October 31, 2015

Vlogging Thibaut De Ruyter! "Digitale Demenz (Artificial Intelligence)" at Eigen + Art Lab

Thibaut de Ruyter and I looking at the smart phone,
which ended up being a stupid phone.

My favourite Berlin Art Week exhibition was the one curated by Thibaut de Ruyter at Eigen + Art Lab: Digitale Demenz (Artificial Intelligence). I'd seen Thibaut de Ruyter around before - I knew he's also a blogger, which is, of course, über-cool. I knew he's doing a new art magazine in Kazakhstan, which is also über-something. So, you see, I knew a bit, but I wanted to know more. So I asked Thibaut de Ruyter if I could interview him about this Best Exhibition of Fall 2015. And he agreed. Here is our talk - in essence it's about technology failing, and funnily enough, it was my own smartphone camera that let me down in the end. I included all the "behind the scenes", holding nothing back - you can have it all - 15 minutes and 29 seconds of Thibaut de Ruyter!

PS: The exhibition at Eigen + Art Lab just finished, but don't despair - it will travel around Germany, so keep an eye out!

October 30, 2015

Guest Blogger Sujin Jung Reporting from South-Korea: Alice’s Adventures in Invisible Land of Love

Sujin Jung, art blogger in Seoul, is writing for us a fiction non-fiction series about art life in South-Korea. Last week you could read her story about the museum Plateau, this week Sujin Jung talks about MMCA (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) and its Hyundai Motor Series 2015, featuring Ahn Kyuchul - Invisible Land of LoveSep.15, 2015 - Feb.14, 2016. 

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister in the park and of having nothing to do. Once or twice she had peeped into her sister’s meditation, but it had no visual or word in it, “and what is the use of the meditation,” thought Alice, “without visual or word?” 

Suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes passed close by her, riding a Segway. “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” It was good enough to mesmerise her. She ran across the park after it and was just in time to see it pop down a large manhole. In another moment, Alice went down after it!

Kyuchul Ahn, Nine Goldfish, 2015

Down, down and down. It was so deep. She was getting less and less stable. 

“I need my mobile. Where am I? I need to check map application! Is wifi available here?”

Unfortunately, however, her phone was in her sister’s handbag. A little while later, Alice found herself in water. She could not understand how she could breathe, though.  A Red Fish was in her sight, so she decided to go there and ask where she is at the moment.  Even though she thought it is so silly that she was thinking to ask a direction to a Fish, a Red fish was the only one to ask there.
“Hello? Can you hear me? Where am I? How can I be in water just like you?”
“I don’t know.” 
After hearing Fish’s answer, Alice was so surprised by the fact that she was talking with a Fish.
“Do you live here alone”
“How long have you been here?”
“I don’t know. ”
The Red Fish kept moving forward while answering bluntly. 
“Where are you going?”
“I am going nowhere, I am just circling.”
“I don’t know.” The Red Fish still answered so bluntly.
The Red fish reminded Alice of her father. 
“Well, my father is also sort of circling. He always seems lonely. Work, home, and work again…” she murmured.  
The Red Fish was no longer to be seen. She did not know what to do, just found one pebble. As soon as she touched it, she was suddenly teleported outside the water. She could not understand how she could get into that tiny pond. Not much later, her mind started to wander, by seeing nine red fishes in the pond revolving in nine separate concentric tracks. The nine fishes could not see each other, they just kept circling around. Alice thought they looked so lonesome. 

“The Red Fish is my father. The Redder Fish in the third track is my friend, Ellen’s father. And that Reddest Fish in the outermost track is Robert’s father..” She murmured again.  

Kyuchul Ahn, Time of Plants II, 2015

Kyuchul Ahn, 64 Rooms, 2015

In front of her were big green plants. Exactly fifteen flowerpots were in the air. Alice thought it looked like a mobil. There were two kind of movements; the flowerpots made a horizontal movement by rotating at a fixed height and each plant made a vertical movement by slowly growing at their own pace. This state of tension between a horizontal movement and a vertical movement reminded Alice of the subtle tension between ‘sound’ and ‘image’. Her sister always said that she prefers images, as words could make the situation too dramatic, whereas an image is the raw thing. However, whenever her sister told her so, Alice thought that images are not that pure and could be easily misunderstood. That moment, one guard came to her with wariness.

“What’s wrong with you? Don’t touch it, kiddo. This mobil is really really sensitive.”
Alice was delighted that she had guessed before this was  a mobil. 
“I knew it! It is a green plants’ mobil, but I felt uncomfortable, like something is missing. I want to see something more sensational.”
“It is already sensational enough. It is an artwork. Look at it again.”
“Well, it is just plenty of plants. Is it art?”
“These green plants are in here, they are art now, not just plants. You have to see some invisible things through visible things.”

