each day.

so, since i’ve been here, i’ve had quite a list of things to do every day.

each day i’m trying to go to a gallery.
each day i want to do a listening project and then, each day do something towards being able to stay here for longer than 3 months.

each day some of those things are easier to do than others.

in the last week, i have seen some shit-hot artwork. and some shit. stupidly i assumed that all art in berlin must be awesome because it’s, you know, german. not so. i forgot that germans have as much bad taste as the rest of the world.

here are some of the exceptions:

essays + observations: the mistake

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a new gallery run by an english couple, this is a space after my own heart – one about conversation, critique, quality and art practice that makes no assumptions. not that i have that kind of art practice, but it’s one that i aspire to and that i love looking at. i had a fantastic conversation with matthew, one of the directors, about art, quality, conceptual laziness and german art habits. i look forward to seeing more of what they’re doing here.

haunch of venison: yoko ono, das gift

Ono hats

this is only the second time i’ve seen a yoko ono piece in the flesh – i was a bit excited. some of it was disappointingly fey, but there were parts that were beautiful: the motif of the bullet hole – viewed from telescope to a window, through winter coats and then to the back windows (via a wall). the ‘smile’ interactive work was simple and gentle, in typical ono style. i actually couldn’t help smiling as i watched smiling face after smiling face. so of course i added my own in there ­čÖé

NGBK/kunstraum bethanien: the tourist syndrome

Week 3_0016

this is a good group show, although i think the works in the NGBK space are mostly underdone. australian timothy moore has a collaborative work in there, and before i noticed who it was, i found myself liking only his work.

the works at the kunstraum, however, are much better, and speak well about transitory, migratory, icky icky tourism-ory. there are a couple of fantastic works:

an installation/photos of ‘hand drawn’ LV and gucci bags by alex auriema and senagalese helpers which were sold on the streets of naples, like your standard fakes seen in the back streets of rome, paris and athens;

photos of dystopian ‘holiday’ pics – setting up picnics on a nice bit of gravel, sunbathing on an old toilet: like anne zahalka works in desolate parking lot neglected spaces in former soviet states. (did i just say photos were great? wow! i’ve changed…). i didn’t catch who they were by – sorry!

and the best was a series of photos/dioramas about an egyptian holiday/comic adventure, egyptomaniac by collaborative team J&K. my all-time fav was horus and anubis in islamic cairo (see above).
if i had the cash, i would have bought it yesterday. laughed my arse off.

sammlung boros (the bunker)
i had heard from a reliable source that this was a super-ace collection and that you had to book 2 months in advance. when i was able to secure 2 tix within a couple of days, i jumped at the chance and dragged on of my new studio mates (a painter from RSA) along with me. as much as i wanted to completely love it, i was pretty disappointed. mostly thanks to expectations i guess.

some of the works were amazing – the shibboleth-style wooden ‘crack’, by monika sosnowska, through 3 rooms by was great, some of the olafur eliasson works were great to see (although they were smaller/stage – works of museum works, much better executed) and the space itself was impressive. but, i did leave wanting more. and i found it hard to justify to my grumbling painter friend why contemporary conceptual art was worthwhile. existential crisis much?

some of the galleries on linienstra├če in mitte are a bit crap. but i guess some of the galleries in paddington and armadale are too, so that’s OK.

two nice surprises there, though:

abnormals (i think run by italians)

they had a hybrid work cantiere corpo/corbo: video, costume remnants and illuminated duratrans of a performance. the main work was a three-part opera, performed simltaneously in three adjoining spaces. visually and experientially it was reminiscent of the cremaster code and monika tichacek’s the shadowers. sexual, dark and way kinky in parts, it was a compelling show.

neugerriemschneider: pawel althamer

Pawel Althamer 4

i forgot that i really like pawel althamer’s work. i don’t even know where i saw it first, but when i walked into the gallery, i was so relieved and excited to be seeing work that was well-constructed and in a nice white cube [sometimes they are exactly what a work needs, OK?].

if i see too many galleries, i’m not going to have time to do my own work, so it’s back to one a day for me. that seems kind of manageable. and maybe i’ll even embrace my old slacker-fantasies and not even do that.

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this is not art*

*not a post about the upcoming brilliant festival in newcastle, australia.

mauthausen walk

last week i had a free day in linz, after i’d seen enough of ars electronica, and was considering some good old-fashion sight-seeing. there’s a beautiful church on the hill i was going to see.

then i met my friend thomas‘ friend, josef. he is a guide for the mauthausen concentration camp and of course after that, i decided that i needed to go there. he was kind enough to give me a lift there (and back!) and, as well as the official audio guide, i got my own personal guide – extra info and sites that i wouldn’t have heard/seen otherwise. especially not in english.

mauthausen yard

i didn’t take many photos – i just really didn’t feel like it, but the place was amazing.

i tried to not imbue it with my own interpretation/nostalgia/meaning/drama but it was still a really loaded place. i almost didn’t go into the gaz kammer (gas chamber) because, well, i don’t even know why – i just didn’t want to trample all over that sacred space. something from learning about aboriginal history must be sinking in.

