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Thomas Demand, Abgang (detail), 2000

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Art in Berlin
April 18-May 1, 2007

With artists flocking to Berlin for the cheap rent and experimental ambience, we check out the people and places energizing the scene. In our rundown of Berlin's alternative art spaces, we explore butcher shops, greenhouses, and bedrooms filled with art, and we interview Javier Peres, director of the edgy Peres Projects. Within Berlin's eclectic art community, German sculptor Isa Genzken stands out with her chaotic assemblages, and Canadian video artist Althea Thauberger documents the latest generation of German youth. Traveling on, we review the latest show at Brooklyn-based Pierogi's space in Leipzig, eastern Germany's emerging art capital.

  Get ready to do some serious shopping: H&M; has hit Orange County with three brand new locations — two in South Coast Plaza and one at Irvine Spectrum. With fantastic dresses starting from $14.90, the H&M; spring collection is sure to make an impression on you. Stop by and see what you've been missing!

Rogers Nabs Pritzker Prize
(Washington Post, March 29)
Richard Rogers, the British architect responsible for Paris' Centre Georges Pomipdou and the Lloyd's of London tower, has won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, his field's highest honor. Known both for exposing building materials typically concealed by construction — pipes, ducts, girders, etc. — as well as his long-standing commitment to eco-conscious urban planning ideas and building techniques, Rogers said he would turn the $100,000 award over to his firm and that it would most likely go to charity. Having made a profound mark on the architecture world, Rogers' win at age 73 is perhaps overdue. Nevertheless, Rogers — whose design for an office building is under construction in Washington, DC — was gracious in his victory, saying, "When you win an honor, it makes you happy, and you don't worry too much about when you won."

Salcedo to Fill Tate's Turbine
(Independent, April 6)
Colombian artist Doris Salcedo has been the eighth artist selected to produce a work for the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall, joining the distinguished ranks of Carsten Höller, Anish Kapoor, and Olafur Eliasson, among others, in receiving the museum's honor and challenge. Trained as a painter, Salcedo later made sculptures comprised of furniture mixed with unorthodox elements, such as human hair and concrete. Exploring themes of violence and social injustice, she has increasingly created large-scale work, as in her 2003 piece for the Istanbul Biennial, for which she piled 1,550 chairs into an abandoned building plot as a striking spatial metaphor for migrant workers and their foundational place in the global economy. Neither the Tate, which currently owns three of the artist's works, nor Salcedo has said what her Turbine project will consist of, although every indication points to it being political in nature and monumental in scale.

Pinault Trumps Guggenheim in Venice
(Bloomberg, April 5)
When a bid by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to transform a Venice customs building into a new contemporary art museum was deemed incomplete, French billionaire François Pinault was chosen to complete the task. Because the Guggenheim proposal did not contain a list of works intended for the proposed Punta della Dogana's permanent collection, it was removed from consideration. Pinault — who owns Christie's, is France's wealthiest art collector, and already helms the Palazzo Grassi on Venice's Grand Canal — provided Venice City Hall with a list of 141 works that would be in the new center's collection over a 30-year period. Located in the heart of the city, the future museum site is a 17th-century building that appears in paintings by Canaletto, Guardi, and Turner. Japanese architect Tadao Ando is set to design the new museum, and Pinault has pledged $27-40 million to the new project, slated to open in June 2009.

Neighbors Try to Halt Hirst's Plans
(, April 10)
He's made celebrated art out of pickled sharks and eternally sleeping sheep, but Damien Hirst's plan to construct an "abattoir rail" and "fish preparation area" as a part of his new gallery space and studio in Stroud, Gloucestershire has drawn the ire of his neighbors, some of whom have drawn up a petition to keep the dead animals from their doorsteps. A head of planning for the Stroud District Council tried to alleviate locals' fears, saying, "There will be ex-animals on the site. He uses them as part of his process but it will not be an abattoir. You will not be getting 50 sheep arriving every day to be slaughtered." He added, "It might be the odd frozen shark, which will then be prepared for exhibition in formaldehyde."

