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The exhibition Kendell Geers 1988 – 2012 can be seen in Haus der Kunst in Munich until 12.05.2013

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February 16, 2013 · 9:13 pm

Naked

Naked before the Camera is a small temporary exhibition given in Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It evolves around the topic of naked human body in photography, bringing the light to this highly disputed motive in art and depicting it from various angles. Therefore, we see the first female naked bodies and acts, done by French impressionist for the purpose of painting them later on, we see the photographs of dead bodies or bodies in motion, used for medicine and scientific scrutiny, as well photographs of rare skin illnesses or muscular build of athletes, again finding its use in medicine and analyzing human anatomy. One may see also varieties in the technique and media how human body is being portrayed; the proximity of camera, the angle, play of light and shadow, so that the body often has an abstract organic form. It becomes apparent that the photographer wants to tell us something with it. The motives are sometimes banal and show the everyday life, but soon they become more personalized. There we see first attempts in feminist photography as well as gay population. It is interesting – just to see this rather obvious image having its evolution in art in so many unexpected directions and applications and being subject here to artistic investigation.

Eadweard Muybridge, “Boys Playing Leap Frog”, 1883-1886

Brassai, “Nude”, 1931-1934

Man Ray, “Arm”, 1935

Franz Roh, “Nude in Tub”, 1922-1925

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S*** on Your Hat

Few months ago I have visited Barcelona. It was a perfectly chaotic weekend with both good and not-so-good experiences, but with some great people (and that is what counts).

On a hot touristy Saturday I had no choice but to hit MACBA and I can’t say I regretted it. The building itself has been designed by Richard Meier and its design is an antidote to the city’s Gaudi/gothic architecture. It is very bright, open, minimalistic and urban and its huge triple-floor ramp-hall reminds me a bit of Centre Pompidue’s.

MACBA, inside out view

At that time, temporary exhibitions involved spanish photographs and contemporary art works, which I did not have much background about I must admit, aside from Antoni Tapies’ works. What I liked a lot were films from Aleksandr Sokurov, a Russian director, who has been awarded with several awards, one of them being Golden Lion in Venice International Film Festival in 2011. I found the monotony in life or Russian solders in “Confession: From the Commander’s Diary” and their confinement and limitness in their activities but also space very strong and thoughts-provoking. However, “Elegy of a Voyage” from 2001 is what really kept me siting there for long time. (Both may be found in e.g. YouTube.) This seems to be an infinite voyage, ‘told’ to us by a nameless narrator, which we can easily identify with and see it from his own eyes: no matter how much dreamlike it may seem and not related to reality, it ends with narrator finding its identity.

Other work, also as video art shown, was Samuel Beckett’s “Not I” from 1972, showing disembodied lips of a woman telling us about dramatic incidents in her life in high-pitched voice. It is very intense for audience, hinting a big trauma and detesting for self – which one does not feel comfortable listening to and seeing.

 

There was another interesting Bruce Naumann there, combining both video and installation, “Shit on Your Hat – Head on a Chair”, from 1990,

Bruce Nauman, “Shit on Your Hat – Head on a Chair”, 1990

as well as Pierre Bismuth’s “Postscript – The Passenger”, from 1996-2010.

Pierre Bismuth, “Postscript – The Passenger”, 1996-2010

Both are being somewhat humorous, tricky and also experimental in interpreting reality and suggesting (and controlling?) the course of events and our perception.

What is left for me to do next time when I am there would be Fundacio Antoni Tapies. This time I can also admire its outer look, work of  Lluís Domènech i Montaner.

Fundacio Antoni Tapies

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Bild gegen Bild

In my last post, I have touched upon this exhibition. Yes, I think that curators of the exhibition did a fantastic job by showing how media coverage of conflicts around the world forms our awareness and opinion, how different channels reflect those conflict events but also how we (or artists in the exhibition) react on media images and combine them with our encounters.

Radenko Milak, “What Else Did You See? I Couldn’t See Everything”, 2010-2012; Source: milak.net

 

I will be biased here and spend more space for three Bosnian artists. Not only that they fascinated me with their way of showing events that we all in Bosnia went through (and is painful to remember them, no matter which time distance is there in the meantime), but these artists instantly raised interests of various art collectors and media in Germany and world. Cover page of tomorrow’s Süddeutsche Zeitung‘s ‘Feuilleton’ was devoted to a largest deal to them. And who are they? They are: Radenko Milek, young painter from Banja Luka, who amplifies the Ron Haviv‘s war photography that maybe in a most correct way describes what really happened in aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina through series of black&white paintings. (Arkan’s soldier with cigarette in his hand and sunglasses hitting dead female bodies on the pavements: how would you feel painting this image over and over again?).

Radenko Milak, “What Else did you See? I couldn’t See Everything”, 2010 – 2012; Source: nytimes.com

 

Another one is Adela Jusic, video and performance artist, who is showing a hand drawing a red circle on a white surface while listening her reading the diary entries. In the end, with ‘December 3, 1992’, it is clear: we see the photo of her father, a sniper, who has been killed by a sniper. Her demystified and unbiased approach to the conflict, trying to show no sentiments and heroic images to this personal story, is what artistically augments this complex situation.

