260109: Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin: Anish Kapoor – Memory

Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin: Anish Kapoor – Memory Egg-mazement The first impression leaves you with something disconcertingly grotesque. Whatever it is that is piling up in front of us, it definitely does not belong here, seems to have made its way by mistake to the German Guggenheim: a rusty red colossus, which seems like it was stranded, hopelessly stuck between the walls, the ceiling, and the floor of the now depressingly narrow White Cube. It seems as if an - for the time being - unknown object had an accident: a submarine? An airship? Maybe even an UFO shaped like a humungous egg? However, this mystery won’t be solved – on the contrary, there are more to come. Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor installed “Memory” in such a way, that the observer has no chance to see the object from all sides, as it is impossible to walk around it. The two perspectives, which are allocated to the onlooker - one from the main entrance and the other from an emergency exit – show two distinctly different halves, each offering individual conclusions with respect to the form and size of the entire object, whereby not only the “what” but also the “why” of the object becomes questionable. This asymmetry is, however, only part of a fundamental ambivalence, by which this work is so clearly distinguished and with which it probably plays intentionally, circling around the poles of statics and dynamics as well as heaviness and lightness: the sculpture, which – a novelty in Kapoor’s choice of material – was created with Corten-steel, appears surprisingly weightless despite its 24 tons, for which the Guggenheim floor had to be especially fortified. On account of its minimal contact with the floor, it does not convey the feeling of anything heavy or oppressive, and – because of its balloon-like appearance it conveys something light, as if it were levitating. And this in turn addresses the next dichotomy: namely its suppressed movement, which - in contrast to a balloon, whose intrinsic factor is motion –forces the object to stay in one place: the balloon is simply stuck. And there are more unfathomable ambiguities constituted by this sculpture. Kapoor decided to make the inside of the object accessible: via a breakthrough in the wall of the museum shop on can enter the object and see – nothing. To be exact: a black nothing. With reference to art history one would say: we see a black plane, whose resemblance to Malevich’s Black Square is no coincidence. Only after entering deeper into the object our eyes gradually perceive, or at least surmise, its dimension and actual size. The entirety of the inside, on account of the cleverly thought out wall opening, is difficult to perceive. The inside of the sculpture is contrived in the same immeasurability as the outside - its size cannot be objectively determined. Therefore, the onlooker therefore has to judge the sculpture on his own accord, and has to assemble the views, which he kept in his memory – after all; the object was not titles “Memory” to no purpose - into a uniform perception. Whereby “Memory” proves to be an “open art work”, which needs this type of a viewer for its completion - a factor, which finds a splendid symbol with the open window in the wall. The window, oscillating between two- and three dimensionality and which could also avow for Alberti’s finestra aperta; and the illusionism could also refer to Plato’s allegory of the cave, whose fundamental arrangement – the view into a cave, light coming in from the back, shadows – finds itself repeated here. In short: “Memory” presents a huge aesthetic, phenomenological, and epistemological challenge. And whatever that is able to accomplish must also be great art. Peter Kunitzky Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin 10117 Berlin, Unter den Linden 13 – 15, until 01.02.09 www.deutsche-guggenheim-berlin.de

Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin
10117 Berlin, Unter den Linden 13 - 15
Tel: 0049 (0) 30 20 20 93 0, Fax: 0049 (0) 30 20 20 93 20
Email: berlin.guggenheim@db.com

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