My friend Adele Schwab has organized a photo exhibit in Berlin on two dates:
19 November 2021 (Friday) from 21.00pm-22:30.
20 November 20 (Saturday) from 17.00-18.30.
Adele Schwab. Photograph from the artist’s website.
Her exhibit is titled, “Seeing the Unseen” an audio visual project that attempts to make air “visible” and investigates the issue of how to capture the unseen. The exhibit explores methods to capture an important yet unseen element, air.
Her work is part of a series on the environment, and was part of the “48 Stunden Neukölln Arts Festival,” which took place this last summer. This is the first time it is shown in a public exhibit.
The interior of the space will be darkened at first, then alit by photos of trees as they turn during the year, sometimes in rain, other times in glaring sunlight. The concept is for the viewer to be immersed in it.
The exhibit takes place at St. Clara Church, which is on Briesestrasse 13, in Berlin, Germany
Much of Schwab’s images show everyday life in a manner that is ultra real. She is captivated by the relationship between nature and people, and by how the environment shapes culture.
Adele Schwab has a BS in Physics from MIT and studied photography at the Ostkreuz School of Photography in Berlin. She currently lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland.
The Carl Kruse Arts Blog invites all of its followers to what should be a special and unique exhibit.
Our artist friend Yury Kharchenko joins a debate titled “Art, Culture and Memory” at the Wallraf Museum in Cologne, Germany, on 5 October 2021 from 19.00-21.00.
The chat will deal with issues surrounding Holocaust remembrance, the culture of remembrance and the cult of guilt.
Yury Kharchenko. Photo: New York Times.
In his more recent art works, Yury has dealt with the Holocaust in a seemingly offensive way, using iconography that takes up well-known figures and ideas from pop culture and mixes them with references to the Holocaust. He confronts viewers with violent fantasies, breaks taboos, shocks sensibilities. We see Scrooge McDuck guarding his money at the gates of Auschwitz. Bugs Bunny has sex in front of a concentration camp. Goofy trots along happily in front of Buchenwald. Batman stares at us as in front of Auschwitz. These and other works are part of Yury’s series “Waiting for a Superhero,” where he seems to ask, among other things, why didn’t any of the superheros or pop greats save the jews from genocide? The discussion at the Wallraf Museum will take up the role of Yury’s art in the context of Holocaust remembrance and the extent it can (or cannot) contribute to the discourse surrounding the holocaust.
The event will feature Yury, Rita Kersting (Deputy Director Museum Ludwig), Prof. Dr. Micha Brumlik (Publicist, emeritus professor of Educational Sciences University, Frankfurt), Kay Heymer (Head of Modern Art, Museum Kunstpalast Foundation) and will be moderated by Dr. Michael Köhler (freelance author, moderator, editor).
About Yury Kharchenko: Yury was born in Moscow in 1986 and studied from 2004 to 2008 at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. Between 2010 and 2012 he devoted himself to the study of the Torah, Talmud, Jewish ethics and philosophy as well as the topic of Jewish thought influences in postmodernism with a focus on Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas. He lives and works in Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
Registration with address and telephone number (for contact tracking) is required at email@example.com Registration closes on September 29, 2021
Corona information: Due to restrictions related to the corona pandemic only a limited number of spots are available. If you plan to attend, please review the corona virus precautions for the event at: www.miqua.blog
There is often a perceived disparity between the words “fashion” and “art.” Many people fall at the feet of, say, a Gauguin, a Turner, or a Matisse, but upon hearing the word “fashion” quickly recede into their boots, or worse, scorn and sneer its name. I understand (I think) where they are coming from, though I certainly disagree with such a reaction. Fashion has been given the name of Primark, Topshop, New Look, and other such enterprises. It has been awarded characteristics of triviality, frivolity, and superficiality as a result of its mainstream-media nature. But, while we don’t all paint or create art, we all wear clothes, and this is at least part of the reason for the popularity of pursuing fashion trends and observing the landscape of designers and seamsters. We are all at least somewhat picky about what we choose to wear every day, even if only for how comfortable and hard-wearing our clothing is. Fashion affects all of us. It can mean the difference between feeling good or feeling down when one leaves the house, or between being successful or not at a job interview. We can make statements about ourselves with our clothes, bring our internal sentiments to the fore with our exterior appearance. We can create art with our clothes, art just as valid as that on the walls of galleries. And that is what the renowned design competition the World of WearableArt (WOW) attempts to do.
In 1987, the little city of Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand hosted the first awards show in what would become one of the most innovative and flamboyant competitions in the world. The event was held outside a small restored cottage under a marquee dripping with rain. The mastermind behind this competition is Susie Moncrieff, inspired by a similar concept she had seen in Auckland years prior. Her idea has bloomed exponentially since that first show, where around 200 visitors came to watch, to over 60,000 every year at the event in the New Zealand capital of Wellington, as well as a permanent WOW Museum in Nelson where WOW found its humble beginnings.