but i did go in. not to ogle, but to pay respects and to learn from the horror. if i make myself a witness, i can sign up to making sure that kind of stuff doesn’t happen anymore. the more i face it, the more i can be part of the solution, hopefully.

i cried at the women’s camp, when i heard about the hundreds of female prisoners who were shipped from other camps and forced into prostitution for the male prisoners and guards. when they returned to their original camps, they were ostracised and most didn’t make it alive. any that did were denied rights of a pension for those years in prison, because they were prostitutes – technically there were criminals.

mauthausen prison2

i marvelled at the intuitive monument that has developed in the ‘bunker’, the prison. the walls are scrawled with graffiti from younger visitors all over the world and, as yet, hasn’t been removed. it reminded me of the kiss marks at oscar wilde’s grave in paris.

at the moment, it’s the young people’s heartfelt monument, compared to the official plaques from the organisations run by adults. i think i liked this idea, although i can’t see it sticking.

after the regular tour, we drove down to the bottom of the quarry, which is now a beautiful little waterhole – a natural denkmal (monument), but it was the site of the terrible hard labour and suicide jumps.

mauthausen window2

and then we took a side tour to the gusen monument and the weirdness that is gusen village – a working burg on the sites of the massive camp: people live in the guards houses, on the site of the brothel, where the prison accommodation used to be. i think i know how indigenous australians feel a little.

i’m really glad i took the time to visit and to have a better picture of recent european history.

i kept thinking about other recent genocides, including the rwandan and sudanese genocides, wondering why the holocaust shocks us more. are we really that racist? or is it the fact that this killing was so calculated and injected into the very fabric of a very sophisticated state and public – its documents, its politics, its legal system and its media.

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isea days 2 + 3

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the last two days of isea have been jam-packed. i’m kind of glad that i need to leave on friday night, because i suspect after more late nights tonight and tomorrow night, i’m going to need an early night in very soon.

a large chunk of yesterday was punctuated with problem-solving to do with my iphone, so i missed a bunch of excellent sessions and the rest of the electronics workshop.

isea_082_1web

however, i did get to the session i had most wanted to get to – sonic strategies. 4 speakers all talking about interaction with sound, audification, sonification, mapping and the gesture of listening/playing. rachel o’dwyer from ireland, yolande harris based in the netherlands, shintaro miyazaki based in berlin and marc chia, currently based in spain via indonesia.

both shintaro, and yolande had listening/mapping elements to their work, which related to my listening/mapping works and marc, whilst not directly related, reminded me about the need to maintain the soul of music/sound/performance and that improvisation can help maintain that.

unfortunately i missed rachel’s actual presentation, but we had an excellent natter at the festival club afterwards – we both fawned over michael bull, bill smith and hearing/sound cultures publications.

alessandro ludovico moderated that session and after georg klein‘s fantastic ‘don’t call it art’ intervention, i was planning to see his presentation at really existing social media in the afternoon, when technology called. so many people have said how great it was – the slides were sent to the audience’s devices and they had to listen to (not watch) presentations. we also ended up having great discussion about the fanzine>blogger transfer phenomena at domicile later.

and speaking of domicile, last night i saw an unexpected, but super-awesome performance of UK performer infinite livez – think rick james vs radiohead vs beanie man vs peter gabriel. and maybe a bit of george clinton/sly stone in there. he totally played up on the black-man-soul image, but totally fucked with a stack of field-recording/relay/synth-beats stuff. so much so that there was some seriously terrible german dancing going on in the front. i fell in love a little bit.

today, whilst everyone was out and about through the ruhr region, i stayed in dortmund and wandered around the e-culture fair and the exhibitions. perfect day, actually.

i discovered that most of the e-culture labs/projects that i was interested in (and had the best conversations with) were from the netherlands/belgium. those low-landers know how to float my boat. v2, foam, dropstuff, and UP Labs – all doing great things with sound/public space/interventions/fashion or generally rockin’ stuff.

joyce hinterding

the trust exhibition, on the floor above, featured a few good works, but didn’t really sweep me up to suspend my belief. joyce hinterding‘s graphite sound drawings were completely rad and the robotic camera arm work (which followed you around the room) by seiko mikami was really unnerving, but really quite beautiful. carsten nicolai‘s work was an great concept and pretty intense: a light-based hypnotic work, although the placement of a sound work nearby disarmed the complete mind-bend/altered state that the work could have been. perhaps that was intentional.

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unfortunately, my biggest criticism about the symposium so far has actually been about the site that is housing e-culture fair and the trust exhibition: dortmunder U-tower. it’s an amazing building, with a fantastic media facade, but it’s still really under construction: wires are still exposed, plaster dust is everywhere, floors shut off and whole sections still behind scaffold.

the only really great thing about this is that you’re sharing the lift with workmen as you go up to the exhibition – keeps us all honest in a way. but seriously, as an audience, there are enough barriers to interacting with art, let alone media/electronic art, that physical barriers and perceived spatial barriers are kind of unhelpful, really.