Alice thought that it was ridiculous, this seeing of invisible things, and she needed to explore a sort of memorable sensorial experience which is good enough to tweet. That moment, suddenly everything became dark. Alice could not see anything. And there was nothing but sound.

“Confront invisible truths.”
“Who are you? What are these invisible truths? Just tell me, please.”
“Pause for a moment, and try it.”

Kyuchul Ahn, The Pianist and the Tuner, 2015

It didn’t take long before Alice could see everything again. It was bright, images came up. Never a dull moment, piano music sounded from the other side. Alice stealthily came up to The Pianist.

“Hello, how are you? What are you doing here?”
“I play the piano every afternoon at 3 o’clock.”
“Oh is it 3 o’clock now? Oh my sister might worry about me… oh my!”
Suddenly the tuner came to them. 
“Hey, I’ll let you in on a secret, every day, I remove one piano hammer a day. So, Today is much closer to the complete silence than yesterday.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“This is a performance about presence and absence.”
“Hmm…is it meant to be meaningful for you?”
“Yes, this is about meaning and meaninglessness. Try to think about something meaningful that you are missing at the moment, try to see invisible things through these visible things.”
“Hmm….well…I think I don’t understand……too many words and too much images in my world…”
“You already knew that. Be aware of that.”

Kyuchul Ahn, 1,000 Scribes, 2015

Kyuchul Ahn, Wall of Memories, 2015
Alice was confused, so she just said good-bye to them. She thought it was too late, so she had to go back to her sister. At that time, she found the piano hammer on the road like the snack in ‘Hansel and Gretel’, the famous fairy tale.

"They are being deconstructed. Is it meaningful or meaningless that it’s being apart from the order of the world? Does seeing invisible things means reconstructing these deconstructed things?"

However, unlike that snack from the fairy tale, she felt something fortunate about scattered piano hammers. And, in a few minutes, she met one Elderly Woman with White Hair, following the pieces of piano hammers.

“Oh, this is your turn, right?”
“Well, what do you mean? By the way, where am I now?”
“This is the Invisible Land of Love. It is filled with the things which do not exist ‘here and now’. Follow me, this way!”
Alice just followed the Elderly Woman with White hair without even knowing the reason.  There was a tower where she could view the whole land. And there was the ‘scribe’s room’. 
“Now, you can transcribe the ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka for one hour on the desk in this room.”
“Why should I do that? If you need the copy of this book, I can send you a link of an e-book. ”
“It’s not to copy the book. It is to make something new. Have you ever written something recently?”
“Nope. No one needs to write something anymore. We use our smartphone. ”

The Elderly Woman just looked at me but said nothing. Alice went into the room and started to transcribe. One hour later, Alice finished writing and went out of the room. 

“Now, you are not alone, kid. Did you see the nine gold fishes?”
“Well, I saw Red Fishes.”
“Haha fair enough, they seem red, true. You might notice that they are solitary beings. But you are not alone now. After you, another person will come here and do the transcribing.  You are now engaged in solidarity. ”
Alice’s grandfather’s saying came to her mind. Her grandfather used to be an artist. He always said that ‘there are too much gaps between artists, we should band together…’
“Oh, now I have to meet another new-comer. Do you have anything you have missed or longed for?  Please leave me a note. Bye-bye! I have to go now!”
“Ok, well… bye!”
“Oh, I almost forgot to say! There is a pencil and memo-note! Bye for now!”
Alice wrote; that café latte which you bought me for the first time. There were a bunch of memos from others, and it looked like a poem. 

Kyuchul Ahn, Room of Silence, 2015
‘Hmm… I also have to go…where should I go?’

While walking, Alice found a large spherical space, that was empty inside. No words, text, images, sound, and any visible things. Suddenly she felt a little bit afraid of that silence from nothing, but soon, she tried to think about invisible things……

"Wake up, Alice dear!" said her sister.
"Why, what a long sleep you've had"
"Oh, I've had such a curious dream!" said Alice. And she told her sister, as well as she could remember them, all these strange adventures of hers that you have just been reading about. Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as well as she could, what a wonderful dream it had been.


MMCA HYUNDAI MOTOR SERIES is the MMCA (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art)’s  10-year long program inaugurated in collaboration with Hyundai Motor Company in 2014 to reinforce the foundation of Korean art and culture. Ahn Kyuchul is the second distinguished Korean artist of this program. 
But talking about MMCA itself, MMCA’s director is the hottest issue in South Korean art scene. After the resignation of the former director caused by being accused of favoritism, that position has remained vacant for about one year. Culture Ministry already failed to pick a new director because of academic factionalism (well, they said nothing but everyone knows), and now announced that they are considering a foreign director in that there are no boundaries when it comes to contemporary art. Well, personally I do not disagree with this, only if he or she is competent and understands very well the South Korea art scene. Actually I think it could be a turning point toward abolishing academic factionalism (Seoul National University vs. Hongik University). However, there are some people who strongly disagree in that it is a sort of voluntary colonization. Well, to be honest, I do not understand that kind of opinion at all. Maybe, this is because I have little understanding how significant the MMCA director is. However, before talking like that, I think we must think at first about what it means to ‘be familiar with the Korean art scene and community’. Being Korean does not mean having knowledge about the Korean art scene. We need to admit how appalling we are at the moment and just find a better way! So simple!

