Dressing Up. Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster at Schinkel Pavilion and Esther Schipper Gallery

(Berlin.) 11 November marks the debut of the carnival season in (the catholic areas of) German speaking countries, a fact rather insignificant for contemporary art you would have thought. Well, you were wrong. This year, Schinkel-Pavilion decided to go along with it, only “carnival” does not sound cool enough - “cosplay” does. Cosplay is the hip, Japanese-inspired, version of people dressing in character, or to sound more arty: of Cindy Sherman. In case you wonder: Halloween is fine too, there are lots of Halloween parties in Berlin. Schinkel decided to host its Cosplay Sundays immediately afterwards, from 6 to 20 November. And no, this is not part of the young audience programme, but aimed at adults, and linked to an exhibition of Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (whom many tend to mix up with Felix Gonzalez-Torrez, alas, she is alive). 

 

The French artist uses dresses for readymade sculptures, or to “paint” a room. So she’s done at Schinkel-Pavilion with clothes and furniture in red, blue, gold, white and green, all in the exhibition space upstairs. It’s nice to look at. Judging from two uniforms, Sergeant Pepper and Michael Jackson are just having a tête-à-tête in the lavatory. Visiting on one of those Sundays, downstairs, it was all about cosplay, or just call it “participative performances”. - Was it actually cosplay too when people dressed as van Gogh paintings and put it on the internet for Christian Jankowski to find and further use? - There were a make up stand, a wardrobe, and even a handful of visitors, most of them female, or Japanese. Still, the atmosphere resembled a children’s birthday party. The middle of the room took a tent with tinsel walls, the ceiling a mirror, its floor multi-coloured. This was actually great (see above photo). Maybe later, dressed up people could be observed cosily playing inside. Which brings us to the ventilators all around. If they had offered Marilyn costumes, I would potentially have stayed. Or not, the angle was not right, the wind blowing horizontally.

 

The Facebook event had mentioned the participation of a particular brand of gin, which induced me to think there would be a free tasting session, but no, for that, you still need to visit KaDeWe luxury department store on Friday afternoons. At Schinkel, the barman wanted money. For to participate in the proceedings, I would have needed a bottle or two, at least. I preferred to leave immediately, and thirsty. 

If you cannot make it to Schinkel Pavilion on a Cosplay Sunday, don’t be sad. The show itself opens on weekdays also. That tent is nice, and so are some of the works upstairs. It’s for free (the “voluntary donation” has apparently disappeared since the last time I’ve visited), and you can even have a look at all the art online!

 

Maybe more important, the Schinkel show is promoting DGF’s solo at Esther Schipper Gallery

In there, it’s dark. An assistant will welcome you and offer guidance with a flashlight, but finally does not follow. A paper advises not to use your mobile for a light source. Instead, your shins run into steel ropes, searching your way through a corridor. Two projections/holographs show historical characters accompanied by what is unendurably shrill shrieking for the ones, and the beautiful art of Opera singing – Soprano - for the others. There is Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster as Maria Callas, and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster as Sarah Bernhardt as Napoleon (“Buonaparte” pour nos chers lecteurs royalistes), and, in a second room, as Marilyn indeed! Not in that dress, though. 

Metaphorically spoken, DGF dresses as Cindy Sherman, adding movement and historical authenticity to that artist's dressing sessions, and it’s all part of an ongoing project, an artistic opera served in single bits. Those cosplay costumes at Schinkel have all been used for the same series.

 

BLESS/Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster/Manuel Raeder, Costumes and Wishes for the 21st Century, 31 October 2016-22 January 2017

Cosplay Sundays, 6-20 November 2016, Schinkel-Pavilion

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, qm.15, 4 November – 17 December 2016, Esther Schipper Gallery

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