art berlin contemporary (abc), running during Berlin Art Week, from September 13 to 18, is presented as a hybrid between a curated salon-like exhibition and a commercial platform, gathering a carefully selected set of international galleries, including Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, PSM and Societé, among others. The event depicts itself as more than just an art fair, focusing on a smaller number of artists with single propositions.
The way art is usually consumed nowadays in biennials and fairs resembles a conceptual binge: a compulsive, unachievable mental record of one thing after another, with a viewer forced to accept the impossibility of achieving an overall view in detail. In the case of abc, however, its 62 participating galleries seem to constitute a feasible amount of displays to see, distributed in only one hall, Station Berlin near the German capital’s Gleisdreieck Train Station.
In this 2016 edition, a much smaller and humbler setup than previous years, is presented at the usual location: a 19th century brick station and former Dresdener Bahnhof devoted to imports and postage in the 20th century and now host to miscellaneous events. Although spacious, the building feels rather non-excessive, as only half of the building is taken up by the fair, in contrast to previous editions of abc.
The single focus on one artist and the reduced space afforded to each gallery makes for an unusually comfortable and placid experience, in relation to the more common anxiety of art fairs. The resulting — in the words of abc’s organisers — “rigorous selection” of galleries feels slightly insufficient, given the diminished amount of exhibitions on display and without a decrease in entry price.
The visual dimension of a social body mediated by infrastructures of control is suggested, for instance, by Alona Rodeh’s twenty-one paintings from her recent exhibition at Grimmuseum where the Israeli artist explores the aesthetic potential of security and surveillance, bringing together reflectant materials for colors and infrastructural material, like aluminium. In ‘Safe and Sound, (High Visibility)’ (2016), the official turns trendy and the useful prop turns autonomous artwork out of Rodeh’s collection of hi-vis workwear.
At gallery Guido W. Baudach’s booth, shared with Vilma Gold, digital media pioneer Markus Selg presents ‘Subliminal Fire/Present Ancestors’ (2016): a staged giant rag doll lifting its worshiping arms. Sitting on a domestic blanket, positioned as looking to a vertical screen, it is reminiscent of Nam June Paik’s ‘TV-Buddha’ (1974), melting esotericism and a popular fascination with mass-media technologies.
At Carlier/Gebauer’s booth, Laure Prouvost’s installation consists of two narrow corridors hidden behind a wall-scale piece of painted fabric that leads to two humourous video works. Shown on two old TV monitors on plinths, there is one in each corridor. The first depicts a close up of the artist’s torso and hands, while her voice narrates the unacknowledged discovery of a sign of God materialised in a set of vegetables the artist envisions when waking up. Throughout the film she explains why those vegetables are a sign of God and how no one takes this fact seriously, not even the artist’s grandfather. The other monitor depicts two hands smearing hand-soap through the pages and the cover of a book about conceptual artist and developer of time-related theories, John Latham. Perhaps it satirises the traditional figure of the male genius, sliding female fingers softly, distributing this substance, which on the screen appears critically similar to sperm. The two video installations are surrounded by each film’s protagonist: the actual props, like the vegetables and the soap container, serving as three-dimensional still lifes as well as a symbol of the absurdity of the acts.
On another corner, next to the fair’s café-restaurant, a colorful and flashy van turns out to be Kenny Scharf’s ‘Closet #16’. It’s the sixteenth version of an eponymous project, which began in the ‘80s when the painter, sculptor and performer was sharing a studio with graffiti artist Keith Haring. Collecting trash and decorating compact spaces with it as an escapist and therapeutic process, Scharf’s hobby became a ritual and the ritual became the project called Closet. This most recent iteration is a permanent and portable container of diverse found objects, such as toys, electronics and detergent boxes, painted with neon colors and acting as a surface to reflect the low lights, randomly directed by a disco ball. All of this is accompanied by lo-fi mambo music played by an old cassette player painted in the same fashion as the rest of the fluoro piece in the space.
Author of the NET manifesto and iconic figure within conceptual movements, Polish artist Jarosław Kozłowski’s framed newspaper pages, painted with one monochromatic layer, are hung on Profile Foundation booth’s walls, accompanied by some paper bags containing monochrome painted paper on the ground. A low table lies a book about Kozłowski’s NET proposition, which represents a non-institutional exchange of ideas –in his words. Those concepts, such as non-commerciality, unauthored nature and the capacity of being copied and reproduced, heavily contrast with the traditional spirit of an art fair.
