8 December 2011


Group Shot - performersSHOP interior 1    Opening PughShop Interior 3 Opening performance 2
all images Courtesy ShowStudio     

Aggressive; exhibitionistic; self-flagellatory. Three words vividly evoked by the performances, sculptures and images on display at "In Your Face", a new exhibition which opened last Thursday at London’s ShowStudio. The space itself is the physical component of fashion uber-photographer Nick Knight’s slick web-platform of the same name. Dedicated to the slippery genre of fashion film, showstudio.com celebrates the pageantry and peacockry of fashion at it’s performative best. Aggressive, exhibitionistic, self-flagellatory. Three words that could equally be applied to the primal drives of the fashion industry itself, and its often brutal excesses.
Centred on a contextually apt if overly facile preoccupation with the corporeal, the show’s star-studded ranks include Mapplethorpe’s heroic, photographic rendering of the male body as structural form, Leigh Bowery-esque bondage gear from fashion’s enfant terrible, Gareth Pugh, and painter Anj Smith’s darkly surreal portrait, R.F. This is a show about fetishisation, about the overwhelming objectness of the body and its perverse, almost excessive presence.

4 December 2011


view of Abu Dhabi from Saadiyat IslandAbu Dhabi Art, 2011 Ground floor Keith Haring $4.5mln work at Galerie Enrico Navarra UAE Pavillion by Sir Norman Foster 
from above: view to Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi Art, Keith Haring $4.5mln work at Galerie Enrico Navarra, UAE Pavillion by Sir Norman Foster 

This year’s edition of the Abu Dhabi Art has taken the event to a whole new level. The fair moved to the new premises – UAE Pavilion designed by Sir Norman Foster in Saadiyat Island. The island is the future home for planned projects such as Le Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. While both museums are still under construction, the art fair should generate excitement and establish strong link with contemporary art in the area.

Abu Dhabi Art positions itself as a boutique-sized platform for the contemporary art: fewer galleries and a reasonable size of exhibition space. It is possible to see the entire fair in an hour. Boutique also means the most prominent international art galleries that bring selections of the most popular works by their best artists. This new context had a positive effect on the fair’s programme of talks and exhibitions. This year, the visitors had a chance to encounter iconic art dealers, such as Larry Gagosian and David Zwirner. There was also a wide range of contemporary artists, from the young Algerian star Adel Abdessemed to the market leaders, such as Jeff Koons. The discussion about the position of the Middle Eastern art scene within the global art world that included Peter Sloterdijk and Salah Hassan was another pleasant surprise of this year’s public programme.

1 December 2011


IMG_3792 IMG_3789 HN_OH_Lineal IMG_3783
Hase, Feierlichkeit III, Feierlichkeit II, Feierlichkeit I, Haus, all images produced in 2011, Courtesy the artist and Figge von Rosen Galerie, Berlin

Perhaps, we all share a love-hate relationship with Christmas: We start Christmas shopping with ambition and thoughts for our loved-ones, but eventually we find ourselves just right in the middle of a capitalistic christmas-hell. The Swiss artist Nic Hess (*1968) temporarily transformed into Santa's Little Helper and now confronts us with this ambiguity. His current exhibition "Season's Greetings" at Figge von Rosen Gallery in Berlin de-mystifies the tradition and even forces a cute hare to hysterically escape the christmas madness through the concrete wall.

The Christmas tree "Feierlichkeit II" is projected onto the wall via an old-school overhead projector and a loop-holed Aldi bag. Therefore, it decodes this comforting and holy symbol literally into something quite flat - simply by juxtaposing it to the discounter-shopping bag. His center piece, titled "House", seems to imitate a ginger bread and, again, plays with symbols of familiar brands. Hess' cynical view, however, doesn't only point at others' stupidity, but rather ironically comes back to himself - or should I say, to his large-scaled noses. Well, Happy Christmas then.