Text: Lily Fürstenow-Khositashvili
“History is a Warm Gun captures a current trend in art production and accompanies the selection of the artists in a seismographic way. The exhibition outlines a wide range of questions that are picked up by a younger generation of artists and that are dedicated to the mutual contemplation of past and present with recourse to historical and personal events.“
This curatorial statement introducing the series of exhibitions by artists fellows of the Fine Arts Scholarship of the Berlin Senate at the neuer.berliner. kunstverein emphasises the sensation of time in history and the various modes of its artistic expression. The concept of art as process extrapolating itself on the perception of history as process can hardly be denied yet what finally matters is art itself.
Art invoking history, as for example history painting, used to be the hallmark of the old tradition of the academic Salon painting held at Palais Royale starting 1667. In the course of art history however, as we all know, Salon painting, that used to be selected by the notorious Salon jury, has been triumphantly overshadowed by the “Salon des Refusés.”
Only time can tell which of the artists currently exhibited at the n.b.k will make it into the annals of art history. Some of the displayed works pose more of a challenge than others, and it's common knowledge that viewing the “new” might require more time, effort and energy than one would be willing to invest. Visitors have to be prepared for lengthy texts explaining the artworks and artists intentions, more printed descriptive texts in artist booklets sadly enough lacking illustrations of the objects described, documentations of certain events drawing on artistic experiment with archival aesthetics but rather out of sync, dark rooms in literal sense playing on suspense and trying one's patience, blurred snapshots, the trivial, the insignificant so characteristic of history and more.
With this in mind when it comes to history: public or private, one would willingly follow artist Dirk Bell's attitude of “doing nothing” as he gracefully put it in a spectacularly encrypted script of his across one of the inner walls of the exhibition space. His site-specific work that uses visually impressive, austere formal vocabulary plays with the notion of “nix tun” and the process of doing: e.g. making an artwork or deciphering it by the visitors, simultaneously referring to the image of an artist as idle and impartial observer, whereas his window installation analyses centuries-old motive of frames and windows in art history.
The work of Bram Braam is, unlike others, quite an eye-catcher in terms of singularity of formal vocabulary, the ability to transform and organise space, establishing a certain dialogue with the surrounding environment. The artist has talent to match and combine forms and materials that at first glance seem incompatible but somehow, as if by chance, fall in place. His “Transition of Structures” reinterprets anew the avant-garde artistic lineage introducing a visual interplay of the transparent and the opaque, polished and rough, unstable edgy and balanced. Speaking of spaces, his work, as he put it, refers, among others to Berlin as a metropolis that has been subject to severe transitions and transformations during recent history: Berlin wall, east-side gallery, continuous construction sites deforming the original city landscape, etc.
No doubt history is much about guns, wars and maybe global warming as the title of the exhibition “History is a Warm Gun” would indicate. It refers according to the curatorial statement to the Beatles song “Happiness is a Warm Gun.” Yet it remains rather unclear what Beatles and their songs have to do with works of the artists participating in the exhibition. Maybe if it comes to predicting the future the next n.b.k. show will be entitled “Guns and Roses”?
Artists: Claudia Angelmaier, Dirk Bell, Bram Braam, Aleksandra Domanović, Shahram Entekhabi, Christian Falsnaes, Dani Gal, Andreas Greiner, Assaf Gruber, Kerstin Honeit, Sven Johne, Eva Könnemann, Rivka Rinn, Sonya Schönberger, Pola Sieverding, Natalia Stachon
Curator: Britta Schmitz
Thursday, March 5, 2015, 7 pm
Back to the Future – Civilizational Histories in Visual Arts
Panel discussion with Susanne von Falkenhausen (Professor of Modern Art History, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin), Judith Welter (collection curator Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich) and Hilke Thode-Arora (curator, Five Continents Museum, Munich), moderated by Britta Schmitz (Chief Curator of Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin)
Thursday, March 19, 2015, 7 pm
Panel discussion with Christian Falsnaes (artist, Berlin), Kerstin Honeit (artist, Berlin), and Sonya Schönberger (artist, Berlin), moderated by Kathleen Rahn (Director Kunstverein Hannover)
Sunday, April 26, 2015, 8 pm
Gut Plays Gut – Her History
DJ gig by Gudrun Gut