Yet, it’s this paradoxical contextualisation of a work that reflects the contradictory nature of abc itself. While still trying to find the most effective way to present this hybrid model, abc represents a skeletal framework hopefully acting as raw material to be exploited and developed; a new way of marrying commerciality with conceptual and curatorial practices.**
Header image: Laure Prouvost, ‘Behind the lobby doors, the pepper is in the right eye’ (2016). Installation view. Courtesy of artist + Carlier | Gebauer, Berlin. Photo by Trevor Good.share news item
It’s easy to spot the Gallery Weekenders —they’re dressed mainly in black, brandishing the programme’s teal coloured fold-out map and trapped anxiously in the car park of a residential block because the space they seek, but can’t find, is actually a floor above them through a small unmarked door to the left. It’s a great way to meet people.
This year’s edition of Gallery Weekend Berlin, running April 29 to May 1, includes an impressive 54 official galleries, 17 private collections and museums, and a stream of satellite programmes spanning installation, intervention, performance and exhibitions across the city. Thank goodness the map also highlights partner gastro centric businesses to keep our energy levels up throughout the weekend.
First stop on AQNB weekend is Potsdammer Strasse where Arratia, Beer invites you on a journey of self exploration with British artist Ed Fornieles and his exhibition Der Geist: Flesh Feast. The artist is protagonist in the film of the same name, present in the shape of his recurrent animated fox avatar. We sit on low orange plastic lounge chairs and listen to a woman’s voice tell us how to successfully create ourselves, while images move across the screen like flashes of memory or components of personality. The fox (artist) cuts in after a few minutes to talk about coping with life and the spiritual routine he is trying out. Fornieles calls it his diet —controlling input to control output —and discusses food consumption and processing. It’s part of the revival of spiritual manifestation and empowerment —or Harvard Business Review —but it is his website which offers the most insight into the project. The film was a highlight, but other works include small 3D-printed models of the fox in various corporate/ every-day environments with banal affirmations emblazoned on the base and illuminated in glass cabinets, plus ‘Last Days in the Desert’, a large food cart full of fresh vegetables laid out into playful humanoid shapes.
Around the corner at Tanya Leighton ‘Buri’ and ‘Spotigy’, two bulls, stare back at us from two-meter tall chromogenic prints in Aleksandra Domanović’s installation. These documentary photos were taken on site at the University of California, Davis, where two bulls have been genetically modified to remove their horns using CRISPR technology. The most interesting part of the show is the accompanying interview with animal geneticist Alison L. Van Eenennaam. In the text we learn more about the genetic tools used to manipulate DNA and the extensive research currently happening there. The artist also tells us that part of her interest in the project is due to the main scientists on the project being female. The Votive series of three sculptures are human height cuboid structures made from variations on PA plastic, foam and polyurethane. The structures have protruding human arms, which cradle an animal.
Micky Schubert gallery on Genthiner Strasse offer a sensual selection of works by Berlin-based artist Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili. I’m drawn instantly to the abstracted neon hues and layered pastels in the photographer’s images which keep my attention with occasional recognisable forms: a leg here, an iPhone there. Working at the intersection of digital and analogue, Alexi-Meskhishvili creates a world of suggestion and mystery, almost to abstraction, alluding to a deeper narrative with the figurative and personal interactions with objects. Her works are constructed with painterly attention to surface and process whether using a found image, or staged photographs, and the colour saturation is reflective of the oversaturated climate.
Upstairs Société present LA-based artist Petra Cortright with her deconstructive/reconstructive installation die Rose. The show includes two recent examples of her ongoing webcam collaboration with Stella McCartney, in which the artist wears the fashion designer’s items as the video is filtered through distortion software. Sporting a floral handbag, Cortright moves around the screen to switch on the process, first imitating a pictorial slider game, and then pulsing in linear waves to a background of loud electronic music. Her digital paintings and printed flags, all constructed from the same PhotoShop file, stand strong in another room, depicting abstracted floral layered surfaces, created using various in-built and self made PhotoShop brushes.