October 28, 2015

Art Blogger of the Week: Johny ML in Dehli, India

By All Means Necessary comes immediately across as a blog of an engaged and critical mind-set - one that questions art history's darlings, cherishes an idealism, and strives for nothing less than freedom. Even his blog's title has an urgency to it. Exceptional is also that Johny ML is a full-time art writer. As such, he has founded magazines, and he has also expanded his practice as a curator and a director of art documentaries. I came upon Johny ML in a video interview of Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi where he talks about the evolution of art criticism in India during the boom time, how art criticism has become the scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in the art world, and the lack of vision of new galleries. All this critical thinking Johny ML does with a great sense of humour. A treat, yes it is! You can also follow him on Facebook

Art Scene
"The Indian art scene is a very vibrant one. Though there are some common traits that define the country as well as the citizens, India is very vast and varied geographically, politically, socially and culturally. Different streams of art are pursued by both academically educated and self trained artists and many of them are doing pretty well in the market. Considering the cultural variety of India, I cannot say that we have a common kind of modern or contemporary art practice. Our modernity was largely defined by the western education and interestingly contemporary art too takes sustenance from the global trends. However, I would say, we have produced distinct modernist trends and very competent contemporary styles in art. During the modern times, that is till 1980s, the basic idea of the artists was to match up to the western trends and also as a parallel stream there developed a search for indigenous modernism. Despite the frictions that these two streams had, it was capable of creating a modernist discourse which later laid the foundation stone for post-modernism, which for the first time attempted to touch upon subaltern subjectivities. Before it could bloom completely, with the changing of market trends, contemporary art started flourishing in this country. Though Indian contemporary art stands at par with the global trends, it has also been successful in showcasing India’s peculiar contemporaneity, which is a mixture of the urban and the rural sensibilities. 

Indian contemporary art is intricately connected with the global scenario not only in terms of aesthetics but also in terms of its market. International auction houses have started working from India and they have already started highlighting the later modernists. Sooner than later these houses would pick up the first generation contemporary art for validation in the auction circuit. 

At present, ironically, tribal and folk art are promoted in the market circuit rather than the contemporary works of art and it should be based on a growing demand for the very pure aesthetic sensibilities and products from the patrons who had been promoting the contemporary art in India till recently. Interestingly, this shift in focus is also reportedly having some connection with the global aesthetical climate changes." 

"I started writing my blog, ‘By All Means Necessary’ in 2008. I have completed seven years in blogging this year. I came to online publishing in 2005 with the publication of an online platform called mattersofart.com. In the very next year I launched www.artconcerns.com and ran it for four years before winding it up. I also edited Cart an Art, an online journal and currently I edit Art Tehelka published by Sushma Sabnis in Mumbai. In the meanwhile I started blogging thinking that there was so much to write and comment upon beyond officially publishing online journals. Once I started blogging, it became a passion. I write not only on art but also on culture, politics, society and people. I like blogging because it is spontaneous and no editor is breathing down on your neck. You don’t have any deadline to meet or any world limit to stick to. You could publish a post from anywhere at any time. Blogging is publishing sans frontiers. I have connected with many people from different parts of the world who came seeking after reading some of my posts. I even had got an opportunity to write the biography of a horse rider and entrepreneur living in London through his Indian agent. Initial meetings were done but as I was not so keen to go into it, writing a stranger’s biography, I did not pursue. Then the proposal itself withered away. 

For me writing is something integral to my personality. I think in words; artists must be thinking in colours, lines and forms and musicians in notes. A sight gets simultaneously translated into a narrative in my mind. It is so instantaneous a process that I do not have any control over it. As a writer I could only give a twist or direction to that narrative. Hence, I do not distinguish between art writing and any other kind of writing. Everything is creative for me. I do not know whether it is an inbuilt nature or a cultivated discipline. I have been writing since I learnt to write letters on a paper. But to be a writer you have to have your researcher mode on throughout your life. A writer literally does not have a holiday. He/she should be brain dead to take a holiday. If his brain is active it would narrate a holiday even! I am an art critic and a historian by training and there is no day left without researching on art. If someone asks me what I do for a living, I tell them, I read and write. They look at me with disbelief in their eyes for I am not a celebrated writer with major commissions lined up. But I firmly believe that I could live by writing by all means necessary. I have read somewhere that the first and foremost quality of a writer is his ability to sit in one place for a long time, writing. I can spend my life in my studio. Somehow I am not connected to other bloggers; nor do I read many blogs." 

