Exhibition Roundup (Berlin) – May

I’ve been on a five week Residency at Ard Bia Berlin since the second of May. So my monthly exhibition round-up is of exhibitions in Berlin not Dublin for a change.

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There were two exhibitions at Ard Bia while I’ve been here. The first was by the Icelandic Love Corporartion who are pictured above. The centrepiece of the exhibition was a video wearing a tent/dress pours tea with her feet.

The second was by The Centre of Attention and involved the attendees at the opening acting out scenes from a film called “Darling”. The unedited material recorded at the opening formed the main part of the exhibition. The Centre of Attention are creating a low budget cover version of this film with a changing cast of amateurs. Other scenes from the film have been previously been shot in Glasgow and Stockholm. I had my reservations about the project having heard the basic premise in advance but the experience was interesting and enjoyable.

I was generally dissapointed by the quality of work on display in most of the private galleries I visited. I saw an Olafar Elliason show that was little more than a series of slickly assembled optical tricks and numerous others show ranging from inoffensive and forgettable to the truly awful. One exception was the Galerie Max Hetzler which showed an impressive exhibition of Mona Hatoum’s works in their temporary space in Wedding. The gallery is a large, gritty, industrial space that thankfully has not been given a coat of white paint. There was a range of Hatoum’s work on display including large scuptures, photograph, works on paper and a large installation pictured below.

She also showed a work called “Hanging Garden” at the Daad Gallery.

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I saw a number of interesting photography shows in Berlin. The four nominees for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2008 were showing at C/O Berlin. I enjoyed the work of  Esko Männikkö (pictured below) and Jacob Holdt though I’m unsure of suitability of the Holt’s work to the context of an art exhibition. Holdt travelled America as a hobo in the 70s meeting, befriending and photographing some of America’s poorest people. Holdt does not consider himself an artist and shows contempt for the art world and the display of his images in museums (though he does obviously allow it). He seeks to expose the injustice and he believes racism inherent in modern America and gives lectures on the topic accompanied by his images. His website  features his images accompanied by personal anacdotes, letters to his friends and family and quotations. I missed this contexualisation when I saw the images at C/O (there is a board with thumbnails and some text but only in German).

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Also at C/O was Magnum photographer Alec Soth’s exhibition Paris/Minnistota. The Soth was commisioned by the French “Fashion Magazine” to photograph fashion shows in Paris. Soth was happy with with the quality of the photos he took in Paris but not with their “conceptual vacuousness”.  So he expanded the series back home in Minnesota using amateur models or placing designer products in landscapes. However for me this fails to make the work less vacuous. The photos of landscapes become like a “Where’s Wally” game of trying to spot the tie or the shoe or the handbag.

More interesting was Soth’s exhibtion Dog Days, Bogota at the Galerie Wohnmaschine with runs concurrently with the C/O show. The photos in this body of work (one of which is pictured below) were taken in Columbia during the two months it took for the adoption of Soth’s Columbian daughter to be finalised.

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Across the road from the Galerie Wohnmaschine at the Pool Gallery there was another interesting photography show – New American Fables by Amy Stein (see picture below)

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There was some great work on show at the Hamburger Bahnhof. There are four large paintings and sculptures by Anselm Kiefer (pictured below), numerous works by Beuys, photos, objects and the film from Mathew Barney’s Cremaster 1, sculptures by Anish Kapoor and lots more.

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They were also showing a retrospective of Wolfgang Tillman’s work. I’m not a big fan of his work and found the exhibition a bit disjointed. The title of a previous show by the artist read “if one thing matters then everything matters” which seems to sum up his pluralist attitude to the medium of photography. However I would have prefered to see a more cohesive, selective body of work. The installation is a jumble of images some framed, some just tacked on the wall. There are abstract images beside more traditional photographic images with no aparent relationship between the two. The exhibiton did feature some interesting individual works. The piece I most enjoyed a very simple video which just shows peas boiling in a pan but makes for surprisingly compelling viewing.

The big show in Berlin at the moment is the Berlin Biennial which I thought was very poor. It was full of bland, boring, international art mostly from relatively little known artists. I went to three of the venues in one day and it was quite a slog to get through so much nondescript art lacking in excitement, creativity or personality. There are over 50 artists participating in the Biennial and I  liked only 5 of the artists’ work. 

However I won’t focus too much on the negative and will just write a little about the work I did enjoy which was located at the KW Institute in Mitte and the Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum in Kreuzberg. 

Susan Hiller’s piece at the Neue National Galerie did not appeal to me much but her sound piece What Every Gardener Knows was my favourite piece in the Biennial.   The work is a compostion of various tones derived from Gregor Mendel’s laws of genetic. The composition is played every 15 minutes and the speakers are located under a pile of rocks and rubble on which the audience can sit or stand while the sounds reverberate around them (picture below).

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Also at the Sculpture park was Lars Lamann’s funny and disturbing documentary about a woman in love with the Berlin Wall which I have already written about here.

