Author: María Muñoz
Desertmed is an interdisciplinary research project. The “blind spots” on the European map serve as its subject matter: approximately 300 uninhabited islands in the Mediterranean Sea. A group of artists, architects, writers and theoreticians travelled to about 40 of the —often difficult to access— islands in search of clues, impartially cataloguing information that can be interpreted in multiple ways. The result is a pool of photographs, audio and video recordings, presented along with further artistic contributions. They examine the myriad ways in which the individual islands are used and – accordingly – their significant political, economic, and historical interrelationships.
Artists: Fabian Bechtle, Bik van der Pol, Leon Kahane, Deborah Ligorio, Stefanos Tsivopoulos, Luca Vitone and the Desertmed Collective: Giulia Di Lenarda, Giuseppe Ielasi, Armin Linke, Amedeo Martegani, Renato Rinaldi, Giovanna Silva with contributions by:Elina Axioti, Giulia Bruno, Daniele Ansidei, Aristide Antonas, Antonia Dika, Laura Fiorio, Stefano Graziani, Franck Leibovici, Donato Ricci
Project Group: Fabian Bechtle, Wilfried Kuehn, Armin Linke, Marina Sorbello, Antje Weitzel
On Thursday August 16th we were able to see Künstlerhaus Bethanien artists studios. The atmosphere in the studios was like a international artists dorm as they become scholars from different countries. Strolling through customized workshops, it was offered the exciting opportunity to see the artwork on the scene and deal directly with the artist.
Among this year’s artists, which are funded through the International Studio Program, include:
Mats Adelman (Guest Artist), Viktoria Binschtok, Mauro Cerqueira, Hadassah Emmerich, Jan Freuchen (Guest Artist), Roey Heifertz, Sharon Houkema, Hyein Lee, Michael Lee, Joris van de Moortel, Daniel Palacios, Linn Petersen, Judy Radul (DAAD ), Constantinos Taliotis, Aiko Tezuka, Mark Themann, Jane Ritchi, Rebecca Wilton, Daniel Young and Marie Zolamian.
McCarthy life’s work, which he has been creating since the 1960’s, was inspired by “primal themes” in American society and is characterized by irony, unmasking and the grotesque, as well as a complex nexus of interaction between media and materials. He makes use of Disneyland, comics, Hollywood and set pieces from art history. In his content-packed performances – which strain the limits of endurance – conceptual art, action painting, surrealism and minimalism seem to shift space. McCarthy introduces moments of the uncanny, of dislocation in space or masquerade, a situation that is reflected in the almost stage-like, three-dimensional collage “The Box” (1999): an oversized wooden box, into which McCarthy has built his entire studio, i.e. the setting for his creativity and the production of his artworks. The installation appears outwardly to be an inconspicuously simple trunk, yet inside a stunning variety of things that reference not only McCarthy himself, but his extensive creations from the beginning of his career to the present as well. The box with over 3,000 fixed objects from his studio – tables, equipment, tools or boxes – is tilted 90 degrees. Due to the rotation, it becomes an almost surreal spatial experience. This ties into McCarthy’s radical performance art and opens up new perspectives on the creative space.
As the single work exhibited in the expansive hall, “The Box” is granted particular significance. The narrowness of the studio – the private space – meets the expansiveness of the surrounding – the public space. At the same time, this artwork relates to the collection housed in the Neue Nationalgalerie, which is exhibited in the basement. Specific points of connection can be found to the cultural assemblage from the 1960’s exhibited here (Daniel Spoerris “Snare-picture”) or Bruce Nauman‘s early studio videos (“Bouncing in the Corner”). The view into the studio, a constantly recurring theme by modern artists, is in this version by Paul McCarthy the portrait of an unsparing artist who is willing to reveal everything.
The painted work “Mortadella” (2007-2008) by Christoph Hänsli is also a highly regarded artist’s book and a text by the writer and art critic John Berger (“Ways of Seeing”). Four years after its creation it is for the first time on public display. It consists of 332 individually framed paintings, which are all identical in size and technology: just under A4, acrylic and oil on paper and cardboard. 164 sized tip of a cut mortadella sausage – always two sides. Hänsli has chosen for this task an elaborate technique: hide under the visible surface, eleven building up layers of paint, first few layers of acrylic paint, followed by a multi-revision in oil, sealed with multiple glazes varnish. Also the whitish background is carefully zoom painted , so that the surface of the painted disk appears exactly at the level of cardboard carriers. Total claimed this process 15 months of work.
