Monday, 26 March 2012

C8H8 Exhibition

Ive just published a page for the recent C8H8 exhibition i created with Eleanor Osmond and Nicola Reeve. Have a look and hopefully it all makes sense and you get a good view of what the exhibition was about and the amazing amount of feedback we got from the people who came!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Hamburger Bahnhof, 24th February

The Hamburger Bahnhof was another big gallery we viewed in Berlin, about a 10 minute walk from our hotel right outside the Hauptbahnhof train station. All the work was from contemporary artists, with some exhibitions and other rooms full of art to buy.

As my personal art practice relates to the process of ordering objects, materials, data etc. an exhibition which really interested me was a room filled with oblong stone structures, a reminder for me of almost body/mummy/coffin- like structures with circular markings at ends to look like holes where faces would be, placed in what looked to be random separation on the floor, so you were able to walk throught the room, weaving in between these arrangements. The stone was of a sandy texture and colour, with unco-ordinating numbers drawn in chalk/ white paint of the ends of them, although not every structure was catalogued in this way. Planks of wood had been added underneath the stone structures as support and there was a contraption for moving the stones, with a handle, almost like a lever. The work was created by german artist Joseph Beuys, whose work mainly revolved around subjects of the World War and Auschwitz, maybe these relate to bodies/ soldiers/ victims of some of these horrors worldly known or experienced personally by Beuys himself.

When experiencing the work, there was a great sense that it was a temporary piece of work, that it could be moved at any time or was in the porcess of being moved around, that the art work was not quite finished or to the artist's satsfaction yet. Walking in between the structures, reminded me of walking through a graveyard, not only becasue of the body- like shape of them but the unnaturally shaped stone was a reminder of head stones on a grave.

For my own personal work, i took photos of the numbers written on some of the stones, as shown below. The process of numbering the stones shows some sense of ordering and handling of data, but the fact the stones shown in the exhibition had no correspondence to each other but just as random numbers, there is also a lack of organisation.

Another memorable exhibtion from the Hamburger Bahnhof was called 'DB' by japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda, whose seperated but still linked installations at opposite ends of the gallery experimented with pitch in continuous sound, and continuous numbers/ fuzzy white noise/ dark and light/ white and black etc. Here is the desciption of the exhibition on the wall outside the exhibition:

'Japanese composer and visual artist Ryoji Ikeda has conceived an exhibition for the Hamburger Bahnhof that, for the first time, compositionally unites the two symmetrical halls on the upper level of the museum's east and west wings. The exhibition's title 'DB', derived from the word decibel, refers to this symmetry whilst simultaneously indicating the complementary relationship between the two exhibition spaces. Ikeda has designed the white room and the black room as counterparts. The project is a composition in which time and space and shaped through the most minimal use of sound, light and visual elements.'

Experiencing this exhibition was very surreal, and visiting both rooms were on completely other ends of the spectrum and had a totally different effect on me. I visited the white room first, which was so white we had to wear plastic shoe protecters to keep the floor perfectly white. The room had a massive speaker at one end, which is the same for both the white and black room, eminating from it was an extremely high pitched note, something which caused me to leave the room after a short visit; the noise was something that would definately send you mad after prolongingly hearing it. Here are some photos of the white room below.

In the black room, the layout was pretty much the same, the differences being the pitched note being eminated from the speaker was a lot lower, obviously the room was pitch black. But the variations were the bright white light sourec throwing a beam o light onto the opposite wall, creating a pathway through the centre. At symmetrical points at the sides of the room, there were numerous projections showing a continuous flow of numbers being formed/ processed that looked almost fuzzy, and then the numbers suddenely freezing for a moment. The numbers in this room made me feel like everything was rushing past me really quickly and i was stuck in the present.

Another thing worth mentioning which i almost forgot was that on entering the rooms, walls outside showed lines of 'D' versus 'B' words, which corresponded to each other. Photos below give you the idea of what this was about, but reading the words down the wall gave you a sense of the opposites shown in the whole exhibition (white/ black, dark/ light, good/ bad, heaven/ hell, tranquility/ disturbance).

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Jewish Museum, 23rd February

As well as the Jewish Memorial, we went to the Museum to add to our knowledge. The building itself was very peculiar, the architecture was spectacular, as you can see from the picture below. Even as we walked around, the height and size of rooms and corridors changed unexpectedly and the gradient of the floors, which made it seem at times as though we were far underground. Navigating around the museum was very difficult and it took us a long time to actually find our way out again.

The architect Daniel Libeskind created empty spaces in several parts of the building. These so- called voids extend vertically through the entire museum and represent the absence of Jews from German society.

