Alexander Forbes
Alexander Forbes' take on Berlin beyond the hype

Alexander Forbes' Berlin Art Brief

Archive for the ‘Contemporary Art’ Category

70 Exhibitors Celebrate Holiday Greed in Zurich

It’s safe to say quite a few early Christmas gifts were nabbed at last week’s Miami fairs. But, does reclassifying artworks as consumable items of holiday cheer, home ornamentations, or pieces of personal pride downgrade their cultural clout? Such is the question of co-curators Carson Chan and Marie Egger in their current show “Come All Ye Faithful” at Florian Christopher in Zurich. (more…)

Top 5 Berlin Shows of the Week

A Ciria biopic, Leo Gabin’s new film premiere at Peres Projects, Nathan Carter’s Esther Schipper solo, Anthony McCall at Spruth Magers and Ingrid Furre at Dan Gunn top our list of Berlin openings for the weekend of November 21st-24th. (more…)

Portrait: Entering Maki Na Kamura’s Landscape of Pictures

In September of 2005 an unannounced painting exhibition went up in the ground floor of Fasanenstraße 69. Rumors circulated. A newspaper ad was placed, which read, “Ist das eine Ausstellung? Gehört Maki Na Kamura derweil zur Kunstwelt?” (Is this an exhibition? Does Maki Na Kamura belong in the art world?) — More whispers and articles. But, by the time Art Forum rolled around at the end of the month and the art scene took off its sleeping mask, ready to see the show, the works had already been taken down in a purposeful wink at the art spectacle.

Honored this month for her win of the seventh annual Falkenrot Preis 2013 with an exhibition of nearly 50 of her works at Berlin’s Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Maki Na Kamura might have more appropriately posed herself the question, “Does she care if she belongs to the art world?” Really, it probably depends which art world is meant. The trend-bound world of art stars, YouTube remixers, and flash in the pan conceptualism she’d likely let float on by. “That’s not how it is with me; it’s not that simple,” she says of peers’ practices, which take their root in current events or ephemeral moments in contemporary culture. But that art world’s rather more patient, historically driven cousin, that might well be of interest. “Up to this point, what I have truly dealt with are pictures from the 18th and 19th centuries, really perfectly modern pictures,” she explains. (more…)

Heavy Foot Traffic and Pacey Sales at Art.Fair Cologne

Now in its 11th year, Art.Fair Cologne continued to gain prominence on the fall fair circuit in its 2013 edition. With 36,000 in total, more visitors than ever roamed the halls of Cologne’s Staatenhaus am Rheinpark over the fair’s five day run. And though nearly half of that total visited during the vernissage, a wealth of serious collectors were among them, leaving a bounty of sales in their wake and reason for Art.Fair to call its 2013 edition its most successful to date. (more…)

Francesco Clemente on Nomadic Tendencies in His Exhibition at Blain Southern Berlin

Francesco Clemente’s first Berlin show in six years is a definitive effort at a Gesamtkunstwerk. Bridging installation, painting, drawing, and sculpture, Clemente has created three unique tents within the former Tagespiegel building’s cavernous hall painted and scrawled on, embroidered and eventually inhabited. Produced in India, where the Italian-American artist has spent a good portion of his time, the tents allow the viewer to enter his painterly world. The visual language, symbols, brushstrokes, and figures are familiar, but entering the tents allows for an experiential understanding of Clemente’s work that standing in front of a flat painting might otherwise deny. (more…)

Berlin Art Picks: David Renggli, Benja Sachau, Gwenneth Boelens, and more

B.Wurtz, David Renggli, Benja Sachau, Gwenneth Boelens, and Awst & Walter with Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson top our list of must see Berlin art exhibitions for the weekend of November 1st. (more…)

Review: Vienna’s Curated By Sets Focus on Painting for 2013 Edition

Where festival concepts are concerned, one titled “Why Painting Now?” as is Vienna’s annual curatorial fête, Curated By, might as well be phrased as, “Why Not Painting Now?” Safety is assured by the medium’s shear market dominance. As seen last month in Berlin with “Painting Forever!” — a slightly more tongue in cheek phraseology that melds both art historical and economic forces in opposition to voices that might otherwise decry canvas’s anachronism — there’s really not much that can be said against a solid display of mark making material on a flat surface. The theme attracts shrugged critical shoulders, “Sure, why not’s,” and actually, a lot of great work.

