110110: Berlinische Galerie: BERLIN 89/09 – Art between traces of the past and utopian futures

Berlinische Galerie: BERLIN 89/09 – Art between traces of the past and utopian futures 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall - the next anniversary: 20 years of unification. The era that commenced immediately following the unification is still difficult to separate from the present day. It therefore makes sense that the exhibition focusss on this gap. But the exhibition is not very convincing: the central theme seemed to be Berlin; at least that was the credo. And the Berlinische Gallery failed to see itself as an interesting starting point, especially considering its own instable history: from its founding as an association in 1975 to its current premises in Berlin Kreuzberg. “The capital Berlin, rumpled by excavators, is drowning in optimism” the head of the Neue Berliner Kunstverein, Marius Babias described the atmosphere in the years immediately after the fall of the Wall, and points to the significant ambivalence: the euphoria following the unification, the awareness that one was experiencing a substantial caesura, and simultaneously the disillusionment in view of exaggerated expectations and ambitions. Even detached from the unbelievable “Eastalgia”-wave, a quiet melancholy spreads with reference to what remains of the GDR. And because it has always been difficult to visualize ideologies or collective sentiment, architecture offered a remedy: Tacita Dean (“Palast” 2005) devotes herself to the demolished Palace of the Republic by catching distorted reflections in windows panes and thereby translates the deceptive part of this quickly glorified motif into a nostalgia-drained picture language. Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani are interested in the prestigious GDR building as well as the club scene of the new Berlin, and create small monuments. By reconstructing the buildings of the so-called Eastern Modernism, Karsten Konrad’s works “Lost Island” (2004) and “GDR (outside)” (2005) attempt to save them from obsolescence. How strongly Berlin’s landscape was characterized by building sites becomes apparent with the numerous contributions, including Lois Weinberger’s gardening interventions in urban space, Arwed Messmer’s bleak impressions of the famous Potsdam Square as a despairing steppe or Reynold Reynold’s staccato-like sequencing of photos, which becomes even more intense through the impressive 2-canal video installation accompanied by rapidly recited text passages (“Stadtplan”, 2005). And Delbrügge & de Moll’s work “Artist Migration Berlin” (2006) offers the most apt commentary on the situation of the still ongoing art-hype: low rents, the abundance of cultural events and the even today tangible transition of the city, are still good reasons to move to Berlin. But in the video interviews with artists from other countries, who talk about their experiences in Berlin, this glorified image begins to falter – “poor, but sexy” simply remains to be an unfortunate phrase. By Naoko Kaltschmidt Berlinische Galerie 10969 Berlin, Alte Jakobstrasse 124 – 128, until 15.02.10 http://www.berlinischegalerie.de

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