Thursday, 8 March 2012

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.

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