Adela Jusic, “The Sniper”, 2007; Source: hausderkunst.de

 

Third one is Jasmila Zbanic, already established name in cinematography. In the film, “Was uns bleibt sind unsure Bilder (Images from the Corner)” from 2003, she is searching from her long lost friend and also discovers, through this visual and verbal journey, that image is never what it really happened but what a photographer chose to frame.

Other artists that bought my attention were Lebanese artist Roy Samaha with his depiction of Arab Spring, Alfredo Jaar with his raw and honest cry, Thomas Ruff, Trevor Paglen and scientific search for what is unknown, secret and hidden, just to name few. Two-day symposium has been organized to follow the exhibition and many of the artists and most prominent names and researchers in the field participated in the discussions. Haus der Kunst curators and Okwui Enwezor did fantastic job again.

The exhibition can be seen in Haus der Kunst until September 16.

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John Smith

The other day I was in dilemma where to go – I made a choice and it was definitely the right one. I’ve been in a lecture / film screening of John Smith organized by Academy for Fine Arts (Akademie der bildenden Künste) in Munich. The john-smith-name may sound as common as possible, but this evening was it not. Not only that I had chance to see several of highly intriguing, intelligently made  stimulating films, with a slight dose of British humor, it was also  a very *friendly* talk, as with a good friend. You know those people who are always smiling when they are talking? (I am definitely not one of those and, I am afraid, artists are not famous for it either.) John Smith was one of those best persons and, as much as he can enrich you with his artistic expression, he can also inspire you with his personality.

Now about films: we’ve seen “The Girl Chewing Gum”, “The Black Tower”, “Worst Case Scenario”, “unusual Red cardigan”, just to name few. All of them fascinated me through its commonness and portrayals of every day life, but still surprising with unexpected constellations. Whether it is looking at an object from a different angle and seeing a completely different story or superimposing people to happen to be ‘at the same time at the same place’ and creating a ‘catastrophe’ through it, or even reducing the events only to sound and creating a completely different (dramatic?) inner encounter – John Smith is make you think about those banalities and question yourself how banal (or not?) those are in the end. Like with the black tower: where is this mystery tower and how come no one notices it? Moreover, many events and aspects might confuse you and make an impression of being ‘too much’ – but they are nothing but what is really out there, what we really do go through (consciously or not)  and what does remain, in one way or another, in our psyche.

Feel free to discover the rest on your own. For a little preview, just for you, I am appending “The Black Tower” here:

This one of the artists that are part of the exhibition “Image Counter Image” (“Bild gegen Bild”) that has been opened tonight in Haus der Kunst in Munich. The exhibition will be opened until September 16.

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Current exhibitions in Munich

These ones I loved:

1. Mondrian und De Stijl in Kunstbau

You get acquainted with the movement and see some of the best examples, not only paintings but also films, furniture, product design, posters as well as photographs. Here is a classic:

 

2. Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion in Haus der Kunst

Weather we talk about shades and black-and-white, origami influence, emancipation of woman in post-modern Japan or experimenting with material, the exhibition is a true eye opener and the trigger that would inspire you to own and copy some of it. A preview (Yohji Yamamoto):

3. Aschemünder, Goetz Collection, in Haus der Kunst

I cannot decide what is more special about this exhibition. Is it the place for the exhibition: small underground chamber-like rooms of a former air-raid shelter, where the films are being shown, or the exhibition itself? The main topic is war and it shows its manifestations through dictatorships, genocides, drug crimes etc from Latin America to Africa, South-East Asia to Europe. Needless to say, it got me thinking about my memories 1992-1995.

These ones I found ‘ok’:

1. Cy Twombly Photographs 1951 – 2010 in Museum Brandhorst

… or even less then ‘ok’. I love Cy Twomby, but in this collection I do not see any extraordinary works. First I thought, ‘cool! these blurry photos, which nowadays everyone is doing, have been done in 50’s!’ but then I would see 2009 in the corner. Or I am just being too much amateur.  

Therefore, I would rather point to his (in my opinion) masterpiece works:

… or to be a bit subjective and local patriot (this piece cannot be seen at Brandhorst Museum in Munich though):

2. Isaac Julien “Ten Thousand Waves” in Museum Brandhorst

In this video I liked the spacial composition of 9 different projections as well as their temporal composition. This timing is very interesting and it got me thinking how all these different perspectives bring you back to the Asian topic of the film. (and here I am ‘patriotic’ as well since I am not always objective when it comes to Asia)

The one I want to see:

1. Vermeer in Munich. King Max I Joseph of Bavaria as a Collector of Old Masters, in Alte Pinakotheke

This is a classic and I am being here mainstream, as Vermeer is known nowadays anyone who is following Hollywood productions. I am just curious to see if the exhibitions shows this one painting and all about it (as once I have visited and seen in Albertina in Wien) or we can see more of Vermeer.

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