Stepping in to Alice Channer’s installation at Konrad Fischer Gallery there’s a warning that one does so at their own risk; the polished concrete gallery floor is covered in an inch-thick layer of tiny black plastic pellets! My smooth-soled brothel creepers are highly inappropriate for this endeavour, however as I awkwardly glide over to the table to collect the exhibition text, it says that the pellets are Polyester Regrind, continuing the artist’s interest in materials, matter, and waste product. And the audience loves it. Elongated rock formations, ‘Burial’, float in the sea of black plastic, cast from aluminium bronze, concrete and corten steel, which are formed in layers resembling topographical survey maps. There is a feeling of movement, and flow, an alchemy and history of material that connects all of Channer’s works. Her more delicate circular molecular drawings in gouache hang at varying heights in both the upstairs and downstairs gallery, with names like ‘Filter’, ‘Inhaler’, and ‘Membrane’. The gouache is mixed with Silk Cut cigarette ash.
This selection of work from GWB is very process-driven, with artists shifting between producer and consumer in a sometimes playful and engaging way. My only wonder is when an artist points at something, where does the audience live in relation to the work — are we participating in something, or are we observing a show and tell?**
Header image: Aleksandra Domanović, Bulls Without Horns (2016). Courtesy Tanya Leighton, Berlin.
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Condo is a collaborative exhibition across London between January 16 and February 13.
Eight London spaces will each be hosting multiple solo presentations, selected and curated by other Galleries across the world. Twenty-four galleries are taking part in total, including London’s Chewday’s and Supplement Gallery, Geneva’s Truth and Consequences, Rome’s Frutta Gallery and Galerie Jaqueline Martins in Sao Paolo.
Relatively little information is given about how each of the mini solo shows will join together in their groupings but in anticipation of Condo here are our recommendations:share news item
Art Basel is returning for another round in the Swiss town, taking over from June 18 to 23.
The fair brings over 300 galleries exhibiting more than 4,000 artists, with eight different sectors representing the various artistic mediums, and a multitude of events throughout its week-long run, including an artist talk with Harm van den Dorpel, Anicka Yi, and Robin Meier on June 18, one in memory of the great Louise Bourgeois on June 20, and one on romance and collaboration in contemporary art with Paul Kneale and Elise Lammer on June 21.
Among the 300 leading galleries exhibition are some familiar to aqnb, including Berlin’s Carlier Gebauer, Contemporary Fine Arts, Société, Tanya Leighton, and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, as well as Hamburg’s LEVY Galerie, and the international Hauser & Wirth. Running alongside the art fair is Lady Bar‘s week of musical programming, bringing Berlin techno, Gang Fatale and Night Slugs, among others.
See the Art Basel website for details. **
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“I was listening to happy hardcore and Britney Spears remixes till 6 AM”. That’s a quote from Petra Cortright via DIS magazine, one of many snippets of interviews pulled and put together to make up the content of the PETWELT press release. Accompanying the Berlin exhibition, in random order across fonts and sizes, these insights offer an introduction into the chaotic world of Cortright’s playful though pertinent persona that’s emerged and moved out of YouTube and into the gallery. This time showing at Société, five films spanning as many years between 2009 and 2014 present a brief retrospective of sorts, where a development becomes apparent while a certain stasis persists.
Across multiple video projections on the wide gallery walls across several separate spaces, ‘Sparkling I’ (2010) and ‘Don’t Warp With Door’ (2014) appear side by side in the first. The former film is set in a garden, where the artist – ever present in all of her webcam works – is surrounded by plants and trees. As Cortright moves in and among the branches they turn pink, sparkles following her motion as they then become black points that disappear into the sky. The viewer is drawn into a hypnotic fantasy world before a return to domesticity in ‘Don’t Warp With Door’ beside it. This time the artist is in a room, with a digital satin painting of her 2011 Night Heat series to the left and a white door to the right. Cortright is dressed in the black and white product of an AW14 Stella McCartney collection and video collaboration, as the door closes, bending in and out into glitch as her legs do when she walks away.
The glittering soundtrack of the previous room is intersected by a dance mix from the following where ‘Main Bitch’ (2012) is screening. Dressed in pink, wearing a long pink wig and some bunny ears, Cortright’s appearance is as lurid as the music in the background of her suburban setting. It’s heavy electronic music – early millennial Russian ‘lesbian’ duo t.A.T.u.’s ‘Ya Soshla S Uma’ (‘All the Things She Said’) among them – that’s played through blown-out speakers. Cortright’s preening movements of tousling her hair, lighting a cigarette and checking herself out are delayed by video effects while being interjected by shots of her shoes and bare corners of the empty room. It’s one of the few videos that features more than one shot.
