During the winter holidays I visited Iceland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. A big tour for just 4 weeks!
I was set out to see enormous galleries, thought-provoking exhibits and inspiring permanent installations in each country. I have provided a gimps of each of the locations I visited below ⇓
Benjamin and Brecht: Thinking in Extremes
The relationship between Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht was a strange one. With very different backgrounds and influences, the critic and the poet became close to one another during the Weimar Republic.
They discussed fundamental issues about art and politics in a way that is provocative and relevant today. The exhibition at the Akademie der Künste shows the resonances from friends and enemies and moments of reception in ideas and art.
A number of works are included in the exhibit by artists that were influenced by their ideas and to a number of their unfavorable positions in society. Notably, the ongoing painting by Zoe Beloff that comically depicts traces of today’s political climate on a massive cardboard canvas.
It was a peculiar exhibit. In 2016 I went to the ‘Piccaso and his Muses’ exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery, which reminded me of this one since they both tried to present a relationship. The dynamic between two people is always different, whether friends, enemies or lovers and can never be repeated or replicated by another. It is challenging to try and show an audience all of the small details that make up the state of a relation between two people.
In Piccaso’s case, it would be easier to introduce his influencers. An audience can assume a romantic connection between the partners and focus on each of their contributions as creatives. In Benjamin and Brecht’s case, each man posed varying spectrums of hate and admiration for one another, depending on the time and place. There was never a true collaboration between the men or a time where there could be a balanced cooperation, but by laying their work and history side by side, their influences on one another is unmistakable.
They shared few things, but their love for playing chess and reading Kafka. They debated with one another heavily, in all topics ranging from Freudian scholarship, Marxism, and mysticism. It is refreshing to see an open-mindedness among people that do not share the same views, especially at a time where the public seems more and more divided.
A combination of exhibition, library, and archive in design history. Since the 1980’s their collection and exhibition of contemporary design has included pieces from industrial design, furniture making, and crafts.
“I am Black Velvet”: Erik Mortensen Haute Coutre
Interactive drawing space. ↓ A photo of my colouring!
Danish Design Now
Design and Crafts of the 20th Century
Ulf Rollof: Urgent
The exhibition “Urgent” summarizes forty years of Ulf Rollof’s artistic career in an existential and physical experience. Since the 1980s, Ulf Rollof (b. 1961) has worked with numerous mediums—sculpture, watercolour, mechanical installations, and photography. The exhibition Urgent features works, ranging from his early watercolors to photographs, from large installations to his shooting paintings and the latest large lightbox paintings.
Ulf Rollof creates art that is a dialogue with what he is experiencing. His private moments become a response to some of the universal human experiences that the audience can relate to with overwhelming force. Alarmingly, his work Lifeboat from 1990 not only speaks to his initial focus on bellow’s and the boat’s themselves as connotations to life-sustaining objects, but they are highly symbolic for the climate we encounter today with refuge lifeboats arriving on European shores like tides.
Egg Ring (1998) was meant to be a return to the beginning. The eggs symbolize life’s potential, while the rings are meant to hold the objects in simple mathematical solutions where they no longer have a prospect of life. The eggs themselves have been hollowed, emptied of their life and spirit, so they too are mere illusions.
Rollof’s work Abandonado deals in various ways with boundaries—boundaries between the organic and the artificial, and between the rational and the occult, as well as physical national boundaries. He confronts the fictional “American Dream” with the realities of the impoverished Mexican borders that have left many families in these areas as the abandoned victims for a better life in America.
One of my favorite works in the exhibit Calendar II is a collection of 114 watercolours mounted on the wall with magnets. Few are covered by clear plastic film with printed text, but they all share a natural earth-like colour scheme that ties the highly symbolic subject matter together.
Public Movement: Art, Politics and Dance
From the Gallery:
A participatory project that looks at how our body’s physical presence and movements can be used to express liberation, resistance, a political stance, and identity. The exhibited artists come from different parts of the world and have in a variety of ways taken an interest in the human body’s relationship to politics, popular culture, as well as to various public and commercial spaces.
How do we relate to the idea of a public space? Should it encourage consensus, or on the contrary, accommodate a variety of values and different ways of living? And how are we expected to look, act, and move when we step outside of the private and into the public? The exhibition offers examples of how social norms and conventions can be illuminated and challenged using the physical body as a bearer of symbolic as well as political messages.
Participating artists: Halil Altındere, Balthazar Berling, Eglė Budvytytė, Freestyle Phanatix, Khamlane Halsackda, Maria Hassabi, Oliver Herring, Sara Jordenö, Lina Lapelyte, Klara Lidén, Conny Karlsson Lundgren, Rashaad Newsome, Adam Pendleton, Emily Roysdon, and Cengiz Tekin.
PUBLIC MOVEMENT reflects Moderna Museet Malmö’s interest in working across disciplinary boundaries. Connections between visual arts, performance, and dance were earlier illuminated in the show
Sammlung Boros: Berlin’s Bunker Gallery
History (found on the Boros website):
1940’s → WWII structural intention + the original “vision for the future”
1990’s → the Techno and “Last Days of Saigon”
2000’s → Christian Boros exhibits
Like most bunkers, the Boros has an exterior that is 180 cm thick, with almost-double this as it’s roofing.
For it’s remodeling as a gallery and home in the 2000’s 1,800 tons of concrete had to be removed.