Real or not, disputed Jackson Pollock pieces are allegedly sold more »

Jean Nouvel designs beautiful buildings for New York's ultra-rich more »

Trinidadian art blooms more »

Village Voice's Jerry Saltz jumps ship for New York more »

MFA Boston scores $2.5 million and nearly 200 Herb Ritts works more »

Amsterdam offers a chance to live in a present-day pyramid more »

Auction houses expecting huge sums for Rothko, Bacon, and Warhol in May sales more »

Art deco trumps modernism in survey of American buildings more »

REDCAT's Joo resigns, headed to New York's New Museum more »

Christie's forced to remove forged Grayson Perry work more »

The Boston ICA's Louise Bourgeois show is stale, geared towards potential donors more »

Islamic graffiti mural put on hold in Chicago more »

Texan favorite Renzo Piano will handle the Kimbell Art Museum's new addition more »

As Chelsea fills up, NYC gallerists go uptown more »

Rirkrit Tiravanija comes home to Ontario more »

CIRCA Puerto Rico art fair continues to grow more »

Berkeley Art Museum highlights Bruce Nauman's early work more »

Will Alsop may not dress like an architect, but he's one of Britain's best more »

Must all artists be intellectuals, too? more »

Conceptual-art giant Sol LeWitt dies at 78 more »

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[ Artist-Run Spaces in Berlin ]


Gustavo Ramirez / Discoteca Flaming Star / Klaus Weber / Mladen Bizumic

Eighteen years after reunification, Berlin is still struggling economically, but its empty storefronts and deserted factories attract artists from all over the world. The affordable space also generates a rare phenomenon: artist-run galleries and project spaces that host exhibitions and collaborations outside of the commercial art market. These projects range from the cleanly professional to the exuberantly grungy, but each venue exhilarates in its own quirky way, presenting underrepresented art and unusual curatorial approaches.

As alternatives to the white cube, artists reconfigure buildings such as abandoned butcher shops and bombed-out department stores. The new After the Butcher project turns a former meat-processing plant into a space for site-specific installations, while the artists of super bien! host exhibitions in a glass greenhouse. General Public animates a derelict building with shows, film screenings, and performances, and the collective Chaos Computer Club set up an interactive LED display in the windows of an empty office building, enabling passersby to generate light shows with their cell phones. Far more common, however, is for artists to open project spaces in their spare bedrooms; Croy Nielsen, for example, is an exhibition venue in an expansive apartment in Prenzlauer Berg.

Other artists occupy conventional gallery spaces, but fill them with esoteric exhibitions. Sparwasser HQ, which is run collaboratively by artists and theorists, lights up a storefront in Mitte with conceptual and political projects. A few blocks away is PROGRAM, a nonprofit space melding art and architecture with exhibitions of wall paintings, labyrinthine installations, and video projections. In the shadow of the Alexanderplatz TV tower, the artist Lena Ziese founded Jet, which currently hosts thematic exhibitions on the subject of failure.

Currently, the Brunnenstrasse galleries — many of which were originally founded by artists — are drawing the largest crowds. For these producer-galleries, artists band together, hire a director, and each hold solo shows during the year. Diskus, founded by nine young sculptors from the Dresden Art Academy, is one such gallery, as is Amerika, which primarily represents artists from the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig. A collaboration between curators, Curators Without Borders is an experimental, international space, while Artnews Projects, an extension of, hosts traveling, concept-based exhibitions.

Besides the vast range of exhibitions, a plethora of alternative symposia, lectures, and publications expand the art scene. The most prominent discussion forum is the United Nations Plaza — organized by ten artists including Martha Rosler, Liam Gillick, and Walid Raad — which hosts free seminars probing contemporary art production, but many exhibition spaces hold additional lectures and screenings. Alternative publications that add to the dialogue include Mono.Kultur, Texte Zur Kunst, and 032c. Although many Berliners bemoan the increasing commercialization of the art scene, the reality for now is that in a city of few buyers, the commercial galleries remain observers, rather than rulers of this experimental playground — one of the few that is still generated by artists, for artists. (BR)

For more information on the Berlin scene, check out the book Berlin Art Now, and Sparwasser HQ's survey of artist-run spaces in Berlin.

