27 November 2012

BOOKS: ON BORDERS

hkw_ueber_grenzen_anne_schoenharting_c_schoenharting_ostkreuz_mittel hkw_ueber_grenzen_annette_hauschild_c_hauschild_ostkreuz_mittel hkw_ueber_grenzen_espen_eichhoefer_c_eichhoefer_ostkreuz_mittel hkw_ueber_grenzen_heinrich_voelkel_c_voelkel_ostkreuz_mittel 891001hh92 on borders _ ostkreuz _ hatjacantz verlag _ review artfridge.de
from the top: Anne Schönharting: Gerry Reynolds, katholischer Priester, Bombay Street, West Belfast, 2011 © Anne Schönharting; Annette Hauschild: Alex und Enikó, Gyönyöspata, Ungarn, 2012 © Annette Hauschild; Espen Eichhöfer: Nationalgarde, Südsudan 2012 © Espen Eichhöfer; Heinrich Völkel: UN Pufferzone, Flughafen Lefkosia, Nikosia, Zypern © Heinrich Völkel; Harald Hauswald: Bluesmesse Rummelsburg, DDR © Harald Hauswald; HATJE CANTZ Cover Image by Dawin Meckel: Vern auf Taubenjagd, Kanada 2012 © Dawin Meckel; ALL IMAGES ALSO © OSTKREUZ

"Not even death wants me", the young Palestinian Saleh says, recalling one of his many failed tries to kill himself. Saleh is a hustler, living in the middle of Tel Aviv, Isreal. His life takes place within the walls of an abandoned bus station, where he resides together with other drug-addicted homosexuals, transvestites, Christians, Muslims, Jews. The walls mark a border - not a territorial one, but one that makes the other inhabitants of Tel Aviv feel more comfortable and similarly offers shelter to the outcasts. Tobias Kruse's photographic documentation and Fritz Schaap's accompanying essay on the old "Terminal" in Tel Aviv, is one out of incredible 17 stories, printed in the exhibition catalogue "On Borders".

23 November 2012

BERLIN: FUZZY RELATIONS

Erik A. Fransen _ Fuzzy Relations _ Galerie Mikael Andersen Berlin _ photo copyright artfridge Erik A. Fransen _ Fuzzy Relations _ Galerie Mikael Andersen Berlin _ photo copyright artfridge Erik A. Fransen _ Fuzzy Relations _ Galerie Mikael Andersen Berlin _ photo copyright artfridge Erik A. Fransen _ Fuzzy Relations _ Galerie Mikael Andersen Berlin _ photo copyright artfridgeErik A. Fransen _ Fuzzy Relations _ Galerie Mikael Andersen Berlin _ photo copyright artfridgeErik A. Fransen _ Fuzzy Relations _ Galerie Mikael Andersen Berlin _ photo copyright artfridge
all from the top: exhibition "Fuzzy Relations" by Erik A. Frandsen, at Galerie Mikael Andersen, Berlin; photos by artfridge

POW WOW - A colour explosion has attacked Galerie Mikael Andersen in Berlin! The current exhibition 'Fuzzy Relations' by Danish popular artist Erik A. Frandsen (*1956) screams three-dimensionally from the top, the sides, the front and even the bottom. The bonbon-floor, consisting of monochrome, randomly assembled squares and funnily titled 'The Desert', the flower-paintings, the neon-lamp and obviously the visitors are reflected in Frandsen's stainless-steel carvings. Those mirror-like works reveal the images of flowers - a motif that the artist has been working with for several decades. 

As much as the flower is a motif that would easily lead to prejudices, in Frandsen's work it purely manifests itself as a superficiality, that is to say, a pretty tool employed to play with colour, material and shape. His still-lifes are painted with thick brushstrokes. Layer over layer, the canvas grows, dominating the initial motif. In contrast, the idea for his neon-lamp 'Frozen Moment' arose from a series of long-exposure-photos that Frandsen took while he and his wife touched each other. Their movements left a bright trace on each picture, which he adopted when shaping the lamp. The overall-impression is less 'Fuzzy' than I expected, but it is rather glamourous. Frandsen's show is an extreme juxtaposition of the contemporary and the old fashioned, and after all it is the bright colours that makes this brave combination work out smoothly. 

On the other side of the gallery, you can see Maxime Ballesteros (*1984) photo exhibit 'Straw House'. The two shows do not belong together, and perhaps attract totally different visitors, but Ballesteros work is certainly worth a look as well - its sexy, a little rock'n'roll and makes you think about quitting your job and starting a road trip. All the photos from Ballesteros show are below.

19 November 2012

BERLIN: BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK

Jannis Kounellis at Blain|Southern Berlin _ photo copyright artfridge Jannis Kounellis at Blain|Southern Berlin _ photo copyright artfridge Jannis Kounellis at Blain|Southern Berlin _ photo copyright artfridge Jannis Kounellis at Blain|Southern Berlin _ photo copyright artfridge Jannis Kounellis at Blain|Southern Berlin _ photo copyright artfridge
all images: Jannis Kounellis exhibition at Blain|Southern, Berlin; photo copyright artfridge

