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  • Christian Hain

The Gallery Weekend Berlin 2017 – Part 2. More Galleries, More Nudity.

(Berlin.) The second day of Gallery Weekend Berlin, and we’ll stay in the Potsdamer Strasse sector. As usual, the first stop down there is at Klosterfelde (c/o Vincenz Sala). This, because nobody would ever walk on the other side of the street. One of the few galleries over there even put a signpost on the “right” pavement with the invitation to cross. I decided to think it over, at least. But Klosterfelde. They show Kay Rosen’s (concrete) poetry from the 1970s, “add-and-end”, Yellow &ct. An ophthalmologist’s letter table she decorated with lines leading from one to the other, but you won’t decipher any meaningful word. Maybe the artist anticipated swipe keyboards on modern cell phones. Plus “Instructions, how to fold a napkin into a jewel box”. Thank you, I’ve always wanted to do that. Next stop Baudach Gallery. The clean space upstairs hosts more historic works from the 20th Century. Photographer Jürgen Klauke shot himself in bizarre poses, half surrealism, half transvestism. His abstract works are not bad, either.

And then, it was time for Blain Southern Gallery and their neighbours - or parasites, I seriously doubt they take any notice of the plebs surrounding them. Although, they did allow Esther Schipper Gallery to move in on the attic. She certainly hopes to profit from one or the other visiting mega-collector, but: There still is no elevator. And it gets really exhausting for the senior, maybe even big boned, collector, to reach the ‘chambre de bonne’. The art up there would be worth it. Esther Schipper is a well-known gallery, and only “small”, or “less relevant”, when compared to the B/S class. Proof is the current show of Anri Sala. He installed false mirrors that are actually windows (or: transparent glass panels) in front of cinema screens, and switched off the lights. The film features hands of a piano player playing piano. Probably, there’s more, but I’d need to go back to verify. This happens in a large backroom, the front space offers sculptures of Angela Bulloch that appear two-dimensional but are indeed three.

Downstairs to B/S. Jonas Bungert is a German painter. His 22x6 metres(!) decatych (if I counted that right) is not only monumental, but magnificent. There’s so much going on, even if you don’t like paintings (or German Paintings) in general, you have to acknowledge the skills. So many layers providing a maximum of colours and detail! His small formats are slightly less impressive, but still great. If you are able afford this, you might be Andreas Murkidis. This guy is a mystery. I had heard the name somewhere before, and thought it a gallery. Then, outside of Blain Southern, in the large yard between the gallery buildings, I hesitated – should it be an Audi dealership after all? Or maybe he opened one on the side? Hesitating between a green S8 and a silver R8 Spyder with that name and “Free of Charge” written on their doors, I realized, the promise did not refer to the cars. Nevertheless curious to visit the gallery, a Google search returned none, but only a “concept store”. Confused, I entered Judin Gallery instead. In Germany, everybody knows about the 19th Century encyclopaedia “Brehm’s Life of Animals.” It recently inspired Hugo Wilson to a series of paintings and sculptures that are accompanied with works of 19th Century French draughtsman of fantasy scenes with animals Charles-Frédéric Soehnée (a late Bosch). At least one of Wilson’s paintings copies a popular internet meme: that squirrel riding on a bird’s back.

According to the press release, he seeks to protest anthropomorphisms.

On my way to Plan B Gallery, I overheard somebody saying, “The best thing right now is the sun.” He was right. It was shining.

Hidden away around the corner, Arratia Beer is not a craft brewery, but one more small gallery. They show abstract art that is not much different from what abstract art looked ten, twenty, or thirty, years ago, but it’s still ok. CAUTION: Their second exit leads not back to the yard with all the other galleries there, but to Potsdamer Strasse with all the galleries there. On my way back, I nearly got run over by a Tesla. I don’t know, if I’m allowed to say it in public but: I hate Teslas. Not only because you won’t hear them coming. Or for that %@#&-ugly iPad in the dashboard. Happy to be alive, I escaped into a clothing store that had advertised an “art installation”. It turned out to be a spinning beermat under glass. There was writing on the floor: “I found it.” I did indeed. This, and a vibrating guestbook. I wonder what exactly they hid inside the plinth?

