Alexander Forbes
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Alexander Forbes' Berlin Art Brief

Setting the Art World on Fire: Artist Takes Blowtorch and Paint Bombs to Gagosian, Hirst, and more at Berlin Gallery

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The Berlin art scene took on ten of the art world’s top players last Thursday at Momentum in the Kunstquartier Bethanien, turning the oil painted faces of Hans Ulrich Obrist, Charles Saatchi, Tracey Emin, Anselm Kiefer, Anish Kapoor, Damian Hirst, Takeshi Murakami, Sir Nicolas Serota, Jeff Koons, and Larry Gagosian into tattered and painted over caricatures of slanderous proportions. “It’s like a psychiatrist’s office for the art world,” said one exhibition-goer as they slathered red paint onto the side of Gagosian’s head.

The project by Jarik Jongman, called “(de)facing revolt (2012)” is an attempt at deposing the pseudo-iconographic status that has been given to this set of individuals and the institutionalized, über-hype art world that they represent. After initial moments of trepedation, the crowd started getting almost violently into the destruction: Kiefer, for whom Jongmann was an assistant, received a Darth Vader helmet, Saatchi got a vampire getup, Gagosian turned into a remarkably good Frankenstein, while Koons embodied his inner bro-painter with a sideward facing hat and a missing tooth.

Interestingly Tracey Emin took some of the heaviest beatings, her lips scratched off with car keys, an arrow shot through her head, and paint so erratically spread that it seemed like someone was trying to erase her from memory. Hirst on the other hand, who one might have thought would turn into one giant dot, like Berlin’s attempt to put a period on the end of the YBA’s rule, was left more or less alone, simply sprouting two antennae such that he began to look like a pleasant little ladybug.

Things really got going — never mind carcinogenic — when Jongman pulled out a blowtorch, which took an eye from Murakami, a nose from Saatchi, and gave both Emin and Koons a Two-face-like skin reduction.

About Face closes Saturday, September 1 with a finissage from 19-22h, including a performance by Mariana Hahn.

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