August 26, 2017

Summer Stories in Cultural History

How can I loose weight? my neighbor asks.
Don’t eat bread, I say. 
Don’t you know some kind of mantra? she replies.

“This” so says her tattoo on her leg.
This what? I ask. 
This body, this moment, this... she says.

Do you also want a Kaffee crema? 
No, I want it black. 
It’s black! 
Confused look in the eyes.    

Bakery German
Most art is advertisement, the artist Wolfgang Müller tells me. 
Andy Warhol knew. So he took advertisement and made it into art.

In Japanese tradition, the artist Akane Kimbara tells me, they believe there is a God in everything. She herself talks to everything, also inanimate objects like chairs and pillows and asks them how they’re doing. Even the Japanese advertisement on her internet does this: a water drop is immediately turned into a character. 

It’s a summery evening and I’m sitting on a bench in the park by myself drinking a beer. A woman of my age passes by, also with a bottle of beer. We look at each other and wink. 

Bench talk

I’m taking care of the dachshund Otto for a few days. Write a poem for him, his owner texts me while I’m dog walking. Otto likes poetry. While Otto is pulling at his line, I manage to get my notebook out and jot down: “Dog hunts birds and takes the poet in tow.”

How is life with a Dackel? so the owner checks up with me a day later. Otto is so excited about being outside, I say, that I’m starting to think the same. Outside is much more exciting than inside. Yes, the owner says, I feel weird when I’m outside without him.

August 5, 2017

UdK Rundgang or How To Take Fun Back Into Art

Vince Tillotson

I hang out for hours at the UdK Rundgang on a Sunday - was it two weeks ago? It was a surprise when the afternoon faded into the evening and I was still there. I didn’t even manage to see everything. I ran through the spaces trusting that my gut feeling would stop me if necessary. I also didn’t meet a lot of people. I chatted a bit with artist and curator Aykan Safoglu about the splendid fellowship that was awarded to him, a fellowship only given to persons under 35 (ugh). I’ve known Aykan for ages so I looked at him suspiciously, wondering: how is it possible for him to be that young?

So what did I do at UdK? I remember feeling quite happy and everybody else seemed to be quite happy too. There were bars here and there, spread throughout the school. Hito Steyerl’s class did karaoke instead of showing art works. There were collaborative pieces and if they weren’t collaborative they were put together in a collaborative mood. I was enjoying myself, seeing overall quality and if it wasn’t quality, the students were clearly having fun and it showed. It reminded me of Peter Schjedahl’s advice: “You move to a city. You hang out in bars. You form a gang. Turn it into a scene & turn that into a movement.” 

Karin Salathé's soap sculptures

I especially went to the UdK to see the class of Professor Wong, aka Ming Wong. My favourite room was the one with beautiful soap sculptures by Karin Salathé, poetic drawings by Vera Seng and a good video piece by Anna Lauenstein (Finally a work on the topic of refugees that is good! Yey! Political art is possible!). “But where are the performances?” I asked. “It’s about the performativity of working with the space and the art objects,” Salathé explained to me. Same happened in the next performance room: everything but performance. I asked again and this time performance student Lou Mou explained to me: “Did you see any photography in Beat Streuli’s Contemporary Photography class? No, the emphasis there is on the ‘contemporary’ of Contemporary Photography.” I was confused but I was liking it. 

Anna Lauenstein

The screening room of Ming Wong's class. Beautifully installed
Lou Mou explaining about performance art
in front of his work A la Recherche du Sable Perdu.

My favorite artist of the whole art route was Vince Tillotson. I’ve been following Vince for the past years and I was excited to see his last year art work. He’s been working with trashy materials before but now it has taken on a form.  I loved his foamy columns, silly sculptures I’d like to call them, standing next to the serious, real once at the entrance of UdK. Later Vince told me that things had been stolen from the sculptures but that didn’t matter. In a video Where The Whale Bones Aren't that Vince did in collaboration with Casey Detrow, the writings were inspired by Eileen Myles, Susan Sontag, Durga Chew-Bose. Awesomeness: finally students are no longer quoting Foucault and Baudrillard! I can’t say what the video was exactly about: it was about women and being sick. There was no message (oh thank god!), no statement (again, thanks!), but there was something - the little extra we call poetry.

Fun and poetry. Doesn’t this sound promising? Hell yeah. 

Vince Tillotson and Casey Detrow, Where the Whale Bones Aren't