop New Noveta from performing the task at hand; of carrying the sticks outside where they leave them beside the door.**
Jean-Michel Wicker‘s solo show e industrial has returned for another round at Sandy Brown, having opened at the Berlin space on May 30 and running until June 13.
Wicker’s solo exhibition already made its debut at London’s Cubitt last summer as the first solo UK exhibition for the Berlin-based artist and marks Wicker’s move away—or perhaps alongside, more accurately—the world of production, having worked in publishing and typography since the early 90s.
In describing writing as a “poor substitute for the joy and the agony of love”, e industrial introduces itself as a “meditation on human-machine reconfigurations, inflation and desire” inspired by the Italian Situationist Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio and his approach to mass-production and collapse.
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. **
CTM and Transmediale 2015 kick off in Berlin this week, while Art Genève is also running in Geneva, and will include Arcadia Missa and Preteen Gallery as exhibitors with work by Amalia Ulman and Babak Ghazi; Phoebe Collings-James, Deanna Havas and Leslie Kulesh, respectively.
Events in Berlin around CTM include performances by Evian Christ, Young Lean and 18+ (who are also doing a few dates across Europe), as well as a collaborative concert with Transmediale on the weekend. Sandy Brown is hosting its ☁︎ cave kino screening in the city outside of that, while in London Paul Kneale and Natalie Dray have solo openings, and Candice Jacobs‘ EXHALE (to her earlier INHALE at Project/Number) is opening in Liverpool.
Elsewhere there’s another double-opening at Birsfelden’s SALTS, an exhibition in Reykjavík including work by Sæmundur Þór Helgason and another group show at Johannesburg’s The Goodman Gallery featuring work by Candice Brietz and Mikhael Subotzky among others.
“What kind of image do you end up with?” asks the close of a draft of informal notes taken by artist Gili Tal and Sandy Brown director Fiona Bate for its recent exhibition, Panoramic Views of the City, that ran in Berlin from October 25 to December 13. From the images alone, it’s hard to distinguish which is a window and which is the screen featuring an image of an outside in the gallery space. It’s a sublimation print on MicroTexx hung from a railing on a front window featuring a ubiquitous archetypal heart. It bears little resemblance to the muscular organ but represents an almost universal symbol of human emotion adorning a view out from a spätkauf shop window on a Langese ® icecream umbrella, or a Lycamobile advertising sticker.
Next to the LED strip that lights up ‘Love and War’ (2014), the glass pane of the Sandy Brown front door looks out on to a street lined with autumnal trees, in contrast to the other’s summertime green. One wonders how distinct these images are from any other inner-city suburb, apart from presenting the German Heartbrand subsidiary of an Anglo-Dutch multinational, as opposed to the global brand’s ‘Wall’s’ in the UK or ‘Streets’ in Australia.
“…but the thing you represent when you come face to face with me has no heart in its breast. What seems to throb there is my own heartbeat.”
The above quote is Marx anthropomorphising a capital that “asks for our love” and identifies “our own heartbeat” as being at the centre of the Panoramic Views of the City exhibition. The sparsely adorned gallery walls present one curtain, two paintings and three blenders set across the small space, inspired by Tal’s observation of advertising that trades on a “high end emotion and urgency” that demands its consumer’s love (an “aggressive, emotive and manipulative” one). That’s where the three paintings ‘Cityscape Pictures(1, 2, 3)’ (2014) present an oil on canvas reproduction of a cityscape taken from a t-shirt from Dutch retail chain C&A. It’s text is stretched and distorted by shifting dimensions and superimposed on a metropolitan image that is “both generic and specific at the same time”. Inspired by the countless souvenir tops, canvas prints, mouse mats, towels, toilet brushes commemorating a time and place that could be experienced anywhere, it echoes Milton Glaser’s “I ♥ NY” design, become “I ♥ LA”, “I ♥ London”, “I ♥ Tokyo”, “I ♥ Ho Chi Minh City” and so on.
Distorted in such a way that they resemble Edvard Munch’s iconic angst-ridden expressionist piece ‘The Scream’ (1893) (also the subject on an earlier Tal exhibition Damage Controlat Lima Zulu last year), ‘Cityscape Pictures(1, 2)’ become what the artist calls “a sardonic re-activation of this idea of speed and modernity that such images rely on and work on emotionally”. The absurdity of this notion – in light of the epically unexciting way this capital pressure is executed via homogenised self-reproduction – is emphasised by the fact that one of these stretched images is dropped on its side.
At the centre of all this is ‘But the World Keeps on Turning (Der Himmel Über Berlin Version)’ (2014). They’re three blenders, household appliances on a shelf above a rubber floor mat, mechanically altered and slowed down by an engineer to rotate at about 60 revolutions a minute: “blenders as sky, shelf as earth, floor mat as sea”. They lurk like the three clocks your likely to see at an internet cafe. Clocks showing the time across global capitals – New York, LA and London perhaps – from a space where your only access point is via the images conjured through arms on clock faces, computer screens and panoramic photos of an unttainable location. The ‘real thing’ is one reserved for those that can afford it; luxury apartments on lifestyle property websites where a window with a view becomes a trading point, the city as emblem of private wealth and patriarchal power structures. With that in mind Tal’s notes ask, “what would be my city view? >>>curtain?”. The exhibition answers, “I can’t have panoramic views. I can buy pictures of them”. **
The first NEW releases exhibition was launched on June 28 in a public park on the corner of Ritterstrasse and Lobeckstrasse in Berlin, where Karilampi and collaborator Max Ronnersjö postered already vandalised walls with miscellaneous brands, events and graphics to be left at the mercy of the elements and assigned a show duration of “June – open end”.
The announcement for the second, re-capitalised new RELEASES comes with Karilampi’s typically knotty visual associations featuring a tattoo of lyrics by British grime artist Skepta, as featured on JME’s ‘Don’t Get Rude‘, and a Telegraph newspaper clipping about glow-in-the-dark streets of the future for heritage walkways in England’s Cambridge city.
Accordingly, the artist and BCR radio host with the sketchy instagram handle of nigerian__queen will be opening the exhibition on September 17 with the neon motifs, metallics and UV lights of the hypermodern aesthetic-of-the-urbanite he’s known for, as well as HD video and “the mirror bar” (presumably the same one from Frieze London last year) on September 20.
Established in 1996, the initiative offers emerging gallerists opportunities to show at one of the biggest fairs in the world, highlighting some (then) unknown artists through the years that went on to have prominent careers, including Wilhelm Sasnal and Elizabeth Peyton.
And NYC-based artist Dena Yago – also working with the NYC trend forecasting collective K-Hole – will be the first artist presented at LISTE by Sandy Brown gallery as they join the programme.