"I come from English Literature background. That defines my writing. At the same time I come from Art History and Criticism, and also from Creative Curating. I studied in different places and countries. My writing is informed of my education. My expertise lies in my thorough grip on Indian contemporary art vis a vis the global contemporary art scenario. I could write about Indian contemporary art at any given time. I need not rush to a library or google search for information. I do not do much in my life. I have involved in politics. I am a state leader of a political party though I would like to be on its intellectual side. I read history, political history and art history, besides reading all what is latest in literature and art. My interest in culture is eclectic and I spend a lot of time studying popular culture, photography and cinema. These things have contributed definitely to my art writing."

"Blogspot offers a monetising option. I am not a fortune hunter and my writings are not about increasing readership or advertising. I do not monetise my blog in this conventional sense. I consider blogging as a sort of window display; it is here you show your work and obviously your talent is out there for sale. When I say sale it is not in a vulgar way; it is a sort of showcasing your abilities so that people could approach me with commissions. I do get my writing assignments through the blog only. People read me and they come to get their exhibitions written about or reviewed. I take money for writing a catalogue. But never accept bribe or payment to do a review in my blog. That is my policy. I do not accept advances for writing because if you receive an advance you automatically become contract bound to perform. I value my freedom so that I could write at my leisure. But once I deliver my work, I insist they pay immediately. A committed writer is someone who finishes his work within deadlines and treats all the commissions alike." 

October 27, 2015

A Girl Called Jonny. Insitu, Jerry Saltz, Sex and Money

Jonny at insitu

Insitu is one of my favourite art places in town, and even the way to get there is fun. Sometimes I come from the left and then I pass my favourite park in town, Gleisdreieckpark, and if the weather is nice, I’ll buy a drink at this cute coffee shack in the Schräbergarten. If I come from the right, which is Potsdamer Straße, then I go to Rossmann because I love drugstores (remember the toilet paper?). Drugstores are comforting places to me - all these rows of wellness products, inviting you to pick the right bottle with the most attractive design for the most promising result. When visiting insitu, I tend to go for the food section, and pick a Capri-Sun (such a great name for a drink) and some spiced nuts. The nuts were out last Thursday and I took an oatmeal cookie instead. So there I was, strolling Kurfürstenstraße while happily sucking the straw of my Capri-Sun and nibbling my cookie. Upon arriving I had to wait a few seconds before entering, since I didn’t want to make my entrance as cookie monster, and the oatmeal stuff was sticking to my teeth. Sorry for the nasty details, but it’s important to understand that especially in the case of insitu, you can’t enter with things stuck to or in between your teeth. You see, there are stairs to enter the exhibition space of insitu, and, unlike most art spaces, you have to descend those stairs, not climb them. There was a reason why Marcel Duchamp painted his nude descending the stairs, you know. It feels different when going upstairs, I guess because it’s harder work to go up and you’re inevitably reminded of your bodily failures. I once had a job interview 5 floors up without elevator, and upon arriving I joked that they could see I’m fit for the job. (Let me just say that I didn’t get that job.) Going downstairs, on the other hand, is really easy and it makes you feel light and high. It is bound to give you a feeling of “showtime!”, in particular when there are people watching you while descending those stairs.

Anyway, I descended the insitu stairs last Thursday to see the exhibition Jonny. That night it was particularly exciting because the space was made dark and had a mirroring ceiling. On the subway I had been reading Grace Jones’ memoirs intensively, so insitu made me feel as if I had arrived in a nightclub and some stars were about to shine. Small screens  all over the place displayed sensual images. Yet let me say up front that I didn't get further than this first impression. I was busy talking to the insitu team, and then suddenly it was full house. I found an empty bench in the back, where the headphones were tuned in on the song A Girl Called Jonny: “She is my narcotic lollipop (I put my fingers in his mouth).” A friend of mine had told me the day before that I should write more sexy and erotic art reviews (“that-doesn't-or-does-make-me-wet” kind of reviews, so he suggested). Sex sells, of course. Listening to A Girl Called Jonny I got the luminous idea that I could be the female equivalent of New York Times art critic Jerry Saltz who has this erotic art Instagram going on. As always, I was not able to keep the great idea to myself so I started talking to the man sitting next to me, who turned out to be the artist Ulrich Vogl. It was very funny because Ulrich Vogl then told me he had been a student of Jerry Saltz himself! I love it when I almost meet my art stars (so much better than meeting them in person - now I could get all the gossip)!  Ulrich Vogl told me that while studying in New York, he got weekly half hours of tête à tête with Jerry Saltz. Saltz encouraged artists to write (he himself being a former painter), and to do so in a generous way, observing what others were able to reach and where oneself lacked behind. Saltz also told him to adapt the style of your art review to the style of the exhibition. If it’s a sensual exhibition, your should be writing about it in a sensual way. Exactly my point!  