Photo: Aerial view of the Jewish Museum Berlin

As for the information and resources within the museum, some of the things we experienced were very eye- opening, for instance the reconstruction of a gas chamber we were able to go into and visualise was very moving. The coldness and darkness of the chamber and the echoes of our voices jumping off the concrete walls was quite unnerving and you could really visualise what it would have been like for the jews who experienced death in a place like this. Holes ran in vertical lines at intersections on all walls, where the gas would have been pumped into the room.

Another room we saw which had an intense atmosphere was another gas chamber, this time filled with iron moulds of masked faces, representing the mass of deaths in the holocaust. The installation was composed by israeli artist Menache Kadishman, who calls his installation 'Shalekhet' or 'Fallen Leaves'. He has dedicated the over 10,000 faces covering the floor to all innocent victims of war and violence.


Walking through a park in Berlin i noticed bizarrely that every single tree was numbered which i thought was quite an obsessive thing to do to something as natural as a tree, the contrast between this seemed uncanny, why try to tame something already so wild? I have recorded this in some photographs below, in numbered order.

The Berlinische Galerie, 23rd February

'Rapport', Jurgen Mayer

The Berlinische Galerie was one of the best galleries of the whole trip, very big with lots of rooms and even the chance to meet one of the artists in a current exhibition there. I gained a lot of useful knowledge from well known to more contemporary artists. The contemporary work of Jurgen Mayer was the first work i saw in the gallery and the artwork that engaged me most. Mayer has an international reputation for his innovative buildings, objects and installations. Since the mid 1900s he has been collecting patterns found on the inside of envelopes from banks, insurance companies and public agencies; pattern and collecting is something i am currently exploring in my own art practice.

For the Berlinische Galerie, Jurgen Mayer has created a work that spans the whole wall and floor of a room, turning a black and grey data security pattern into a space- filling installation made of carpet where forms and structures flow in and out, which challenges the eye into realising what the black forms actually are. The title of the exhibit is called 'Rapport', which is a technical term used in the textile industry to designate a basic element in a pattern repeated across a surface. Another connotation is 'report', while in psychology it refers to a relationship between two people on the same wavelength who 'give back something they receive', which altogether stands for the objective of the artist, which is to treat architecture as communication. For more info:

Standing so close to the artwork, it was very difficult for me to see that the work was a collaboration of interweaving numbers. Here are some photos i took of the exhibition which show the work closer and further away to expose its meaning.

'Time Is Out Of Joint', Boris Mikhailov

Boris Mikhailov's exhibition is a mixture of his life's work, a selection of photographs that illustrate the experimental images of his earlier years to the more recently produced in Berlin. Spanning his whole life, Mikhailov has 'exhausted the medium's full range of possibilities with great virtuosity... continuing investigations into photographic techniques... a wide range of cameras and stylistic means.'

Description on entering the exhibition:
'Photography was not seen as an art form in the Soviet Union. People who took photographs were either amateurs or journalists. Nor was Boris Mikhailov known officially as a photographer in Soviet days. That did not prevent him from living his artistic inclinations to the full. The company that employed him as an engineer even let him make a short film about the factory, but when rude photos he had taken privately were confiscated on the grounds of 'pornographic content', he lost his job as a result.' And yet those forbidden pictures brought him the freedom to engage in art photography beyond the confines of recognised art.
Mikhailov's creativity resulted in a diverse range of photographs. from his first series 'Superimpositions' (1968- 1975) to the cycles that made his name, like 'Red Series' (1968- 1975) and 'Salt Lake' (1986) and his most recent work produced in Berlin, 'In The Street' (since 2000). His techniques are as versatile and encompassing as his subject matter: he experiments with slides and he alienates photographs by colouring them manually or combining them with handwritten notes. By constantly developing new approaches, Mikhailov has taken the medium of photography forward in conceptual terms.
His career as a well known artist began with the collapse of the Soviet Union, when he was able to work and exhibit abroad with the aid of bursaries. In 1996, he spent a year in Berlin, funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). In 2000 he made a permanent home in the city, and since then he has travelled back and forth between Germany and Ukraine, where he still produces most of his photographic work.'

After looking round the exhibition myself, already familiar with some of his work, we were lucky enough to come to the gallery on the day of his presentation and press interview and meet him (see photos below).

One of my favourite techniques this artist uses is the application of colour over his photographs, either realistic to the picture or a completely random use of colour, produced in the early 60s to late 70s. Many of these pictures are relevant to Soviet citizens in everyday situations, initially without social criticism, which he would add to his work at a later stage, layering on top.


'Sans Titre'


I really enjoyed this exhibition as it was interesting to see how an original image could be editted to mean something completely different, for example, the naked woman on her knees means something altered with the peacock feathers added. Another part of the exhibition i liked was a series of pictures focussing on the homeless community, exposing their naked bodies to the camera and their distressed faces. To me, it illustrates the fact we see homeless people in everyday life, but the way their bodies have been shown, demonstrates that although we may see them differently from other people, (i.e we ignore them in the street, stereotype them etc) they are just the same as everyone else.