At the other half of the Sociéte space is the sensual and motion-blurred video of ‘Bridal Shower’, originally commissioned for Frieze London last year. Here the artist dances in what looks like a makeshift wedding gown from a childhood playing pretend, while smoothing makes Cortright’s movements, slowed down and sped up, almost a pleasure to watch. Rose petals fall from the sky to a track produced by Nightcoregirl and edited from the high res porn animation of Affect3D’s Girlfriends 4 Ever teaser, setting the erotic and objectified undertone.
As in ‘Main Bitch’ Cortright plays out a certain role within a setting that is contrary to the last video on show, ‘When You Walk Through the Storm‘ (2009). With no setup or costumes, it returns its audience to where her work began, as the artist sits in front of her webcam, waving her hand effortlessly back and forth and followed by simulated water that blurs her face. It’s a relapse to the simple gestures of Cortright’s early days. Expanding on the tools and drawing on more direct and secure movements, PETWELT points to Cortright’s stronger grasp on her chosen media and their influence on her work through time. Yet even now, as more a performer and less a cam girl, it’s clear that the image may have changed but the effects remain the same. **
Header image: Petra Cortright, ‘When You Walk Through the Storm’ (2009) @ PETWELT (2014) installation view. Courtesy Société.share news item
Berlin Art Week is returning to the German capital for its third year, running at various galleries, museums and contemporary art spaces throughout the city from September 16 to 21.
Like in its previous two installments, art fairs abc – art berlin contemporary and Positions Berlin are joining forces with some of Berlin’s most prominent art institutions (including Berlinische Galerie, C/O Berlin and the Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) to create a rich six-day program, packed with exhibitions, lectures, performances, and screenings, as well as the international conference Artfi The Fine Art & Finance Conference running in Berlin for the first time.
This year, artist Marguerite Humeau‘s futuristic sound and sculpture installations are taking over Import Projects, Ernst Schering Foundation Art Award winner and director of London’s Auto Italia Kate Cooper and artist Ryan Trecartin are presenting their respective exhibitions at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, and Archive Kabinett is “tracing feminisms’ genealogies through its manifestos” in Manifestos Show: Act I, Inessential Fathers .
Meanwhile, the abc and Positions Berlin art fairs will run from September 18 to 21 at, respectively, the Station in Kreuzberg and the former Kaufhaus Jandorf in Mitte, together featuring 150 galleries and a variety of events, including Spiros Hadjidjanos from Future Gallery, Guan Xiao from Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Zvi Hecker from Neumeister Bar-Am, Camille Henrot from Johann König, Davis Rhodes from Société, and Yung Jake from Steve Turner Contemporary.
See the Berlin Art Week website for details. **
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People say that an artist’s intent is beside the point, but sometimes the intent is the only point worth taking. Artist Bunny Rogers‘ aesthetic isn’t for everyone, but it is conscious and significant, and that meant something to me. A few days into the exhibition, I biked over to Société, a small gallery space tucked into a nondescript pre-war building by Tiergarten, to take a look her latest show, Columbine Library.
All four of the gallery’s rooms are populated by the exhibition, each inspired by the now-infamous Columbine High School Massacre of 1999. In the first room, a public school-style library bookcase stretches diagonally across an empty room, each side stuffed with plushy Neopet toys staring blankly from their shelves. “The bookshelf is an exact replica of the one in the Columbine library,” a gallerist tells me. Bunny had found the images of the high school online and re-created accordingly. “Well,” he adds, “this one is bigger, but close enough.” It is eerie, seemingly senseless, but when I’m told the toys were created by Bunny herself and born of a childhood obsession, the aesthetic of the exhibition quietly comes into focus. Looking closer, I see that each toy bears a unique “Elliott Smith” tag, for the “Shooting Star” singer, as well as a ribbon depicting the gentle, flower-smelling bull from The Story of Ferdinand that Smith wore tattooed on his arm. “She’s obsessed with him,” says the gallerist later, but doesn’t elaborate.