The material of tar pitch is extremely viscous - it is so viscous, that it was used to torture people and therefore reached a negative connotation in the German language: "Pech" suggests bad luck. In Jannis Kounellis current show at Blain|Southern in Berlin, the black substance emblematically hovers above the artworks, regardless of its brutality and its comfortless severity.
For the 1936-born Kounellis, steel and coal - multiply employed in the greek artist's solo show - assume the roles of a basis of modern society. Their heaviness is outweighted by simple black worker-jackets, which are nailed to steel frames or laid in a serpentine pattern around four circles of coal sacks. This connection instantly evokes a notion of labour, but the jackets similarly represent an anonymous figure - a shell that lost its inside.
Opposed to the jackets on steel frames, Jannis Kounellis re-introduces Kazimierz Malewicz's manifesto and positioned several black painted canvases in different sizes, measured after paintings of famous masterpieces by Goya or Caravaggio. Above each painting, the artist placed long steal beams hanging on steel bars, each carrying a long knife on a butcher's hook. The same hooks are used in the wall installation at the end of the gallery, carrying black jackets folded into a ball of textiles.
The non-colour black is not only visually apparent, but it becomes, as curator Rudi Fuchs translates for Jannis Kounellis, "the topic, the leitmotif". Art, as Fuchs explains, needs to be "terrible", it is not beautiful. But however aggressive, brutal and even viscous Kounellis black-in-black exhibition might seem, it certainly doesn't lack beauty.

13 November 2012

BERLIN: INFINITY HAS NO ACCENT

Infinity has no accent _ Halil Altındere _ photos by artfridgeInfinity has no accent _ Halil Altındere _ photos by artfridge Infinity has no accent _ Halil Altındere _ photos by artfridge Infinity has no accent _ Halil Altındere _ photos by artfridge Infinity has no accent _ Halil Altındere _ photos by artfridge
all works, including photos, sculptures and film-stills, by Halil Altındere in the show 'Infinity has no accent' at Tanas, Berlin; images by artifridge

In most parts of Europe and the USA, socially and politically critical art works have had a hard time being accepted within the last years. That might be because the western world feels more or less comfortable with its current situation or maybe just because it generally seems uncool to cry about politics. At the same time, however, it is artists like Ai Weiwei and Pussy Riot, who have been celebrated as important and liberating heroes of our generation. In the end, it always comes down to the question: Can art actually change anything?
From that perspective, it was extremely interesting to see the current exhibition by Halil Altındere, a 1971-born contemporary Turkish artist and curator with an extremely wide spectrum of work material, at Tanas Berlin. Showing art that he produced within the last five years, Altındere breaks all the rules, crosses all the borders that we perhaps imagine to be stopping him in Turkey. Gay soccer players and body builders, seductive beauty queens, ridiculous chauvinism and nationalism - criticism is his weapon. 
Originating from a painterly education, Altındere's short films reveal his liability to classic aestheticism. Colours, composition, dynamics merge into a superficially beautiful picture, that is broken with a harsh cynicism and irony. And after all, hasn't irony always been an effective weapon against political issues?

5 November 2012

COLOGNE: A STOLEN LIMESTONE

Drei Galerie Köln_Opening Samantha Bohatsch, Alice Guareschi, Rowena Harris_ artfridge.de Drei Galerie Köln_Opening Samantha Bohatsch, Alice Guareschi, Rowena Harris_ artfridge.de Drei Galerie Köln_Opening Samantha Bohatsch, Alice Guareschi, Rowena Harris_ artfridge.de Drei Galerie Köln_Opening Samantha Bohatsch, Alice Guareschi, Rowena Harris_ artfridge.de Drei Galerie Köln_Opening Samantha Bohatsch, Alice Guareschi, Rowena Harris_ artfridge.de Drei Galerie Köln_Opening Samantha Bohatsch, Alice Guareschi, Rowena Harris_ artfridge.de
from the top: image 1-2, cemented shirts 'Selenium' by Rowena Harris; image 3-6 three-piece installation 'Whenever Standing In Between Whiles' by Alice Guareschi, all images by artfridge, courtesy DREI, Cologne and the artists  

Last weekend, Cologne bursted with art events: The 10th Art Fair, the long museum night and the joint gallery opening 'Cologne Contemporaries', where 12 younger galleries, such as Jagla, Sebastian Brandel, Teapot, or DREI were open throughout the whole weekend. 
On Saturday night I visited DREI, to see their current group show including pieces by Samantha Bohatsch, Alice Guareschi and Rowena Harris. In fact, it is not actually a group show, but rather three separate solo exhibitions within one space. Already in the past, DREI has managed to curate complicated and often site-specific installation works in juxtaposition with two dimensional pieces. A recurring motif of the gallery-shows, it seems, is space, the artistic handling of spatiality and spatial quality. In the current exhibition, this is what I sensed to be the central theme.

On the gallery's ground floor Rowena Harris positioned two cemented and squared shirts, standing - shy and invisible - in a corner next to the stairway. Her colourful and abstracted prints Attachment, which are the second part of her mini-show 'Cold Compress', are similarly camouflage by the space, almost becoming absent, as they are hanging behind the windows as if they were light protectors.
In the first floor's main room, Alice Guareschi's presentation 'Whenever Standing In Between Whiles' suggests an interplay of the two- and the three-dimensional - the vertical and horizontal: a standing paravant-like mirror, a lying round-shaped labyrinth, a hanging and framed photograph. Beautiful and yet, conceptually challenging, this composition asks the visitor to interfere and disturb its invisible bond. 
The most traditional and equally narrative space is to be found in the last and smallest room of the gallery, where Samantha Bohatsch presents a textile sculpture and three manipulated museum-postcards in her mini-show 'Virginia'. Referring to Virginia Woolf, baroque and alienated clothes  suggest identificatory notions of the (artist's) body. Also Bohatsch plays with the motif of absence, as she integrates a missing white limestone as her central piece, now merely adorning the invitation cards. 

Different and similarly challenging conceptual notions behind each small presentation complicate access and understanding of an overall exhibition concept. But even if time or patience do not allow to comprehend the art works' agency, one would still recognize and acknowledge the effort that it takes to create such an aesthetic compositional interplay.