So why am I talking so much about writing this sensual art review about insitu’s newest exhibition Jonny, instead of just writing it, you’ll ask. Well, you heard about the power of anticipation, didn’t you? I’m just warming you up, my dear reader. More will follow very soon... In the meantime, here is the VLOG interview I did with the amazing insitu team - check it out! We're not talking about sex, but about another very interesting topic: money! If you get 30.000 Euros, what are you gonna do with it?

October 23, 2015

Guest Blogger Sujin Jung Reporting from South-Korea: Airport Is Not Your Sweet Home

I introduced Sujin Jung to you as an art blogger of the week and told you that she has a kind of plastic art writing going on: pink, easy, fictional, fun (haha!) and critical at the same time. But since her blog is in Korean, I asked Sujin if she would like to do some reporting from South-Korea in English. And she agreed! Here it is: the first part of a series in fiction non-fiction. 

Plateau in Seoul

Have you ever misread security as insecurity at the airport as Olive did in Elizabeth Strout's book Olive KitteridgeMy answer is yes. However, going to the airport is quite fun, because it marks the real start of the journey. In my town, there is a well-known lab operated by a magician duo, Elmgreen and Dragset, they are known for changing one place into another one. This is why, every month, we have to check if any change has been happening in town. This month, their subject was the white cube: an art museum was transformed into an airport. Well, it is interesting that both places share the characteristic that one just stays there for a while, and both have a quite romantic image in films, isn’t it? Haha

Elmgreen & Dragset, Departures, 2015

Elmgreen & Dragset, The Traveler, 2015

Good morning. This is an announcement for all passengers traveling on the 7:23 flight COQ1018 to Highgarden. This flight is delayed by two hours because of bad weather.

Aw… Technology will never win from nature! As usual, there are a bunch of people who are leaving quickly while others are stuck in here like me. I think the airport is an emotional rather than a romantic place, because there are a bunch of quite emotional people at the moment saying good-bye or how are you, etc. Well, these emotional sceneries always make me feel so lonely, like I have no one to say sweet things to me. However, I am used to this lonely feeling as a citizen who lives in these days, so this shitty feeling is just for a while. Now, I have plenty of time, so I bring out my book, A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary written by Alain de Botton. I bought this book a long time ago, but did not finish reading it yet. It just became my must-item to bring to the airport. Maybe I will have finished reading it by my 10th travel in 2020, haha. Or maybe I could try reading it together with the many people around here at the moment, hahaha

Elmgreen & Dragset, I Am Thinking of You, 2007

Elmgreen & Dragset, Restricted Goods, 2015

It is already time to go to queue in the line for security check. Misreading a security line as an insecurity one is not that strange, especially at the airport, because it is such an insecure place. I have to reveal my private and personal things, and also care about others. If I see something is put on the airport floor, then my first thought might be, is it a bomb? The airport is not a sweet home, but a dangerous place. And this feeling to be controlled lasts quite long, because I have to pass several hurdles like security check. Security check is just a start. 

This is an announcement for passengers traveling to Highgarden on flight COQ1018. Will all passengers with express boarding tickets and passengers traveling with young children please go to gate 23 for boarding. That’s all passengers with express boarding tickets and passengers traveling with young children go to gate 23 for boarding. Thank you

Elmgreen & Dragset, White Maid, 2014

Now, I can take the flight……. soon! This is time for some privileged people. Well, more exactly, for special people. In the airport, I have not only to reveal myself but also realise which stage I am in now in the hierarchy system. I have traveled many times, but I have never been to first class lounge. Is there anyone who knows how it looks like? We have this kind of thing in our life a lot. My friend, whose major is painting, has to choose her professor’s style. Well, she goes to the university just in order to find and develop her own style, but it is just a sort of copy, which is mandatory. Otherwise, she cannot get an opportunity. Otherwise, we cannot open the door, cannot go into any gate. This is absolutely ridiculous, isn’t it? There are tons of articles featuring how a company owner’s son or daughter goes to some university in an unfair way. It is not just a story for the news. Even in my field, some people have to try so much harder to get a certificate of curating, and other people like the art museum director’s daughter or son do not need that. Well, they can inherit their father or mother’s thing, but isn’t it fair that they also pass the certificate system? I cannot understand why this certificate system exist. Of course, that is not only because of nepotism, though. Recently one artist is found guilty of plagiarism. Why is it revealed only now? By what criteria was he chosen in the first place? Well, someone said ‘art is either plagiarism or revolution’ after all, though. Who the hell can have the power to give somebody an opportunity? In the world, and in the Korean art scene, there is a lot of the untrustworthiness and absurdity in the invisible hierarchy system related to money. I am so sick and tired of this. Anyway I am also in this system at the moment, though. Ha ha…….

Would all passengers traveling to Highgarden on flight COQ1018 please have your boarding passes and passports ready for boarding. Flight COQ1018 now boarding at gate 23. 

