Monday, October 09, 2006
So finally back on board here, after a long patch of travel and work. When traveling, I always hold this fantasy that I will get ahead on some reading and thus bring along several thick books. Of course I never crack these but do manage to read the airline magazine and gift guide and generally suffer through some bad film on both legs of the journey. You’ll be glad to know I held to form with my Berlin trip. X-Men and Xanax or Michel deCerteau? Who’s gonna win that one right? I had hoped to blog but I found out quickly that it was not to be done with so many late nights and jet lag. Next time perhaps because I sincerely feel I missed something in not blogging on the run. At least I “finally” got to see Devil Wears Prada as a consolation prize...wretched.
Anywho, on to Berlin. Artists should be proud in the fact that I did not go to Art Forum art fair as planned (despite a free ticket) – we all hate the fairs so it seemed more appropriate to head to the Holocaust Memorial and the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum while there. The payoff was huge. I hit the memorial around 10:00 am so the crowd was small but enough to experience some of the intended tension and mystery of the site. The sun was really cresting at this time and shot through the concrete corridors with laser precision. Wandering the lanes of constantly shifting altitude, piercing sunlight and momentary glimpses of others in the periphery was quite intense on 3 hours of sleep. Ghostly and profound, my thoughts strayed to the narrative of the atrocities and the stories of several friends who had relatives directly involved. I also couldn’t help but think of the graveyards in New Orleans as well – the above ground tombs that create labrinyths of past lives. It was a striking connection about abandonment. The memorial is Peter Eisenman’s masterpiece and a real triumph of how art/architecture can convey the human experience, even a dark chapter with integrity, abstract beauty and solitude. I know what the critics think but I found it a place of reflection.
From there I made my way to the Mitte to hit some galleries, etc. Most of the offerings were quite dull and I was disappointed but happy to have some decent coffee. While in that area I did manage to see some video works by Mika Rottenberg and Jen DeNike at Kunst Werk, the Institute for Contemporary Art. Solid works by Rottenberg and DeNike but I was a little disinterested in the Aaron Young pieces. Great venue to see video though.
Building on the video theme, I was happily impressed by the shows at the Hamburger Bahnhof which is a former train station come art museum. Spectacular space and so many good shows I had trouble getting out of there. Imagine this list at any NY Museum: Joseph Beuys, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, The Atlas Group, and the best video show I have EVER seen in one place: “Beyond Cinema: The Art of Projection Films.Videos and Installations from 1963-2005”. The works primarily came from the Flick and Kramlich Collections It was such an expertly installed show expect for perhaps what may be a mistake with the Peter Campus piece. I don’t think I have ever dedicated so much time to viewing video, nearly 2 hours on a single visit with no sleep – that should say plenty. I’d love to recap each one but it’s impossible. I’ll just say that I did get emotionally swept up with Pipilotti Rist smashing car windows with a flower. I was tweaked enough to crave each and every blow to the unsuspecting autos. Awesome.
The rest of the trip was art related work. Long conferences, etc. I did get to meet and spend time with some great people along the way. So to name drop a few: Mathilde Rosier, Lu Jie, Kay Pallister, and many more. The social side was mostly a few random bars and a fairly delinquent night at the famed Paris Bar (and later King Kong). Perhaps past its prime but I’m a tourist sucker for history (and the free flowing wine) surrounded by donated artworks (some famous) from the past 50 years was too good to pass up. At moments you get that Cold War nostalgia mixed with the 19th century French Boheme mythology. Good stuff when you’re wasted!
So a brief taste, but Berlin seems to be a great place to be right now with tons of ex-pats from the US, France, UK, etc. -the hype may be true, Berlin is the new Center. The NY artists I met seem to be truly in love with place and want to stay for awhile. The support they are experiencing and the cost of living is too good to give up for that million dollar a month studio in Bushwick it seems. The best part is I never once was asked about or heard the word Chelsea!