24 February 2012

BERLIN: "YOU KILLED ME FIRST" AT KW

KW_YKMF_07_72dpi-1 KW_YKMF_06_72dpiKW_YKMF_02_72dpi  KW_YKMF_15_72dpi KW_YKMF_13a_72dpi
film stills from top: 1+2 Richard Kern and Nick Zedd "The Manhattan Love Suicides: Thrust In Me", 1985; David Wojnarowicz and Phil Zwickler "Fear of Disclosure: Psycho-Social Implications of HIV Revelation", 1989; Richard Kern "Fingered", 1986; Richard Kern "X is Y", 1990; courtesy the artists

It felt like entering Berghain, or some other Techno Club, when I walked through the first hallway at KW's current exhibition "You killed me first". Black light, darkness, loud music. Kunstwerke - Institute for Contemporary Art dedicates a large show, staged on four floors only containing short films, to the Cinema of Transgression - an avantgardistic, low-budget and New York-based art movement from the 1980s and early 1990s. "Any film that doesn't shock isn't worth looking at", their manifesto claims and continues, "all values must be challenged, nothing is sacred." Nick Zedd, Richard Kern, David Wojnarowicz and the other members certainly did not respect borders and much less anything that could be sacred. Rather the opposite: Rock' n' Roll, sex, suicide, rage, rape, drugs - this show is hardcore in every sense. No surprise that it only welcomes visitors over 18 years.

6 February 2012

AMY'S LONDON: MEANS WITHOUT ENDS

Daniel Sturgis 'The Social Question'  Ian Davenport 'Puddle Painting (Yellow Lime Green Study)'  Mark Francis 'Duality'installation view
from top: Daniel Sturgis 'The Social Question', Ian Davenport 'Puddle Painting (Yellow Lime Green Study)', Mark Francis 'Duality', installation view (sculpture to the right by DJ Simpson 'Isovist')

In a small but elegant gallery space, in a small but elegant courtyard behind Regent’s Street is a exhibition which demonstrates, in an equally restrained way, why abstract painting – after the clamour of Pollock and the silence of Minimalism - still has big things to say. Means Without Ends (at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery until February 18th) brings together four contemporary painters, Mark Francis, Ian Davenport, DJ Simpson and Daniel Sturgis, all working within the archetypal abstract tradition which privileges line – as both form and gesture – as the expression of a vital dynamism.

3 February 2012

COLOGNE: "BEFORE THE LAW" AT MUSEUM LUDWIG

Althamer Chan  Lehanka Ausstellungsansicht_1
from top: Pawel Althamer, Bródno People © Pawel Althamer, Courtesy Sammlung Goetz; Paul Chan, Sade for Sade's sake © Courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali; Marko Lehanka, Ohne Titel (Bauerndenkmal) © Marko Lehanka; Thomas Schütte, Vater Staat © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011, Zoe Leonard, Tree © Zoe Leonard

"Before the Law" ("Vor dem Gesetz"), a title borrowed from the infamous short story by Franz Kafka, is an astonishing exhibition at Museum Ludwig, showing sculptural post-war works. Contemporary and older artists, such as Bruce Nauman, Pawel Althammer, Alberto Giacometti, Joseph Beuys and Paul Chan, are assembled to discuss the individual's role, its dignity and its power in relation to the state. "Vater Staat" by Thomas Schütte and "
untitled: staircase" by Phyllida Barlow visualize the state's and system's giantness - its force - with monumental sculptures. Other works, as for instance the untitled farmers' monument by Marko Lehanka deal with rituals, intoxicating riots or possible revolutions. My favorite piece, however, is the silent, several-hours-long video projection "Sade for Sade's sake" by Paul Chan. It exposes a naked and trembling society that seems to be located in a frightening dystopian time: everybody is fornicating each other, crawling on the floor, pulling and pushing each other. Humankind is transformed into an anarchistic group of animals, simply following its instincts. The piece is hypnotizing and disturbing - revealing a nightmarish end (or a possible restart) of our society, as if it was silently and desperately screaming the sentence "human dignity is inviolable".
The exhibition is not preaching, its rather food for thoughts: As a mass confronted with the government - how much power do we really have? How much can we chance to the better? And how much dignity do we really have left?