Finally my turn. However, it takes time to go to the gate for me. I have to make my own stairs to get there. Because flying boards are given only for special people. For these, I have gathered a special pill to be used for making stairs. To get this pill, I have to take an exam. This is one of the reasons why I cannot travel so often. It takes time! Anyway finally, it is time to enjoy my flight! Yeah!

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We have landed at JSJ airport in Highgarden where the local time is 18:30 and the temperature is 76º. We hope you have enjoyed your flight with cueorq Airlines this evening and wish you a very safe journey to your final destination.

At baggage claim area, there is one bag. Whose bag is it? It seems like no-one’s. Is it a bomb or is it drugs? Or am I too paranoid about bad news? This lonesome bag seems more solitary and dangerous when a lot of people are gathered. Well, someone might take care of this……. Anyway, I need to go out of this airport, because I am too tired and there is no space for me like my sweet home.
Oh, wait… where is my shopping bag from the duty free shop? 


Plateau is one of the art museums which are owned by Samsung. (Samsung owns in total three art museums) So, it is considered to be an art museum that has a rich and comfortable exhibition budget. Well, I am not sure though, is there anyone who can disagree with me for sure? Haha 

Samsung and the art museum: around 2008, there was a huge scandal related to money usage for purchasing an artwork, and it was suspected that it might have been used as money laundering. Whatever, the good thing is that because of that scandal, many people got to know Roy Lichtenstein’s Happy Tears. And anyway, it is the true that they holds good exhibitions with their money, well, I think… that is good, haha…

October 21, 2015

I’m going to the theatre! Or Sister Wendy, Boticelli, and the Challenge of Beauty.

I told you I don’t go to the theatre. I'm kind of a control freak and I like feel the theatre takes too much control over me. There’s no buffer. Its different with visual arts - you can escape it - you just skip it, you leave the room. Okay, It’s true that even a glimpse of bad art can ruin one’s mood for a whole day. Remember that visit of mine to the museum.... But in the theatre you’re just stuck and if it’s really bad, it sucks your energy like a vampire. It seems too much fuss to leave the theatre in the middle of a play, I’m too inhibited to make everybody get up from their chairs and make all this noise. I remember when during a theatre performance in Brussels, all the lights were turned off and the fully packed audience was in total darkness for at least 10 minutes: oh how I hated it to be at its mercy. But maybe... I should open up more to prostrating myself, to giving in? 

So I bought a ticket for Kill Your Darlings by René Pollesch at the Volksbühne. Fall somehow makes me want to go to the theater - it awakens in me this yearning for high culture in German (knowing that I will only understand half of it). It might have to do with nature dying all around, and the melancholic mood that sets in together with the eternally gray skies. It seems to ask for some drama, some acting up. I have a penchant for the Volksbühne, which promises avant-garde instead of the Faust, Shakespeare, and Schiller tradition at the Berliner Ensemble. In November, the Volksbühne is again featuring my favorite theatre play of all times, Dieter Roth’s Murmel Murmel, and I wouldn’t mind going again. It’s so good! It has no content - and it’s often the content that sickens me of theater. There’s only one word used during the whole damn 1 hour and 20 minutes play: “Murmel”. Wonderful, it shows that content is overrated. We can just relish in the plain surface of Murmel. Isn’t the surface the only part we can see anyway? At the same time Murmel is so intangible. 

They (my theater friends) told me I should see René Pollesh’s work, so that’s why I’m going to Kill your Darlings. Also because I dig the text: “Die besten Szenen werden Sie heute Abend nicht sehen, denn die würden wir alle nicht ertragen. Deswegen heißt der Abend: Kill your Darlings” (You won’t see the best scenes tonight, because we all couldn’t bear it. That’s why the evening is called: Kill your Darlings). This reminded me of Sister Wendy talking about Botticelli’s Venus. I just visited the Botticelli exhibition at Gemäldegalerie. I always have a hard time enjoying such biggies. It makes me feel like a tourist in my own town, and looking at those paintings, is like looking at Venice: I can’t help the feeling of seeing a fake coulisse. I know - it's bad. But there might be something else at play too - something more psychological. And it was Sister Wendy who made me realise so. Not only because you can't imagine Venus doing the washing up. But it's the end that Sister Wendy (dressed in her daily attire, not a costume!) comes to the conclusion: “When Venus steps ashore she will be clothed. This is a very sad thing because it suggest we just can’t take the confrontation of that. We have to have beauty partly hidden or the challenge is too great.” 

October 14, 2015

Art Blogger of the Week: Jenny Thingshung in Delhi, India

Jenny Thingshung in front of wood carving art of the Naga tribe in the Northeast India

I was happy when I found out about Jenny Thingshung's blog Potful of Life. It combines art with food and travel - awesomeness! My three favourite things in life! I especially like reading reviews about food - not only because of the food itself, but because of the language that is used to describe it. Even more: since Jenny Thingshung lives in India, her blog focusses especially on Indian food! Ah!!! By the way, you will read below Thingshung's philosophy on art and life, and it's one that I like to share. And as if art, food, and travel aren't enough, Thingshung also writes poetry. You can follow her on Facebook and on Twitter. 