/rant.

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i saw two other great exhibitions: one at MKK – full of excellent sound and interactive works. the other, agenten 2.0 a student show, which surpisingly kicked arse over some of the more ‘professional’ works. in a shopfront, it is the document of a series of interventions, actions and situations which challenge the sleepy, comfortable, gem├╝tlich public of dortmund out of their complacency. actually, i think i will write a whole post about just these two exhibitions, so i’ll cut it short here. but if you’re reading this and you’re in dortmund over the next 2 days, go to l├╝tge br├╝ckstra├če and the MKK on hansastra├če.

right now i’m off to go dancing. again. for the closing party of the e-culture fair. see you in the morning!
[which of course was written last night, but i’m fuckin’ with the time-space continuum, can’t you tell]

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ISEA2010 day 1

today was the first real day of proceedings in dortmund and it started off with a bit of a fizz. i was ill, so missed out on the first session. but the second session was a good mix of festival experience: a bit of an experimental electronics workshop, some internet catch-ups and then a few presentations on media in the public space: one establishing engaging criteria for good media/public projects –

interestingly, i’m sure that advertising planners and media buyers would have similar criteria, and a valid question was raised about what differentiates these questions for art, as opposed to, say, a children’s playground, etc.

one of the key ideas in that list was ‘challenge’. i do see that a lot of works that are not quite successful (including my own), don’t necessarily have an element of challenge to them, which is a common element within public audience.

this was furthered during lanfrance aceti’s presentation on isea2011, in istanbul, a city with many challenges in public space. seemingly good public projects challenge both audience AND artist and that perhaps artists’ work can become complacent without them.

after that, i went back to my circuit-bending workshop and finished fucking with a kids music instrument. i’ve never done anything with electronics before, so it was all new to me – but it was great fun and tomorrow i’m going to go back and insert a jack into it, so we can either amplify it, or listen to it with headphones ­čÖé

before dinner and the official opening/performance of the festival, i went to see the Heavy Matter exhibition at the Westfalen Forum. I’m a bit critical about it because quite a few exhibits were still not working and there wasn’t a lot of knowledge/understanding. It also seemed a bit derivative. But then i realised that it is a student exhibition, so maybe there’s a little more room for error.

I hope the other exhibitions aren’t also like that, though, because so far, my first impressions of the festival are good, but still a lot of unfinishedness/unpreparedness – the U-tower is still all wires and plaster dust, i had to wait a day to get my festival pass, and then a few difficulties with the wifi too – doesn’t reflect so well. but maybe it’s just first day jitters.

After the official stuff, it was over to domicile club for drinks, more performances and some excellent discussion over beer.
the germans do alcohol-free beer, which makes my life much more fun.

we covered the gamut of australian and german politics, feminism, gender studies, gentrification, media festivals and art in general.

not bad for the first day, huh.

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quick update: LDN >25

i’m currently suffering badly from a punishing hangover. except i don’t drink alcohol. so it’s just the result of punishing my body with an all-night raggahton/boombahton/dance-ahton, arriving home at 6:30 am. i haven’t had one of those for a while and, let’s face it, i’m not as young as i used to be. [although the girl i’m sharing a dorm with did the same and she’s still sleeping, so bully to her]

tomorrow will be the start of my ISEA2010 experience, so my wrap up of london is going to have to be brief. [sorry lucas, you’re wrong about me being thorough now].

so, pretending that i’m entering a competition on a cornflakes pack, here are most of the london galleries i saw in 25 words or less:

LDN19

national gallery, 18C
discovered gainsborough’s late landscapes. beautiful active figures in the environment. also drank in chardin, vigee le-brun and the french rococco titillation.

tate britain: mike nelson’s coral reef
largely uninterested by banner’s planes – kids posing underneath them, repulsive. getting lost in nelson‘s labyrinth was thrilling: FPS game + inception -styles. redeemed orwell st.

MOT: ongoing program
i like this revolving project. good selection of works – especially brian’s twitter treatise on sculpture: daily tweets transcribed onto shutter door, transferred to a weekly poster.

chisenhale: 27 senses
nordic responses to kurt schwitter’s h├╝tte. excellent theme, great space, nice works underpinned by drawing – humourous merzbau, interesting video about an exile and intriguing spatial projection.

whitechapel: alice neel, chapman bros, john latham
alice’s paintings were divine and the accompanying video accentuated them. chapmans’ story was good, etchings 7/10. john latham, new discovery – love his knowledge processes.

not that there’s a whole lot on in london right now – summer holidays has everyone shut. perhaps for the best, considering my short stay.

oh, and to add to that, i drank so much excellent coffee over those two days, that i was at once wired and embarassed for melbourne and its rapidly-declining scene. sorry.

images: major lazer from maddecent.com
s. mark gubb at concrete hermit. never laughed so hard at a gallery.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx