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/
Over the past couple of years, what was one dominant media language is being enriched by reports from civic initiatives, social media, and other platforms where non-official pieces of information also have their place. Artists are contributing to different media coverage with political and activist expression, constructing parallel narratives and reporting additional stories, which can be commonly found on the Internet. Breaking the News presents the activities of a number of artists whose documentary practice, readiness to act, civic disobedience, and willingness to put themselves on the front line exemplify how they can go beyond their individual self-interests and work toward real political relevance.
Breaking the News refuses to recognize the common limit where art ends. These art-journalists speak from the position of citizens who take responsibility for the realities around them and make clear where they stand. It is on view in the exhibition in the form of screenings, the content of which changes every couple of hours or days as an immediate reaction to political events worldwide. The installation is also presented in virtual space on the 7th Berlin Biennale website, YouTube, and Facebook. These artists, acting as researchers, journalists, and witnesses, practice what Hannah Arendt described as the core of citizenship itself: the right to have rights.
Text by Artur Żmijewski and Joanna Warsza, source http://www.berlinbiennale.de/blog/en/projects/breaking-the-news-2-22284
Three pieces around the statue of “Christ the king”, VV.AA., 7th Berlin Biennale @ KW, April 26th, 2012
CHRIST THE KING by MIROSŁAW PATECKI
In 2001 Polish priest Sylwester Zawadzki came up with the idea to erect the biggest statue of Jesus Christ in the world on the outskirts of Świebodzin. The local authorities, church and citizens of the town mobilized to create this religious monument, and sculptor Mirosław Patecki was commissioned to design it. The statue Christ the King was inaugurated ten years later in November 2010, about sixty kilometers from the German-Polish border and not far from the highway and train tracks of the Berlin–Warsaw line. The figure and its base reach over fifty meters, roughly the size of a ten-story housing block. It has already attracted thousands of worshipers and pilgrims and thus contributes to bringing tourism and economic development to the structurally weak border region. There are future plans to establish a modern pilgrimage center, and to promote the statue worldwide—something that we also contribute to within the 7th Berlin Biennale.
During the exhibition the artist creates a replica of Christ’s head and turns the first floor of KW into his studio. Patecki doesn’t celebrate his artistic autonomy; rather he offers his services to the church, and that gave him the opportunity to create the giant figure of Jesus. Yet he is not really satisfied with the result. Lack of money, shoddy materials, and an unprofessional team transformed it into a dummy rather than a finished art object. But still it is able to induce religious enlightenment, and according to Patecki this is one of the roles of good art.
In the Berlin Biennale, the sculptor is given full control over the process of creation and hopefully a perfect face of Jesus will be presented to the public. The Christ the King statue confirms the institutionalized power of the Polish Catholic Church and its use of art. Bringing Christ the King into the realm of contemporary art, we try to do what the Vatican planned with its announced participation in the Venice Biennale—to show how powerful, ideological, and impressive religious art, and art in general, can be today. Not only in the new global churches in Nigeria or India, but also still in Central Europe, 100 kilometers from Berlin.
BEYOND by LOU CANTOR (collective)
Beyond documents the final phase of the construction of Christ the King in Świebodzin, when it was still not clear if the combination of compromised engineering techniques and the parish priest’s faith in the project would actually lead to its completion. For example, an unanticipated change in the dimensions of the figure caused problems with its placement, forcing it to be rotated thirty degrees to the left, so that Christ’s gaze turned away from the town toward its periphery and the outlying TESCO supermarket. The effort to erect such a monument in the middle of nowhere recalls the old saying: faith can move mountains.
Film still from “Beyond”, © Lou Cantor (Lou Cantor is a Berlin-based artist collective whose main scope of interest is grounded in intersubjectivity and interpersonal communication)
FACING THE SCENE by ANNA BARANOWSKA AND LUISE SCHRÖDER
Facing the Scene was shot in November 2010, depicts the inauguration of the statue Christ the King. It concentrates on the logistics and preparation for the event, as well as its dismantling at the end of the celebrations. Meticulously observing the church community gathered for this ritual, the film shows everything from health and safety measures to people’s genuine awe and the public manifestations of belief embodied in the sculpture. It’s a kind of anthropological investigation of how the consumption of holiness is packaged.
Film still from “Facing the Scene”, Courtesy Anna Baranowska and Luise Schröder (Anna is an artist whose work deals with collective social phenomena and the mass media landscape of our time. Luise is an artist, art mediator, and activist who is interested in aspects of history in the making and its reconstruction).
All texts by Artur Żmijewski and Joanna Warsza. Text source http://www.berlinbiennale.de/blog/en/projects/christ-the-king-by-miroslaw-patecki-22844, http://www.berlinbiennale.de/blog/en/projects/beyond-by-lou-cantor-22883 and http://www.berlinbiennale.de/blog/en/projects/„facing-the-scene”-by-anna-baranowska-and-luise-schroder-22861.
Text by Artur Żmijewsk: The film Berek (Game of Tag) was made in 1999. In it a group of people play a kid’s game. They are naked, they run around, they laugh a lot. But they are also very serious. They know where they are—in the gas chamber of a former Nazi extermination camp. Berek is about a part of history that is treated as “untouchable” and about overly painful memories, when the official commemorations of this history are not enough. The murdered people are victims—but we, the living, are also victims. And as such we need a kind of treatment or therapy, so we can create a symbolic alternative; instead of dead bodies we can see laughter and life. Berek is about how we can engage with this brutal history and work with imposed memory. It’s possible to have active access to history, and to attempt to emancipate ourselves from the trauma.