Martin Boyce: Scottish sculptor inspired by early 20th century modernism.
Andreas Eriksson: Swedish, embraces dualities (inside and outside, lightness and heaviness, illusion and reality)
He Xiangyu: golden eggs, yellow egg painting and golden teeth
Uwe Henneken: surrealist painter, contrasts of imaginary and realist technique
Yngve Holen: car parts, headlights, MRI scanner, butterfly fences and meat autopsy: what is the purpose? what is the context and how important is it? Do we know what we are using?
Sergej Jensen: “non-painter” painter, second-hand canvas, neutral colours
Friedrich Kunath: surrealist painter, folk images, retelling old german stories the “unaccepted” + sculpture in the treasure trunk
Michel Majerus: pop painter, loved ALL forms of art/images together, grad sizes and experimental with colour and texture
Fabian Marti: blown up scans of eggs- interaction between man + animal
Kris Martin: ventilation, daggers w/ microchips: the future of war is with our own hands. ” transience of human existence”
Justin Matherly: sculpture, lion and bird with crutches: strength and imperfection, the images/symbols vs. reality
Paulo Nazareth: walk across Africa, dressing gown w/ map, stamps of daggers (interaction w/ audience)
Peter Piller: Areal home shots: car wash, drawn blinds, red. “n Piller’s work the relationship between image and text is an important criteria for selection. Although others might not see anything particular, the artist has developed a delicate sensibility of the eye that al-lows him to discern the hidden qualities of photographs taken for ordinary purposes. Arranged in groups and coded by titles, the found or assembled visual material is thus placed in different contexts; thus Piller also transfers the images into a different artistic order”
Katja Novitskova: Pattern of Activation: From the Artist’s site:
“As the disappearance rate of biological species increases globally and suggests a massive human-related extinction event in the upcoming geological record, our demographic and technological advancement can be understood as “growth” of human expressivity at the expense of biodiversity. At the same time we are co-evolving and appropriating other variations of life forms to expand the human potential. In this context human activities like resource manipulation, markets and art making can be seen as ecological processes alongside other “natural” developments on earth.
The installation Pattern of Activation compresses the reality of human expressivity into an “acceleration assemblage” of formal intensities. It renders the evolutionary origins of the human psyche through the self-aware nature of an art installation pointing to the aesthetic actualization at the heart of the ascending techno-ecological expansion of human beings.
The digital image of an albino stallion circulating in the World Wide Web materializes as a digital print on aluminum dibond and takes the form of a cutout display initially used for advertisement purposes. This animal, famous for the beauty of its shape and movement, carries a genetic mutation that makes it look uniquely synthetic. Its visual intensity offers an archaic blueprint for the uncanny variety of forms rising.
The sculpture alluding to the idea of an arrow supported by a trampoline has its formal origin in a digital stock image rendering. Despite its waviness, the arrow made from semi-translucent polyurethane is rapidly expanding upwards. It appears gravity defying, yet incredibly real – like a flying snake in a rain forest jumping from one tree to the next.”
Pamela Rosary: “Stay Neutral” water bottles filled with “skin tones”- globalization and the Western/Norther Hem perspective on beauty/necessity and access (water, food and media production)
Avery Singer: abstraction and figuration. Black and white, digital and physical
Johannes Wohnseife: ads and audience: colour, images and words, braun sugar
One of the most interesting parts of the museum was the exhibit on communication.
As expected, the collection consisted of a number of communication devices through history, including members we remember like the PalmPilot, the Apple Newton and Pagers
Past yesterday’s genius was a more recent effigy that our generation is quickly trying to forget. The display “Ich und mein Passwort” (I and my passowrd) is a collection of hard covered copies of the Twitter passwords that were retrieved from a, now unremarkable, hack in 2016.
There were also a display of Captin’ Crunch cereal toys. An odd addition to the show until you notice that the plastic whistles produced a pitch that that incidentally hacked the 1960’s telephone wires so that called could be made uncharged.
The Technikmuseum’s Spectrum center displayed 4 floors of interactive models that worked with electricity and magnetism, heat and temperature, light and vision, mechanics and motion, microcosmos – macrocosmos, music and sound, seeing and perception.
Located in Karlsruhe’s central castle, the cultural-historical Landes museum consists of a thorough look at early Egyptianan artifacts, running right through to the Greko, Roman, and Middle Ages. Most notably the exhibition includes Germany’s largest collection of antiques, including war and leisure weapons, clothing, dishes, and furniture. There is even a portion of the collection dedicated to the “Turkish spoils” that arrived through the Turkish Wars in the 16th and 18th century.
Other notable works:
Berlin’s Holocost Memorial:
BMW Museum München:
Köln Central Mosque
The largest in Germany and one of the largest in Europe
A alternative neighbourhood in Berlin that is being gentrified by up-scale hotel building
The “Berlin-Clock” in central Berlin that is the first in the world to displays the time according to the principles of set theory- so the colour’s code tells the time!
Public Art in Copenhagen
On the castle grounds, Frederick the Great commissioned Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff and Innocente Bellavite to build an “natural landscape” of English models of antiquity.
Ironically, the ruins were severely damaged in 1945 and proceeded to collapse entirely. In the mid-90’s funding from UNESCO World Heritage Sites and private donation restored the works to their current condition.
The sky from the flight home, an endless sunset.