The effort does not serve as a hyper-realistic rendering of the sausage. Upon closer inspection it can be seen that actually the granular structure of the meat mixture can disappear through a monochrome paint in pink. The finely painted peppercorns vary its position. Even if the two sides of a disc is 1.5 millimeters mortadella meat lie, the respective successive painting not identical. The size and position of the white fat and lots of peppercorns vary slightly from image to image. Hänslis interest is the static (upper) surface and the almost endless variety of ways to build them. In the surfaces to write a history, memory and desire, their reproduction is in search of clues. Hänslis dealing with brushes, paints, pigments and glazes is masterful, and he takes for each picturesque challenge an individual solution. His image surfaces seduce the viewer to scan the painting with the eyes to detect the hidden.
The conceptual artist Hänsli avoids the personal gesture. As motifs, he often chooses objects that are beaten to everyday barely. He subtly conveys to the spectator. It is more than a description of reality. In its unadorned beauty to draw our attention to the images that surrounds us, and they remind us that we handle large part of our daily lives un-or subconsciously.
Besides “Mortadella” nine other works (created between 1998 and 2012) of Christoph Hänsli can be seen at Nolan Judin. Including the 22-meter long painting facade. In none of Hänsli pictures ever a man is to be seen, and yet the images always permeated our absurd earthly existence. Without pathos and sentimentality. Despite their striking visual presence do these modern vanitas motifs create an expression of absence and emptiness of the viewer that triggers a wealth of associations.
Text source: http://www.nolan-judin.de/ausstellungen/2012/christoph-haensli/ueber.html. Original in German, very free translation from German by me
FRANÇOIS MARTIG – “The Dawn”
The artist François Martig uses a wide range of media, from sculptural and sound installations to radio documentaries and photography in his pieces. In addition to his visual work, he produces live sound and music performances as well as soundtracks combining soundscapes, field recordings, electro-acoustic music and noise. In 2005 Martig started working on his long-term project Robinsonhotel, where he explores landscape as an evolving socio-economic and political spatial entity and phenomenon. In reference to Robinsonhotel Martig created his exhibition “The Dawn” at Künstlerhaus Bethanien highlighting the human will to manage the landscape. The Zone Rouge (Red Zone) refers to an area of approximately 120.000 acres in what used to be First World War battle-ground in Northern and Eastern France. The war’s impacts on nature were so devastating that there are still measurable chemical residues in the grounds, which are closed to the public, whilst cities like Verdun have become hot spots for military tourism today. As a post-war decree, Germany gave France Black Pine trees to help reforest the land around Verdun. Currently this forest is known for its cheap timber. For his project “Zone Rouge” (2007-2012) Martig bought 1 m3 of pine timber from the area and brought it back to Germany. He combines the wood with postcards, which show an image of the former battleground and inform the viewers about this unknown story. In addition a wasteland occupies the gallery space with soil taken from the sculpture garden in Berlin and a two-channel film projected from a watchtower shows found-footage videos of the worldwide deforestation.
YLVA WESTERLUND – “Evolutionary throwback”
In her drawings, installations, performances, and videos Ylva Westerlund explores various scientific models of knowledge. By assuming alternate roles she switches between the artist-as- researcher to the subject of study itself. Westerlund’s work is influenced by her interests in social studies, post-structuralist feminism, and monsters. In the exhibition “Evolutionary throwback” Ylva Westerlund weaves a visual net, which oscillates between the past, present, and future of human evolution. Inspired by a visit to Berlin’s Natural History Museum – Leibniz Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity and their displays of casts representing homo sapiens’ ancestor australopithecus anamensis, who has been extinct for four million years. Westerlund developed a complex multi-media installation presented as subjective scientific research. A part of it is her video “Evolutionary throwback” (2012). A plaster cast of the artist’s face as an australopithecus anamensis helps the artist to transform into a fictional creature, a mixture between homo sapiens and australopithecus anamensis, evoking notions of the art activist group Guerrilla Girls.