Zhao Ling’s City Scene presents us with a series of small events from oridinary life in Bejiing. A man falls of his bike and is helped by to his feet by another man, two men filmed from a rooftop argue and threaten each other with improvised weapons, an Alstation comically attempts to have sex with a much small dog at the site of the future Olympic village while numerous cyclists stop to observe.

Kohei Yoshiyuki’s series of Black and White photograhs titled Park is on view at KW. The photos show Japanese people in the seventies having sex or watching others have sex at night in a park. The photos are voyeuristic but not pornographic. Two examples are pictured below

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Finally, I enjoyed the Polish artist Ania Molska’s two projected videos at KW (pictured below). The videos are projected side by side. The first features a group of men erecting a scaffold-like sculpture in a muddy field in Poland. The second shows an upside-down squash court into which numerous balls are fired from some source off camera. The workmen talk throughout the process of constructing the sculpture. One of the workmen tells another not to curse so much as he is wearing a microphone and “that bitch can hear everything we say”. Once the sculpture is erected it serves as a platform to present the men to us. They arrange themselves on it and introduce themselves. The piece is effectively a portrait of these men.   

 The scaffold-sculpture is also presented at the sculpture park. This is superfluous in my opinion as the structure itself has little appeal outside of the context of the video.

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Exhibition Roundup – March and April

 I never did a post about exhibitions in March so I’m doing one now that features a selection of exhibitions which took place during March and April.

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  Willie Doherty, The Visitor,  2008

Willie Doherty is showing a new video work at the Douglas Hyde Gallery. Also at DHG is a exhibition by Paul Mosse featuring various materials he has compiled for the publication Leaves and Papers I-VI. The project involves six artists who were “asked to write about and illustrate, as openly as possible, their personal interests and values”. The exhibitions run from 18 April – 27 May.
 
Breaking Ground presented Art in the Life World (not sure what other world there is but there you go) in an old swimming pool in Ballymun from 28 February – 12 April 2008. It was an interesting site for an exhibition with work shown in the (empty) pool itself and in the changing rooms and showers. The show was a bit hit and miss but included some really good work. Of particular interest was Jesse Jones video of a marching band performing in the pool and Stephen Gunning’s Black and white video showing the legs and shadows of marchers in a parade.

Gillian Lawlor, Untitled, Oil on Canvas, Size 70cm x 80cm

Gillian Lawlor at the Cross Gallery.

Nina Canell, Beam Hang,  house-beam, neon, cable, foam, 3000V

Nina Canell, Slight Heat of the Eyelid at Mothertankstation 27 February – 5th April 2008

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Voyager, Michael Boran was at the Kevin kavanagh Gallery from 03 March 2008 – 29 March 2008

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Dororthy Cross Scape @ the Hugh Lane, 07 March 2008 to 12 May 2008

 An exhibition of mostly old work by Dorothy Cross which also featured two new bronze pieces. Pictured is a fox glove with fingers making up a number of the flowers as well as a group of small birds.

 

Exhibition Round up – February

There’s quite a lot of good art on view in Dublin this month. Mark Francis has an excellent exhibition of paintings at the Hugh Lane.  Some of the works take diagramatic images of sound as their starting points. These are developed to take on a more organic quality.

Slavek Kwi has a sound installation at Broadcast the new gallery in DIT on Portland Row. The work uses recorded sounds of animals such as dolphins and cicadas but the artist is interested in the abstract possibilites of working with these sounds.

Denis Mc Nulty is another artist working with sound. His show Framework/Rupture at the Green on Red  consists of sound, sculpture, animation and photographic images. the show deals with “relationship between constructed space and the experience of time”. He uses archive material, has created a raised platform using scaffolding, has made sculptural objects with sound elements, and sited a work outside the gallery on the roof of a building opposite. 


 Dennis McNulty, Installation image of flow/loop, DVD 1.5 second loop

The Kevin Kavanagh has a group exhibition that is a bit out of character for the gallery but is a similar approach to 2005’s  “was du brauchst” which also included Ulrich Vogl. Most of the work is is not particularly sellable. It features work by  Karin Brunnermeier, Graham Hudson, Gereon Krebber, Eamon O’Kane and Ulrich Vogl.  Its not a great show but the piece by Graham Hudson is kind of interesting (pictured below). There are also interesting sculptures by Gereon Krebber illustrated in a catalogue though the work he has in this show isn’t great.

Kerlin Gallery have a really good show on at the moment called PHOENIX PARK which is also a little of of character for them. Its an exhibition of work by six young artists from or living in Ireland. They are Aoife Collins, Vera Klute, Eoin McHugh, Clive Murphy, Seamus Nolan, and Sonia Shiel. I’m guessing the title in an illusion to the fact that the artists work all involve some element of the natural and the artificial. I was particularly impressed by Eoin McHugh’s work which I’ve  seen before but never liked it that much until now. For this show he has covered one end of the gallery with wallpaper printed with various drawings as well as showing a number of works on paper. Clive Murphy showed a piece of found audio tape which delineated a simple drawing of a landscape on the wall and passed through a modified tape player integrated into a plynth which played the music into the gallery. The show had a vibrant feel and it is good to see the Kerlin working with some young artists.