To, head curator of Curated By’s fifth edition, Eva Maria Stadler’s credit, “Why Painting Now?” also gives the invited international curators — Gürsoy Dogtas, John Peter Nilsson, Lucie Drová, Franklin Melendez, Jan Verwoert, Martin Prinzhorn, Lina Dzuverovic, Sophie O’Brien, Anthony Hudek, Gerwald Rockenschaub, Bart van der Heide, Christiane Meyer-Stoll, Ei Arakawa, Tyler Coburn, Miguel Wandschneider, Nav Haq, Antonia Lotz, Caroline Smulders, Marion Piffer Damiani, and Yve-Alain Bois — a practically unrestricted playing field on which to set their individual artistic agendas. (more…)

Keith Edmier Reflects on Young Nuns and Old Masters at Berlin’s neugerriemschneider

Walking through the medieval European Gallery of the Met last year, New York based artist Keith Edmier happened upon a 14th century sculptural depiction of the Visitation. Attributed to Master Heinrich of Constance, it’s a curious rendition in which the Virgin Mary and St. Elizabeth’s wombs are carved from their chest cavities, covered over with vertical ovals of silver like a locket. For Edmier, this was just one of several jumping off pointes for “Crystalline Wombs and Pregnant Hearts,” currently on view at Berlin’s neugerriemschneider.

The exhibition takes its name from an essay by Jacqueline Jung about that sculpture Edmier happened upon in the Met. “It led me to this question of what it would be like to be a young nun in contemporary society,” he says. Many a YouTube documentary later and Edmier found Sister Alicia Torres, a young Chicagoan — Edmier is as well, though he says her home town didn’t play into his fascination — who entered the church after college. “She had glasses and a wristwatch, elements that take it into the present,” he explains of the elements that drew him towards Torres. “I wanted to portray a symbolic, spiritual manifestation of pregnancy through the material and formal language of medieval Visitation sculpture.” (more…)

Dor Guez on His Film “40 Days” and Artistically Bridging the Personal and Political

Dor Guez’s latest video and photographic installation, “40 Days” is deceptively simple in its execution. On one side of its current showing at Berlin’s Carlier Gebauer, homemade video footage rolls by with the handheld camera being rested on a side table or kitchen countertop while Guez speaks with elder family members about the desecration of Christian Palestinian cemeteries in his home town of Lod. Located about 15 kilometers southeast of Tel Aviv (it’s also home to Israel’s Ben Gurion airport), the city is home to a little over 1000 members of this minority within a minority, or 1.5% of the city’s population, of which Guez’s family is also a member. In the adjacent room, high dynamic range scans of photographs Guez’s late grandfather Jakob took documenting one such instance of desecration are displayed as large format photographic prints, some even showing the decomposing skeletal remains, which lay beneath the shattered headstones.

Though on one hand a highly personal story — at the end of the film we see Jakob’s memorial service, which ostensibly precludes his interment in just such a cemetery — the highly affective result is much more wide reaching. “40 Days” is as much a story of repeated persecution and the blind eye cast on minority, disenfranchised issues regardless of their face, as it is of the specific conditions that Guez’s family faces in Lod. Here, Guez speaks with BLOUIN ARTINFO’s Alexander Forbes about making that leap and the project at large. (more…)

Paris Project Space Shanaynay on their Temporal Exhibition Program for ABC

Founded by Parisian Romain Chenais and L.A. expat Jason Hwang in 2011, independent exhibition space Shanaynay has invigorated the cultural scene in Paris’s 20th Arrondissement with a steady flow of curated shows featuring artists such as Kirsten Pieroth, Nina Canell, and Liam Gillik, as well as many lesser-known artists. For its Art Berlin Contemporary project, “Upcoming Exhibitions,” Shanaynay has devised an innovative exhibition format, giving 14 international project spaces — Cleopatra’s, Ohio, Generation Works, Gasconade, 1857, Bétonsalon, Am Nuden Da, Treize, Works Sited, The Ister, Auto Italia South East, Lulu, Peles Empire, and New Theater — a two-hour slot on a specially designed stage to do essentially as they please. Alexander Forbes talked to Chenais and Hwang about the decisions behind their innovative offering. (more…)