Outside, in the yard, still on the former industrial site that hosts so many galleries, Bratwurst was three Euros, and organic. Or would you prefer the Burger King on the wrong side of Potsdamer Strasse? Personally, I felt another urge too, but decided to finish with the galleries first. It was the right choice. Reiter Gallery is one of GWB17’s highlights! Dan Stockholm’s show is titled “Don’t think about death”, yet that’s all it is about. Stones and plaster, photos of hands holding bricks, the solemn ambiance immediately gets you, it really does! The video of children playing on the street is unnecessary, though. Art as an activity aimed against time, that’s a yesterday’s concept. Immortality is nothing to strife for in our times, it exceeds the calculable, and consumable, the equalitarian now. YOLO, right? Or not?

Upstairs, XC.HuA Galleries, Berlin-Peking. A Rilke poem written with a pencil on the wall is illustrated by drawings and sculptures. In another room, calligraphy from another artist, this is a group show. Some of it is fine. Akim Monet (not related by blood or marriage, right?) Gallery presents a historical exhibition with works by Franciso Goya and Rodin. Thinking about it, maybe he is a relation: The Parisian Rodin Museum won’t give its works to any unknown dealer. To a descendant of Claude’s, certainly. Be that as it may, you cannot say a word against the show.

And finally, Thomas Fischer Gallery has monochrome photographs of architecture. You’ve seen that before. Sadly, Jiri Svestka Gallery has closed its Berlin space a while ago. Outside again, it started to rain. Still no toilet. So a burger on Potsdamer it was (and the smelliest, dirtiest restrooms seen in a while).

Refreshed, I finally visited some exhibitions on that side of Potsdamer. which is not a gallery, but – and I quote from their website: - an “art family office”, shows colour fields and framed dried leaves of Herman de Vries. In that same building several artists, or collectors, or whoever, opened their apartments, studios, or stock. I liked the book shelf of a lawyer/philosopher couple. In their bath tub lay a life-size mannequin (or sleeping performer, some visitors imagined to see him breathe).

Kehrer Gallery next door has photos of Pamela Littky halfway between Martin Parr and the Marlborough Man. ‘Murica, your trailer parks. “Trumpy.” If you’re in the area, you might also visit Camaro Foundation, named not after the American sports car, but a German artist. They reside in a lovely backyard next to an only-on-appointment gallery. I did not enter, but the senior artist(?) in tank top watching passers-by from behind his upstairs window clearly enjoyed Gallery Weekend.

And then, finally: Andreas Murkidis IS a gallery! They show photos, and a mirror. That’s all there is to say about it.

The last galleries around here reside on Schoneburger Ufer, overlooking a canal, or sidearm of the river Spree. Rubén Grilo at Future Gallery shows framed nothingness, abstract frames framing the damaged wall behind. This is decorative, has been done before, but I still like it, a lot! Better than what you will see after the dangerous descent to the gallery’s cellar.

If you started reading this long, tedious, text with the title, you are probably getting impatient for the promised nudity. Here it comes: Isabella Bortolozzi is a well-established gallery in Berlin. Anthony Symonds, a fashion designer, and Max Pearmain, a stylist, spend too much time on YouPorn. And they like Jeff Koon’s Made in Heaven series. Maybe they even know about Gustave Courbet. As a result, they shot a pornographic perfume commercial with a pro "actress". There are close up photos and a film of that lady masturbating with a perfume bottle. I would accept it for an anticapitalist gesture denouncing the pornography of all commercials. That would be stale, but justifiable. Coming from these guys – nope. Their only intention is to sell perfume and garments. I honestly don’t have a clue how they convinced Mrs Bartolozzi to agree to this. Anybody knows about the backgrounds (relationships, family ties, commercial debts)? Maybe an artist could make something of it, and document visitors rearranging backpacks to cover their front, or carrying gallery flyers and other papers low. But there was no artist around. I could find no information whatsoever about the Lebon in the "artists"’ moniker Symonds/Pearmain/Lebon. I prefer YouPorn (or Pornhub).

Now that we’ve had sex, what about violence?

Berlinische Gallerie profited from Gallery Weekend to add a fresh ninety minutes feature film by John Bock to his on-going exhibition. It ran in a loop all Saturday, and I was expecting a mix of Uwe Boll and the early Peter Jackson (of Braindead). The Uwe Boll part of the comparison is wrong: Bock knows to direct. A pity that there were no more visitors! BG had freed a dedicated screening hall, to make room for the large crowds that did not come. If you ever have the chance to watch a film of John Bock’s, do it. Even with the subtitles, the language is magnificent. The gore is gory, and the actors are fine.

Don't forget to read parts one and three!

Berlin Gallery Weekend. Most exhibitions will run for the usual four to six weeks.

World of Arts Magazine - Contemporary Art Criticism



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