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Eoin Mc Hugh, 2007, Romantic Science pt. 1, mixed media on paper, 35 x 56 cm

Seamus Nolan is also showing at the Lab. The show features a cardboard caravan as its centrepiece (he’s got a police van made of bales of crushed boxes at the Kerlin). My work is on show at the same time in the exhibition space upstairs (more on that below).

Exhibition Roundup – January

This is the first of what will be a monthly feature of the blog where I will write a little bit about a selection of exhibitions I have seen.

The Green On Red  is currently showing an exhibition of Patrick Hall’s work. Most of this work was seen at his recently closed exhibition at IMMA but here there is an opportunity to see a much smaller selection of that work given a lot more space than it was at IMMA. There are also a number of new and older works that were not included in the  IMMA show on view here. The show consists of works on paper and a large painting, In the Vicinity of the Yellow Mountain (pictured below) which reminded me of Wolfgang Laib’s work.

Patrick Hall , In the Vicinity of the Yellow Mountain (2007) , oil on canvas 152 x 157cm

Project Arts Centre until 26th Jan. There is an interesting video based on a magician called the Human Card Index – Arthur Lloyd, who could produce almost any kind of printed item from one of his pockets on request, conjures images into the air telling a story. The video is a witty play with images, their meanings, and connections between them. The rest of the exhibition is unrewarding and consists of a publication some dull minimal, sculptural constructions, and a film that pretentiously projects only at random. I was in the gallery for about twenty minutes and it didn’t play during that time. I suppose this piece is intended to challenge the viewer’s assumption that they will actually get to see the artwork when they go to an exhibition – hmmm.


Auélien Froment, still from Théatre de Poche

Coline Darke’s exhibition  “The Capital Paintings”  is an installation  of 480 A4 size canvases. These paintings are the result of four years work. The Capital Paintings evolved from an earlier project by Darke (titled Capital) where he transcribed by hand the entire three volumes of Karl Marx’s ‘Das Capital’ onto 480 two dimensional objects.  He claims these objects to have been chosen at random but I do not believe this is the case. It would be impossible for an artist to make entirely random decision when he already has in mind such a predetermined overriding concept. The objects themselves would suggest some of them were chosen for their realtionship to the subject matter of Marx’s text eg a picture of Scrooge Mc Duck, a drawing of the statue of liberty in front of an american flag, a bank note, and one of the artist’s bank statements. Each of the capital paintings painstackingly represents each of the objects from “Capital” minus the handwritten text. My main experience of the work was one of partially experiencing the previous artwork “Capital” by proxy.   

During the production of “Capital” Darke became interested in Marx’s “division of commodity and production into two ‘departments’ – production of the means of production and production of the means of consumption”. From this it became clear to him that his own project effectively combined the two, the result appearing as an amalgam of traditional art production and Duchampian readymade. (text in italics quoted from the press release).

 

Colin Darke, Capital Painting

Launch is an exhibition of work by recent graduates from each of the art colleges in Dublin which I participated in last year. This year Launch has been curated by Sheena Barrett and Lee Welch. The exhibition is very different from last year’s which featured nine artists and was intentionally chaotic. This year’s show is much less cluttered and features three artists. Seamus Donovan shows drawings and animation. Tracy Hannah intervenes physically into the artificial space of existing films in two video works and Kevin Cosgrove presents a series of small figurative paintings.

The exhibition is acompanied by Projector, a selection recent graduate video work curated by Mark Garry.  Projector suffers from presenting too many video works some of which are far too long. The video that was showing when I went consisted of a single static shot showing the artist carrying out a simple action. The label on the wall informed me this would take 20 minutes – I didn’t stay. This, for me, opitimised bad video art. The work shows a lack of understanding of the medium and the experience of the audience. The work has been conceptualised by the artist and has been video used as an objective recording tool not an art medium. If video artists look to cinema and engage with the potential of the medium as well as its conceptual conent they will create more engaging work worthy of the audience’s continued attention. The exhibition runs until Jan 20th.

Nick Miller, To Sligo, Chinese & Indian Ink on Paper, 200 x 240 cm, 2007 

At the Rubicon Nick Miller is showing landscape drawings made from his mobile studio in the back of a truck.  Most of the drawings show Sligo’s distinctive Benbulben mountain. The drawings are heavily worked and there is almost no white paper visible. The accompanying text tells us that Miller uses a drill with a sanding tool when he needs to erase details. The text also comares the drawing with William Kentridge which came to my mind as well as Doublnald Teskey who also shows with the Rubicon.

The Hugh Lane is currently showing animated work by Julian Opie on O’Connell Street. This follows a show of Barry Flanagan’s work. I wonder if they are trying to do something like the Fourth Plinth project. Here is a video of a previous installation of similar work video removed from youtube.