In the adjoining room are two sets of chairs, huddled in pairs on opposite sides of the room and adorned with velvety, hand-made backpacks and flower-embellished tubular purses. On the backpacks are depictions of cartoon characters from childhood cartoons, Joan of Arc of Clone High across one, Gaz of Invader Zim across another. On one of the walls, seven ghostly “self-portraits” hang suspended on the walls, depicting a cartoon-like Bunny holding a Neo-pet sadly, Bunny with icicle hands and a purple heart, Bunny with her mouth covered by a butterfly.
Without context, the room seems meaningless, unsettling, the iconic references jarring and ill fitting alongside one another. But once the context begins to materialize – that of innocence lost, children’s backpacks exploding with home-made bombs, the bleeding personal narrative of Bunny’s own childhood juxtaposed against the tragedy of the shooting – the exhibition’s kitschy hollowness takes on another meaning. What had felt incomplete, unrehearsed, becomes a meandering through the cultural icons and symbolic figures of lost childhood.
In the last and final part of the exhibition are two adjoining rooms, each bearing a video installation, synced with one another meant to be in a constant loop depicting each of the two cartoon characters standing before the re-imagined spaces of the Columbine Massacre – the empty, disheveled cafeteria standing silently under exploding sprinklers; two armchairs before a curtain in a dark, mossy room – reading from Bunny’s latest poetry collection, Cunny Vol. 1. The videos loop for 20 minutes, the affectless drone of Bunny’s voice feeding through the cartoon mouths. I focus in and out of the videos, and when I tune back in, I hear Bunny’s voice say “looking for something to lighten up the dark corner / company at the foot of your bed to garble your griefings” and feel instinctively what the exhibition is about. **
Header image: detail of ‘Clone State Bookcase’ (2014). Image courtesy Société and the artist.share news item
Frieze Art Fair New York is running in the US city, May 9 to 12.
Aside from the sadly emblematic union with a clothing brand, there are still things potentially worth seeing at the art fair if you’re planning on going anyway.
Some gallery booths and potential artworks to see include Artists Space, representing the likes of Bernadette Corporation, Metahaven, Loretta Fahrenholz, Ed Atkins and DUOX, Gallery Hyundai with YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTIRES and Nam June Paik and Bortolami.
Other artists potentially scattered across booths include Ned Vena at White Columns, Xu Zhen with Long March Space, Camille Henrot at Galerie Kamel Mennour, Tabor Robak and Cory Arcangel for team (gallery, inc.), as well as Sophia Al-Maria, Slavs and Tatars, Shirin Aliabadi and Hassan Hajjaj at The Third Line and Ian Cheng and Emily Wardill of Standard Oslo.
Artists from Carlos/Ishikawa, Clages, Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Tanya Leighton and Société will also be represented, as well as a booth for Bidoun with publications and a “10th anniversary Donkey-Ouroboros-Nasreddin tote bag” available to buy.
See the Frieze Art Fair website for details. **
Header image: Camille Henrot, ‘Grosse Fatigue’ (2013).share news item
Celebrating its 10th anniversary Gallery Weekend Berlin is running across the city May 2 to 4.
There’ll be 50+ galleries officially and unofficially taking part in the weekend-long affair where the city’s exciting art scene opens its doors to the public in unison.
Do your own research for details.
…or you can check the Gallery Weekend Berlin website for the galleries that are listed. **
The composition will be performed solo by organist Hampus Lindwall on the Korg M1 piano famous for the classic Rave and Trance breakdowns of the 80s and 2000s.
It follows the opening of Arcangel’s All the Small Things exhibition, running in Denmark to June 22, and features conservatoire-educated musician, Lindwall, as a student of the late-Rolande Falcinelli in Paris and noted for his collaborations with other visual artists including John Duncan and aalliicceelleessccaannnnee&ssoonniiaaddeerrzzyyppoollsskkii.
See the Cory Arcangel website for details. **
The fifth edition of New York’s Independent Art Fair is on at its 548 W 22nd Street venue in Chelsea, opening March 6 and running from March 7 to 9.
See the Independent New York website for details. **
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The gallery will be presenting work by Josh Kolbo, Sean Raspet, Timur Si-Qin and Ned Vena, along with 70 other international blue chip and emerging galleries at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. Tabor Robak and Cory Arcangel representative team (gallery, inc.) will also be there with a selection of its other artists, while Jonathan Viner will present work from George Henry Longly, and Brenna Murphy represented by Portland’s Upfor gallery.