TOBIAS ZIELONY – “Zuspiel: Big Sexyland”
In a further edition of the ZUSPIEL-series, Künstlerhaus Bethanien presents the film “Big Sexyland” (2008) by photographer and filmmaker Tobias Zielony. In his works Zielony portrays groups of youths in desolate surroundings: the interchangeable peripheries of cities such as Berlin, Bristol, or Marseille. He works in the style of reportage, however, his images are not limited to simply documenting living conditions. Instead, he raises sociological questions: what types of signs construct these young-adults’ identity? What influence does their environment have on their understanding of self, what impact do they have on their environment? Zielony’s works combine and reflect a young seemingly lost generation’s issues of self-perception and judgement of others in the ghettos, prisons, and suburbia of our society. To produce the film presented in Künstlerhaus Bethanien Zielony followed young rent boys in a Berlin sex cinema and park over a period of several months. The film “Big Sexyland” (2008) is set in a Berlin sex cinema, which is not only a place of work, but serves as a “safe haven” for prostitutes. Zielony’s protagonist, a young man, is shown asleep, lying in one of the shabby upholstered seats of the projection area. The only source of light in the darkness is a porn film in the background. Projections outlining mechanical physical movements, monotonous moans and groans, envelop the sleeping young man. In his dreams, the young sex worker transcends the “Big Sexyland” represented in Western Europe, he seems far far away from his daily physical presence and sexual labour. His body is at the centre of Western capitalist society, fulfilling society’s promises – such as venal sex.
DAVID ARMSTRONG-SIX – “Civil Elegies From The Vacuum State”
For his exhibition at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, David Armstrong-Six reinvestigates notions of materiality and objecthood in relation to sculpture. The ten new sculptures in wood, bronze, plaster and glass which are collected here under the umbrella “Civil Elegies From The Vacuum State” are meant as a series of ruminations which seem to emerge equally from the vestiges of dada, Cubism, Situationism and Minimalism. Indeed, the vacuum state, which is the lowest possible field of sustainable energy in quantum physics, is equated here with a studio-based practice and the cumulative conflation of a studio-based language. David Armstrong-Six is searching for the specific shape of sculpture between noble grace and mere refuse, high cultural pretensions and casual collage, technology and nature, between the minimalist’s material sensitivity and the surrealist’s faith in contingency, between familiar forms and un-forms, i.e. elements that have been deplaced, reworked or destroyed. Using statics that are often scarcely credible, he constructs networks within which things communicate.
Text source: http://www.bethanien.de/
For the first time, the work of the New York-based artist Anthony McCall will be presented in a solo exhibition at a German museum. McCall’s unique projections, which he has been developing since the 1970s, exist at the boundaries between cinema, sculpture and drawing: animated lines are projected in a dark room filled with a light haze, allowing viewers to step into the beam of light and change its appearance.
The Hamburger Bahnhof will be showing works that McCall created beginning in 2003 after a 20-year break. While the early works are shown on 16 mm film, his more recent works are digital projections whose complex forms can only be created with the aid of computers. McCall’s horizontal works will be exhibited for the first time alongside his more recent vertical works, which bathe the exhibition space and the viewer in sculptural light.Curated by Henriette Huldisch.
Photographs by Paco Arteaga
It is not novel for multimedia performances to have a strong corporeal profile primarily using gestures or actions coming from outside of the performer’s body. However, the inside of the body can also be a very vital and diverse source of material for artistic purposes. This approach changes the paradigm of the gestural expression, bringing the processes going on under one’s skin to the fore.
BodyControlled #4 – Bio Interfacing presents three performances using data collected from inside the human body: the EEG waves-based audio-visual performance INsideOUT by Claudia Robles Angel, Seas of Tranquility by Peter Kirn and Marco Donnarumma’s Music for Flesh II, where sounds are produced – and controlled – by his muscles.
A keynote presented by Hasso-Plattner-Institute’s investigator Pedro Lopes discusses ‘’Human-Computer Interaction: Artistic and Scientific perspectives on augmenting our bodies’’. In conjunction with the events of the performance night, anyone could learn more about the artists’ methods by taking part in the workshops presented by Claudia Robles Angel and Marco Donnarumma. Also, it was possible to come to LEAP in the 2 evenings after the performance night, and try out the instruments that were on display at the Open Stage.
Performances and Installations by Marco Donnarumma (IT), Claudia Robles Angel (CO) and Peter Kirn (US) in the videos below by order of mention. At the end, slideshow from Pedro Lopes speech.