Subtext and thoughts

I am walking down the stairs to a cellar to watch SUBTEXT – a performance by Colin Self. The building, which used to be the Czech Cultural Center in East Germany, is now housing the Julia Stoschek Collection. While entering the cellar I feel a strong, familiar smell. It’s the smell of shelters, a smell I can’t forget though luckily I haven’t smelled for a very long time, which reminds me of my childhood (like guava, or swimming pool chlorine). But instead of a sound of an alarm, that usually accompanies this smell, the beautiful voices of the performers chanting harmoniously filled the dark hall. What a relief. A one hour performance started, in which around 80 spectators and myself were guided by the performers through the multiple cellar rooms in low light, or complete darkness, while they were weaving together text, songs and movement playfully. I felt disorientated but others assisted me, we all looked after each others, as Self guided us before the performance started. At times the spectators were invited to engage in the process. It was a feast of queerness, sounds and philosophic ideas that even though I haven’t always fully comprehended, composed a unique and evoking experience.

Colin Self, Siblings (Elation VI), 2018, Live -Performance MoMA PS1. New York. photo: Maria Barranova. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Voice, music and movement are such powerful tools of expression. It always has an immense effect, often allows the spectators to lose themselves in this multi layered situation. I thought about An Occupation Of Loss – the extraordinary performance by Taryn Simon I was so lucky to watch one year ago in an underground secret location in London. The performance gathered professional mourners from 15 different countries, who sang simultaneously their traditional mourn. I was left speechless and overwhelmed, so did the other. (Can someone please bring it to Berlin already? Johann König maybe? I think it might work great in the scenery of St. Agnes church).
Another performance involving music and movement is Aggregate by the Romanian artist and choreographer Alexandra Pirici. It was first shown at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein and its new version will be presented during Art Basel in 10 days. And of course the Lithuanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennial, showing Sun & Sea (Marina) – an opera performance dealing with serious topics such as climate change, which won the Golden Lion for best pavilion this year.

Colin Self (born 1987) is an artist, composer and choreographer, working between NY and Berlin. He is what we call multidisciplinary artist. His works were already presented at the PS1 MoMa NY, the Martin-Gropius-Bau and more. His performance SUBTEXT is the first part of a new performances series created by him, produced specifically for the Julia Stoschek Collection. It is based on the Siblings Compendium, a collection of writings and quotes that inspired his recent released album, the futuristic opera Siblings.

This performance is part of “horizontal vertigo“, a year long program curated by Lisa Long at the Julia Stoschek collection in Düsseldorf and Berlin. Julia Stocheck is one of the biggest collectors and supporters of time-based art. She started collecting this genre many years ago, when it was still not as fashionable as nowadays. Her program is always bold and inspiring. Chapeau, can’t wait to see what the two of them prepare for us in the future.

Julia Stoschek Collection – Leipziger Straße 60, 10117 Berlin (entrance: Jerusalemer Straße).

Gallery Weekend Special

Are you ready for Gallery Weekend Berlin 2019? 45 Galleries are officially participating in the 15th edition of Gallery Weekend, presenting emerging artists alongside established ones. Private collections offer extended opening hours and museums as well. If you are sitting at home right now, cold sweat covering your forehead, feeling perplexed and swamped by what seems like endless options – RELAX! We’re here for you with suggestions and highlights.

Andreas Mühe, Mühe I, 2016 – 2019, aus der Serie: Mischpoche
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

THURSDAY evening – at 19:00 the exhibition “Mishpoche” by Andreas Mühe will be opening at the Hamburger Bahnhof. Mühe is known for being Angela Merkel’s favorite photographer and has many other elite politicians in his oeuvre, such as George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev. His beautiful photographs, mostly portraits, produced entirely with analogue technology, dealing with German history and Identity are often ambivalent and ambiguous. This exhibition is more personal, revealing an analysis of the relationship within Mühe’s family as well as an art theoretical investigation.

FRIDAY evening – the official Gallery Weekend’s kick off starts at 18:00 with the openings at all the participating galleries. Put your comfortable shoes on and start your gallery hopping. I must admit that it’s sometimes hard to actually see the art as it’s usually packed with people but there is always an enjoyable festive ambiance, cool crowd and… free drinks (:

>>> This year for the first time, visitors can use the app MyArtWalk to compose their ideal gallery tour on their smartphones!

This year Charlottenburg offers a boost of activity (mainly along Fasanenstraße and Bleibtreustraße). Galleries such as the wonderful Friese Gallery in collaboration with Kicken Berlin will present works by William N. Copley, Robert Frank, Saul Leiter and Saul Steinberg – four American artists who share a mutual thread in their investigation of everyday culture in the U.S, each in his respective medium: photography, painting and drawing. Meyer Riegger Gallery which joined the neighborhood lately, will show Daniel Knorr; Contemporary Fine Arts with Tal R and Eberhard Havekost; Wentrup Gallery showing in their new space in Bleibtreustaße Florian Meisenberg and David Renggli; Buchholz Gallery with Michael Krebber – just to name a few.

Wentrup: David Renggli, Desire painting (Miliand), 2018. Courtesy the artist and Wentrup, Berlin

Another promising area is Potsdamer straße with: Blain|Southern presenting Bernar Venet’s sculptures; Galeria Plan B with Horia Damian; Guido W. Baudach Gallery with Björn Dahlem; Esther Schipper showing Ryan Gander; and a special exhibition of the wonderful artist Jorinde Voigt at Klosterfelde Edition. Voigt, who is known for her large-format drawings, takes her works beyond two dimensions as she experiments in spatial explorations of her research. Not so far from there at PSM gallery the artist Daniel Lergon will show a new series of beautiful red paintings.

PSM: Daniel Lergon, untitled, 2019. Photo: Matthias Kolb. Courtesy of the artist and PSM, Berlin. 

SATURDAY – a good opportunity to visit private collections that usually requires booking months in advance – such as the the Boros Bunker, the Hoffmann collection and more. I would go to Fluentum – a new space in Dahlem, dedicated to time-based media art such as film and video, will be showing the works of
Guido van der Werve – a Dutch filmmaker and visual artist. Fluentum is located in the former main building of a military facility built in 1936-38 for the German Luftwaffe, which served as the headquarters of the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1994. Over the past three years, the historic building on Clayallee has been extensively redesigned for use as an exhibition and private space, so that seven areas spanning over 600 square meters can be used to exhibit art and host discussions with artists.

Paper Positions Berlin. photo: Clara Wenzel-Theiler

SUNDAY – If you are missing the art fair atmosphere go visit Paper Positions Berlin in the historic atrium of the former telegraph office. Paper Positions is dedicated to showcasing works on paper such as drawings, collages, photos, prints etc. The fair aims to attract young collectors, offering affordable artworks in an intimate scenery, with 48 galleries from 11 countries: Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, USA, Latvia, Israel and more…

Wishing you all a lovely & inspiring weekend! ❤

Gallery Weekend Berlin 26-28 April 2019