Art Scene
"I am fortunate to live in one of the most art conscious cities in India, Delhi, considered as the country’s diverse cultural centre with hundreds of contemporary art galleries. Modern art is trending majorly in India. What I have seen and observed in the present local art scene is that there is visible awareness to art and more youngsters are investing in it which was unheard of few years ago. Galleries are mushrooming everywhere. In the last few years, international art fairs and exhibitions have made its footfall which attracts global collectors and galleries from all over the world. There’s an obvious increase of global interest in the Indian art market." 

"I wanted to start blogging since a long time ago however it never materializes until 2012 when I began with a personal blog. However, I found my footing with “Potful of Life”. With the simple motto, “Eat Well. Live Full. Think Just.”, I began putting together stuff especially food reviews as I was already a regular food columnist for a travel magazine. Art is something very personal to me and I string it along with travel and personal thoughts to make it whole and more complete in my “Potful of Life”. 
We live in the world surrounded by art. I believed that art goes beyond mere representation in a canvas or a stone or a wood. Art is the way we live, we eat, we dress, the way we plan our day, the way we communicate with people with or without our consciousness. When we travel to new places, there’s a visible change in topography, culture and expression, faces, features and colors, cuisines, attires, ways of speaking and even thinking and beliefs. There’s an art in it all. We just need to recognize the aesthetic sense and revel in its beauty. If we live in cognizance of this beautiful essence of life’s art, we could find a way to enlightenment and freedom. Blogging is a great outlet to share interests and passion and connect with the world. I am connected with food and travel writers as well as a few artists."

"I am a media professional. I have dabbled with writing, reporting and also radio. (Now looking forward to join Reuters (India) very soon.) Blogging does come in handy with my job as I interact with people from different walks of life. Blogging has been a satisfying experience so far. Apart from finding joy at mere sharing, I get noticed among a likeminded circle." 

"Sadly I do not, directly or indirectly, monetize on my blog. I wish I know how do.. :-) But yes it definitely helps in broadening my horizon. It makes me easier to reach out to more people and also help me connect with many likeminded people and that is more than what I can bargain from the lack of making money out of blogging." 

October 13, 2015

The West Curating Africa

Last week the news was released that the Armory Fair is going to have a focus on African art, curated by Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba, editors of Contemporary And, which is a Germany based online platform for "international art from 'an African perspective'". Everybody got excited by the news and even more so because for the very first time apparently two women are appointed to curate an edition of Armory Focus. I don’t know why one always has to point it out: look, these curators are women! Women are always first of all women while men are beyond their gender. I actually found the whole thing quite conventional. “New York Armory Show Announces 2016 Focus on African Art”: so read the title of the feature in Artnet News. What struck me first was that two Europeans are going to curate this African Art Focus. I guess the Armory wanted to be sure, that whatever comes across well at the art market of the West, and as long as it’s the West defining what is contemporary art, will be shown? The title of Artnet News was, however, misleading. Armory's Focus, I read a little further in the article, is not about contemporary art in Africa as such, but the Focus promises an “in-depth look at both African Diasporic art and art from international African perspectives.” Diaspora involves a triangle of Africa, the Americas, and Europe - so I’m just wondering if the continent itself shouldn't be involved. And what is in the end “art from international African perspectives”? What is hidden behind this expression? Does it mean that the Armory doesn’t want the art to be too African? Does the "international" stands for Westernised - fitting for the Western market? That seems quite colonial to me.

It’s interesting to see the strategies the West uses when curating Africa. I’ve talked before about this newly opened show Xenopolis in Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin. Curated by Parisian Simon Njami, it’s about how we’re all strangers in the city, yet the exhibition starts with a photo of somebody in a black hoodie. Some are stranger than others in the city (the ones with the hoodies). Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle explained to us during the guided tour, that everybody could hide behind that hoodie, so you're invited to imagine who for you is the stranger. Right! The exhibition text starts with saying that Simon Njami “fundamentally changed our perception of contemporary African art”. Then it’s funny to see there is no African based artist in the exhibit. Njami apparently intended to show artists based in Berlin. OK, fair enough, I guess, then why make such a big deal in the wall text (first sentence!) about the curator being specialised in African art (is something trending here?). In the website text of the exhibit, artist Theo Eshetu is presented as Ethiopian, although he was born in the UK. The West likes to do that - it brings diversity into the picture. This kind of subtle racism is very present in Germany. Once a curator responsible of many exhibitions on African contemporary art in Berlin complimented my friend, who is Afro-German, that she speaks German so well. Flabbergasted again.

