Saturday, January 10, 2009

Berlin: Fake or Feint + Transgression

Promotional literature for Transgression exhibit at Neurotitan Gallery in Berlin; photo by Val PhoenixNew year, new country. Yes, it's all about change here at Kunstblog HQ, which is for the next month or so, snowy, icy, frosty Berlin. No need to explain why one would decamp to the capital of cool, except to say things were a bit glum in Blighty and one needs a change sometimes, even if it does mean arriving in -17 temperatures.

So, it was I found myself tonight at the opening of Fake or Feint, the first in a series of scenarios on the subject of deceptive appearances. Well, here's a topic ripe for exploration and thoroughly modern and all that. But, what is one's response when faced with a brown scrim in a glass-fronted room in the middle of the Berlin Carre shopping centre? The great and good were out in force, sipping from their drinks and making animated conversation, enclosed by the scrim, while another group dotted the edges, where hung three photos by Claude Cahun.

Quite the interesting character, Cahun, who only came to my attention recently but led an eventful life in the Channel Islands and continually photographed herself in various guises, pre-dating Cindy Sherman by decades. The relation of Cahun to the brown scrim (the work of Eran Schaerf)? Both are examples of the tactics of marking, with Schaerf's diaphanous curtain marking a space between public and private.

And speaking of crossing boundaries, I just about caught the closing of Transgression at Neurotitan. A collection of work by seven women working in multi-disciplinary fields, this exhibit included strange knitted portraits by Francoise Cactus, other-worldly drawings by Danielle de Picciotto and distorted photos by Lydia Lunch, all better known from the world of music than from visual art.

It also included work by Gudrun Gut and Myra Davies, who have been collaborating for almost 20 years in music and spoken word, and whom I spoke to just before Davies returned to her homeland of Canada. More on this conversation another time, but it sounds like the opening of the exhbit was the place to be, with a girl group backing of Gut, Beate Bartel, and de Picciotto for Davies' performance of tracks from Cities and Girls. Now there's a band in the making.

The two also shared some amusing anecdotes about living in freezing conditions in the Berlin of the past, making me very glad I invested in a hat with Elmer Fudd flaps. Not at all cool, but very, very warm.

Fake or Feint is at Berlin Carre through 7 February.

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