WOW is not just a fashion show. It is theater, with all its excesses and vices, a show encompassing design with ecstatic movement and vibrant imagery. But what of the art? I must say it is most difficult to describe the pieces themselves, which are crafted by designers from over 40 countries and encompass the most exquisitely romantic of wearable designs to the most outlandish one can imagine. And often, the most impressive of the designs come from the least thinkable of places; in 2019, the winner of the Supreme WOW Award was Rinaldy Yunardi of Jakarta, whose design, “The Lady Warrior,” was constructed from recycled paper made into rope which he wove tightly together to form a gloriously regal outfit in cool golden and beige shades. The dress is brilliantly balanced in its symmetry and grace and is equally resonant with classical Indonesian influences as modernist structural brutalism. It’s beautiful, strong, yet fragile.
The Lady Warrior by Rinaldy Yunardi. Photo: The Last Fashion Bible
Many of the pieces that emerge from the WOW show are far more sombre than this example of Rinaldy’s work. Some are so very nightmarish that they could only have come from the deep, dark depths of one’s imagination. Take ‘NightWraith’, the 2019 piece by Australian artist Ildy Izso, aptly modelled in the ‘mythology section’ of the competition. It’s a pure masterpiece in black, evoking such characters as Medusa and Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent. Despite its elegantly woven bodice and ornately jeweled eye-mask, reminiscent of the masqueraded balls of 16th Century Renaissance Italy, the piece is fantastically disturbing. Great spikes emerge through the shoulder-blades of the piece as though they had pushed through the skin of this mythological beast. Writhing snake-like spirals shoot from the head; long, Edward-Scissorhand-like fingers are poised in sophisticated demonism; metal chains choke the corset like makeshift ribs, and latex covers any visible skin, leaving the figure without a mouth. Yet, this piece is so stylish it almost hurts to look at it. The lace shoulder-cover is exquisitely delicate, the choker wondrously bejewelled. I love it, and I would even go so far as to say that I would wear it, albeit without the latex mouth covering (I think I’d prefer to breath).
Nightwraith by Ildy Izso
“Wearability” is a primary part of the judging process in WOW. Each piece is considered for 1) Its health and safety (i.e., can the model breathe and see, is the piece comfortable to wear), 2) The quality of construction – it should be immaculately created, and not inclined to fall apart, 3) The conception of the piece must meet the brief of the section theme it has been entered into, and entrants must explain their conception at length, 4) It must be (surprise) innovative. This is obviously of utmost importance – the entrant must create a piece that is completely original, whether in perspective, material, execution, or all of the above. Many entrants are increasingly focusing on environmental awareness in their works, as we see in Rinaldy’s piece. Fashion as a whole is gradually working towards sustainable work practices, in material sourcing, worker’s rights, and manufacturing methods, and I think that such a creative execution of these values in the form of the WOW competition is a brilliant way to bring such matters to the fore, and to prove that being environmentally friendly does not cost us style.
Let us end this article with one of the most astonishing designs I think I have ever seen (though, in terms of wearability, I’m not sure I could pull this one off). The piece I’m talking about is Jack Irving’s “Sea Urchin Explosion” of the 2019 competition. This United Kingdom designer has created works for the likes of Lady Gaga, and this piece brilliantly demonstrates his designing prowess. “Sea Urchin Explosion” is genius. A perfect blend of fashion and the natural landscape, an eruption of huge, vibrant red spines bursting forth from the human body. It does look like a sea urchin, an enormous, angry beast, perfectly symmetrical and blissfully satisfying to look at.
Sea Urchin Explosion by U.K. Designer Jack Irving at WOW
These works make me fall in love with fashion, and to me deem it a worthy art form to contend with my love for classical art. They inspire me to play more with my appearance, and to never doubt the impact that fashion can have in the art world.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to go and put on the brightest clothes I have in my wardrobe, even if all I do in them is sit at home and write this article.
In 2006 the Moorilla Museum of Antiquities closed for a huge revamping and after the input of $75 million and five years of construction the Museum of Old and New Art emerged (MONA). Located in Holbart, Tasmania, the museum has since conversed with the world of art in an idiosyncratic and spectacular way.
The man behind the mission, David Walsh, made his fortune as a gambler. When MONA opened he would go on to describe it as a “subversive Disneyland.” The eclectic collection gathered in the museum are tied by the twin themes of sex and death. Ancient art, such as the mummy of Ta-Sheret-Min, resides close by the famed “Cloaca”: a series of vessels conceived by the Belgian artist Wilm Devoye that holds a functioning digestive tract. The vessels are fed in the late morning; excreting occurs by early afternoon.