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Yang Fudong: No Snow on the Broken Bridge

ShanghART Gallery
Now through April 30

  Yang Fudong's recent film installation No Snow on the Broken Bridge was exhibited in London and New York before returning to the artist's native Shanghai. That whirlwind itinerary suitably reflects No Snow's dizzying combination of narrative fragments, surrealist stunts, and lyric interludes, which viewers take in simultaneously on eight screens arranged in an encompassing semicircle. Set to a heavy tonal score, this black-and-white film evokes tense fin-de-siècle decadence in scenes of flapper girls in qipao dresses cavorting with dandies through a Chinese garden. At other times, the camera focuses on weeping willows or rain coming across a lake. Offering no resolution, Yang loops noir apprehension into an interminable suspension of disbelief. (AM)

Some Assembly Required: Contemporary Prefabricated Houses
Los Angeles

Museum of Contemporary Art
Now through May 20

  Organized by Minneapolis' Walker Art Center and now on view at the MOCA Pacific Design Center, Some Assembly Required: Contemporary Prefabricated Houses is an ideal traveling exhibition; the houses represented are all intended to fit on the back of a truck. A tantalizing array of material samples, scale models, and site photographs illustrate prefab houses designed over the past five years by eight international firms. An elegant, light-filled room from Lazor Office's FlatPak House is even fully assembled in the PDC lobby. Charlie Lazor's description of his design perfectly inverts the former stigma attached to the prefab or manufactured home: Lazor calls his work "manufactured architecture." (KB)

Yasue Maetake: To See the Moon in Exile
New York

Harris Lieberman
Now through April 28

  To See the Moon in Exile, Yasue Maetake's New York solo debut, explores productive and entropic tensions between nature and science through four mixed-media sculptures and one video. Warrior, a tree-like assemblage of steel, copper, resin, and silk, uses inventive material juxtapositions to underscore humankind's attempted mastery of nature. Referencing Buddhist and Shinto texts, the three-channel video Haisho No Tsuki shows the artist engaged in improbable, ritualistic activities in natural settings. In one scene, Maetake is roped to a tree high in the forest canopy. Impassively viewing her surroundings through a gigantic, lollipop-shaped lens, Maetake lyrically evokes the wonderment and futility at the heart of human curiosity. (TC)

Subodh Gupta: Silk Route

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Now through April 29

  Best known for deadpan sculptural installations such as Curry and Very Hungry God, Subodh Gupta continues his witty examination of globalization's effect on contemporary Indian society with his new installation at BALTIC. The title piece, The Silk Route, an impressive display of stacked stainless-steel cooking vessels and tiffin-boxes circulating continuously on an industrial-size sushi belt, evokes both the daily routine of metropolitan life and pop-culture imperialism. A humble pile of burlap bags, Sacks recalls Italian arte povera. Placed alongside the dazzling The Silk Route, it suggests that as India's growth accelerates, material abundance and technological advancements have displaced a simpler way of life. (LV)


Now through April 21

  Euphorion surveys the Bay Area art scene through painting, drawing, and multimedia works. Yoon Lee's dense, crisply architectural, abstract paintings employ a hybrid approach to organic, urban spatial articulations. Well-known denizens Chris Johanson, Jo Jackson, and Clare Rojas are among the artists who share a retro, graffiti, and illustration-based folk style. Of course, any Bay Area exhibition would be incomplete without figurehead artist Barry McGee, whose Untitled assembles dozens of diminutive abstractions into a metonymy of the entire group's sensibility. All included embrace jubilant color and witty draftsmanship; their works reflect a layered assortment of influences and visual idioms forced into coexistence — not unlike the city from which they hail. (SND)

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[ Althea Thauberger ]

Althea Thauberger

Dividing her time between Vancouver and Berlin, Canadian photographer and filmmaker Althea Thauberger documents the sometimes excruciating intersection of self and community. Thauberger's art functions as a theatrical platform for what Diane Arbus described as "the gap between intention and effect" — the friction between the self-constructed personality and its social reception. Her videos record highly specific scenarios with sincere but often awkward performances, similar to Phil Collins' karaoke-based dünya dinlemiyor and Johanna Billing's youthful Magical World.