Or take this show opening soon at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Berlin, it’s titled “Die schwarzen Jahre. Geschichten einer Sammlung. 1933 – 1945."” (The Black Years. Histories of a Collection, 1933-1945). I mean, they could have called it "The Brown Years", or also “The White Years” - because wasn’t it all about being as white as possible? But white is purity, it couldn’t be the years 1933-1945, could it?  More politically correct would have been probably the “dark” years, I’m guessing, but even then. I just read this great article in The New Yorker on Virginia Woolf, who said: “The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think.” Rebecca Solnit extends on this thought some more: "Most people are afraid of the dark. Literally when it comes to children, while many adults fear, above all, the darkness that is the unknown, the unseeable, the obscure. And yet the night in which distinctions and definitions cannot be readily made is the same night in which love is made, in which things merge, change, become enchanted, aroused, impregnated, possessed, released, renewed." And talking about writing, Solnit comes to the following conclusion: “"Nonfiction has crept closer to fiction in our time in ways that are not flattering to fiction, in part because too many writers cannot come to terms with the ways in which the past, like the future, is dark. There is so much we don’t know, and to write truthfully about a life, your own or your mother’s or a celebrated figure’s, an event, a crisis, another culture is to engage repeatedly with those patches of darkness, those nights of history, those places of unknowing. They tell us that there are limits to knowledge, that there are essential mysteries, starting with the notion that we know just what someone thought or felt in the absence of exact information."

October 7, 2015

Art Blogger of the Week, Sujin Jung in Seoul, South-Korea

I can't read Korean so that's why I can't tell you too much about Sujin Jung's blog content, but just by its title Cue O Q. A Series of Choices, Life Curating one can sense it has character. I know actually for sure that it has character, because I met Sujin Jung in my online class on creative forms in art writing at Node Center. On her blog you can check her class assignment on fictional non-fiction, written in English with the funky title "Pink is the Most Affordable Color". I would say that Jung has a a sort of plastic art writing going on: it dwells on the surface (pink), it's easy-going and fun, and succeeds in revealing the hidden messages from that surface. Sujin Jung's trade mark is the inclusion of "haha"'s in her reviews. In class we decided to start quoting it in our own reviews too, like: "As the art critic Sujin Jung would say: 'haha!'" Please feel free to start quoting her too! And you can follow her blog on Facebook

Art Scene
"In South Korea, where I am living, most of the interesting events happen in Seoul and sometimes in Daegu, Gwangju. Personally, I think South Korea’s art scene is always one step behind the global scene. For example, nowadays there is a trend of holding exhibitions at the most unusual places with a sense of realness to it, like a former factory, motel, etc. In short, there is a move to leave the white cube, but in the global scene that has already happened, and actually now it’s going back to the white cube to make a contrast. That’s  just my thinking though. Well, moreover, South Korea art scene is too much like politics, and this creates a lot of problems. For instance, the director position of MMCA (the national museum of modern and contempory art) has been vacant for about one year because of political and power issues. What a shame...! And, nepotism is also a big problem. It is possible that when the big system is changed, South Korea art scene could definitely go one step forward." 

"I started my blog since I was reporter writing exhibition reviews. My blog title is 'Cue O Q', and O is Spanish. So, cue or Q, it comes from my confusion and I thought it is an interesting and good way to express my blog's feature. Because, In my blog I would like to curate life - like not only curating art but also other things like food, places, film... (well, nowadays everything is connected haha) but mainly focus on writing reviews of the exhibits. 
And I made some categories, one of those is one year at the art museum. It’s based on Alan de Botton's book about Heathrow airport. Like observing things and people at the art museum, and I wrote about that. Well, for some reasons, I lost my interest in writing (and probably my laziness is one of the reasons), so I didn't post a lot. However, taking Node Center's art criticism and creative writing, I really sincerely found writing interesting and fun again, so I am trying to post some more. 
And actually, I am trying to make a website with my co-workers..."

"I majored art history and philosophy (B.A.) and have gathered related work experiences, because I think being flexible is a really important ability and it’s mostly from first-hand experiences and even not related experiences like travel, hanging out, etc. Currently I’m working as a curatorial intern at Sungkok Art Museum ( currently holding <Garry Winogrand x Vivian Maier>, well, honestly, art museum's feature (sort of BI) is not strong or clear at all. seriously, no kidding. Its chief curator is changed so every person (it shows South Korea art scene is like really political and it is also related to nepotism..) and everything has changed so suddenly and it is just trying to fix everything.) I’m preparing a master's degree as well. I am not sure when I go to study a master's degree exactly though haha. I am especially interested in the  'glocal' issue in the art scene, and I like learning languages, cultures and art so I can travel a lot. I think that through my own study like reading, traveling, or taking online courses, I could learn a lot so I am not sure when to go for a master's degree, but maybe it should be good to go for a master's degree... haha"


"Well, I am not pursuing money, I mean not doing my blog for money, well, but someone wants to invest in my contents then why not? haha"