I was accused by the director of Martin-Gropius-Bau, Gereon Sievernich, of not respecting the dignity of the victims of the Holocaust, and he removed Berek from the exhibition Side by Side. Poland – Germany. A 1000 Years of Art and History, curated by Anda Rottenberg (September 23, 2011–January 9, 2012). Sievernich seems not to be conscious of the fact that acts of censorship always hurt the dignity of the living. He pretends to know what the truth is and imposes his own version of things, instead of allowing for debate.
Anthropologist Joanna Tokarska-Bakir recently sent me a comment on the controversy:
It’s interesting how the whole issue with Berek explodes now. The video is old. I would emphasize the fact that it is a way of breaking with the kitsch of the Holocaust—which is presented as the guardian of memory, while at the same time that very memory is destroyed, ensuring that the Holocaust would remain a Jewish-only issue. Your video is a way of dealing with the violent appropriation of the Holocaust—through a shock re-coding of that which has become congealed in the solemn interpretations controlled by the “high priests”.
I would also say that—and I feel it more than ever—all of us, who feel there is still a lot left to say, find it more and more difficult to reach the audience, as nobody wants to hear about the Shoah anymore. Phenomena as excessive as the Holocaust and its representations can never take their proper place—there is always too little or too much of them. (…)
The common opinion in Poland is that there is too much of them. It seems that this man [Hermann Simon, director of the New Synagogue Berlin – Centrum Judaicum Foundation, who sent a letter to Sievernich expressing his condemnation of the video], also thinks that way—he does not understand the language of art, but he is important enough for Germans to listen to him (the German complexes). Someone should explain to him, with all due respect, that he is mistaken. As a victim, he does not hold exclusive rights to the public debate. (…) In Berek you found a pseudonym for something that no one wants to hear about anymore. You tricked the Polish guardians of memory. You placed two things—nakedness and a children’s game (Berek)—in the context of memory: namely in the same situation in which Jews were murdered. And that’s a lot. That is why we are showing Berek in the 7th Berlin Biennale—to react against this impulse to censor, self-censor, and close off discussion.
data.anatomy [civic] is a new audiovisual installation by the acclaimed Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda,arising from a unique collaboration with Mitsuru Kariya, the development leader of the new Honda Civic. Exhibited as a 3-screen video projection, data.anatomy [civic] immerses viewers in an intricate yet vast audiovisual composition derived from the entire data set of the car.
The unprecedented cooperation is the result of numerous discussions. They concluded with the artist invitation to explore the complete and uncensored technical vehicle data. In his work, Ikeda abstracts the complexity of the physical object into a captivated aesthetic experience.
“The core of my work is the composition of music, materials, physical phenomena and abstract concepts. In this project the invisible multi-substance of the vehicle data is subject of my composition” said Ryoji Ikeda. “As a Japanese artist, I have great respect for Honda’s long tradition of excellence and innovation in engineering. My installation verse on the diversity of ideas, beauty and ephemeral concepts that are embodied in the car”.
“Over the past four years my team and I were dedicated to the design and development of the new Civic. The way our work is interpreted by Ryoji Ikeda is an extraordinary honour for all of us”, says Mitsuru Kariya, technical director Honda Civic. “Everyone who is involved in the project, is thrilled by the result”.
The installation opened at MUMA (Kraftwerk) Berlin on April 19th and last till May 5th 2012.
The amaaaaazinggggg video shown below was created by data.anatomy team on the installation with some insights from Ryoji
Free translation by me from original in german at http://www.mumaberlin.de/programm.html
Berlin turns 775 this year, and Galerie Peter Herrmann is contributing with a thematic reference to the anniversary through the eyes of an Afro-German artist.
Disappearance as process. Starting in 1989, Manuela Warstat began working – alongside her painting – on a poetic documentation of the changes in the city at the center of her life. Auguststraße is one of many images of the resulting photographic series that will be shown in the exhibition. Dilapidation garnished with bullet holes. So, too, the Berlin Wall on the banks of the Spree, captured by Warstat on video.
Over the course of two years, the artist was a witness to the dismantling and demolition of Berlin’s Palast der Republik on the former Schlossplatz. She documented a small, expressive series of this destructive process, compressed here for the exhibition. The dismantled monument of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels – or, the Marx-Engels-Forum – is closely related.
The rapid changes in Tiergarten Süd, the artist’s neighborhood, and Schöneberg, the next neighborhood over, provoked an unusual response to a deceased neighbor. The built environment of Walter Benjamin’s former apartment in the Kurfürstenstraße portrays his surroundings.
The 16mm film Bike and Bolex echoes Mai Hofstad Gunnes’ ongoing reflection on the construction of identity. A group of five women bycicle in circular paths while filming each other with Bolex cameras. The revolving movements captured by the five subjective cameras draws a molecular structure without a fixed center and conveys an idea of a non-hierarchical multiple subjectivity. Bolex cameras were particularly important for early television news, nature films, documentaries and avantgarde films. The 16 mm spring-wound Bolex is still a popular introductory camera in film schools.
Text source: http://www.souterrain-berlin.de/aktuell.html