In two of the artist's works, Songstress from 2002 and A Memory Lasts Forever from 2004, young female performers sing their own songs so wholeheartedly that they induce the viewer's discomfort. Thauberger also solicits collaborators from various communities, further probing the schism between the individual and the whole. In 2005's Northern, the artist worked with Canadian tree-planters to stage a tableau vivant of Théodore Géricault's The Raft of the Medusa; that same year, Murphy Canyon Choir captured military wives who lived on a base performing their own compositions.

At New York's John Connelly Presents, Thauberger's current solo exhibition, Zivildienst ≠ Kunstprojekt / Social Service ≠ Art Project, shows work she made while an artist-in-residence at Berlin's Künstlerhaus Bethanien, an international studio center. Through an arrangement with the government, Thauberger worked for several months with a group of young German men performing community service as a substitute for military duty. The resulting video offers an austere performance of wordless gestures by the "protagonists" in an upbeat version of the Lord of the Flies dynamic, where games give way to factions before a reunification. Photographic portraits and self-authored fictional biographies complete the presentation of human complexity as observed through specific case studies. (CK)

Zivildienst ≠ Kunstprojekt / Social Service ≠ Art Project is on view at John Connelly Presents in New York through April 21.

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[ Javier Peres ]


John Kleckner / assume vivid astro focus / Terence Koh / Amie Dicke

Five years after opening his first exhibition space in San Francisco, upstart art dealer Javier Peres runs galleries in Los Angeles and Berlin and has more branches on the way. His savoir faire secured both assume vivid astro focus and Terence Koh spots in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. Peres talks with Artkrush contributing editor H.G. Masters about the good life in Berlin and what it takes to be in his stable of artists.
AK: After launching Peres Projects in San Francisco with shows of Bruce LaBruce and assume vivid astro focus in 2002, you relocated the gallery to LA's Chinatown, opening with Terence Koh's first solo show in March 2003. Under your aegis, those artists have flourished. What do you look for in artists?

JP: I am interested in many different things in the world, and artists who share those interests and address them in their work in original and thought-provoking ways intrigue me. If they're hot — or simply sluts — then that's even better.

AK: As a gallerist, you're known for a hands-off, even indulgent approach. What gives you the confidence to let your artists run loose?

JP: It's all about trust — very much like a master-servant relationship; except in our case, we never make clear who is who.

AK: You have a second space in Berlin. What attracted you to the city?

JP: I came to Berlin because I've loved the city since my first visit here — I was five years old, competing in gymnastics. Also, Germans are über-hot, which never hurts. Before I opened my gallery, I had lived in Berlin for a year because Kirstine Roepstorff, the Danish artist-goddess whom I represent and who is also one of my dearest BFFs, was already here full-time, and we were joined at the hip. I was like, "Fuck, I need to keep myself a bit more busy when I'm here." Ta-da! The gallery was born.

AK: Why did you choose to locate your gallery in the traditionally Turkish neighborhood of Kreuzberg over the more established gallery areas in Mitte?

keep reading the interview »

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  Isa Genzken
Alex Farquharson, Diedrich Diedrichsen, and Sabrina Breitweiser
Phaidon Press

Primarily known as a sculptor, Berlin-based Isa Genzken has explored collage, painting, photography, and other media over her 30-year career to express ideas that reference architecture, modernism, and art history. Genzken hit the ground running with her first solo show of minimal floor sculptures at the prestigious Konrad Fischer Galerie in 1976, while still studying at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, and has remained at the forefront of the avant-garde ever since. Phaidon's superbly illustrated monograph presents the evolution of Genzken's work, from its minimalist origins to its current Baroque exuberance, with essays and interviews from scholars and friends, including critic Diedrich Diedrichsen and photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. Noted curator Alex Farquharson charts the development of Genzken's oeuvre through a discussion of materials, process, and context, citing the influence of New York's architecture and colorful street style on her recent mixed-media columns and assemblages. (PL)

Isa Genzken represents Germany at the 52nd Venice Biennale from June 10 to November 21 and participates in Skulptur Projekte Münster 07 from June 16 through September 30.

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Cover Art
Thomas Demand
Abgang, 2000
C-print on Diasec
61 1/2 x 98 1/2 in./ 156 x 250 cm
© Thomas Demand; VG Bild Kunst, Bonn; and DACS, London
Courtesy Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster

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