The museum is statement, not of high art or the understanding of such, but of a playful experience and attendance to art. The account of the construction of MONA highlights this dynamic that the museum is trying to communicate:
“This is a mistake. People will think you don’t know what you’re doing, like you’re a rich man and you’ve just got all your toys around you – your big gallery, your tennis court. You won’t be taken seriously.” And David said, “Exactly.”
Statements from MONA radiate this playful irreverence: “Bars, café, restaurants and cemetery on site,” and again when describing what MONA is: “a museum, or something.” Of course, there is a seriousness to this mask of indifference. It is an invitational strategy; everyone is welcome to find and experience this strange world.
The Ferry from Holbart to MONA – Sheep as Seats.Photo: Carl Kruse
Things become clearer when we think about the space made to house David’s vision. He says the best way to approach the museum is by sea: “to ascend from the water as the ancient Greeks did to go to their temples.” There the visitor is met with a single-story entry, nothing overwhelming, until inside a spiral staircase takes them down to three large labyrinthine spaces. There are no windows, there is only the stony silence of the descent.
Descending staircase into MONA. Photo Blooloop.
It is all for the experience of viewing art, of creating a space where the visitor can give themselves to the spectacle and possible meaning of art. David fashioned his museum in direct opposition to what he had found in other museums – the building shouldn’t dwarf the visitor nor impose its stateliness upon them but facilitate the interaction between the visitor and the art.
Visitors are recommended the ‘O’ app, either provided or available for download on their phones. The ‘O’ app was introduced so that visitors wouldn’t have to spend time reading the small prints on plaques by each art piece, instead they can immerse themselves freely. The visitor does not need to feel “that they haven’t appreciated the piece or understood it without the plaque.” The ‘O’ app has a menu where the viewer can learn about the art under the title ‘Art Wank’; it can also recommend what food to try and where the toilets are.
David Walsh’s “anti-museum” theme has proved something in its wake; the attraction of, to use Richard Flanagan’s words, “the ultimate senseless chance.” It this direct wish of Walsh’s to “piss of the academics” which has found such exceeding popularity – in 2015 MONA was ranked as the world’s best modern art gallery, above London’s Tate modern. It is one of Carl Kruse’s favorite museums in the world.
It is not that we will find all the pieces on display as beautiful or even remotely interesting; we may even be repulsed. It is this rapid juxtaposition of chance that offers up this experience of being face to face with something of life, something like a drunken night filled with half-memories and unexpected turns. MONA is a playful provocateur entering into the high-minded conversation about art.
The provocateur broaches the subject from a different point of view. Most people attending, it may be presumed, have visited another art gallery with its prestigious formal ordering of art. Any ordering of art tells us something of how we should think about art. MONA has opted for the fully immersive, nonchalant, experience; it may be anti-museum, but it is not anti-art – It is asking us to speak about it, to experience it, in a different way.
Sydney Nolan’s “THE SNAKE” at MONA.
Walsh’s playground doesn’t require us to have done our homework or that we understand the cultural and historical significance of a certain piece; and, if it is culturally significant, that we too find it astonishing. MONA finds much to say in the playground itself without caring if there is anything meaningful to say about the equipment. It is answering a need for collective experience in a reality unlike our own, something like a ritual.
In 2018, Walsh spent a further $32 million on a new wing in the MONA complex. It was named Pharos. This section has been spoken about as, in some ways, the antithesis to the MONA. Walsh wanted to create a “changeless thing, a totem, a legacy.” As the name suggests (Pharos being one of the ancient wonders of the world – the Alexandrian lighthouse) it is a beacon of light, but it also acts as a procession; a ritualistic walk for the un-believer.
Walsh’s idea to suffuse this section with assemblages that will never be moved has its reasons. Basing this conception on ancient rituals where it seems the idea is to “merely walk around them,” Walsh has created this space so the visitor can commune with their inner selves. It brings to the foreground what the museum is about: sex and death. If the rest of MONA is this chance, transient, sex, then Pharos is the acknowledgment and appreciation of changeless death.
It is with Pharos that we are aware of the magnitude of the MONA enterprise. It is not merely an eclectic arrangement of contemporary and old art, but a monument towards why and how art is created. It is a space which confronts the visitor with something of the wonder in which art finds its source.
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When I was around 13, I visited the Tate Gallery at the Liverpool Docks in Northern England primarily to see an exhibition of J.M.W. Turner and Cy Twombly, a starkly contrasting set of artists and the latter of which I actually had next-to-no prior knowledge of. Turner’s tableaux were mesmerizing, a sheer cacophony of violent maritime depictions in furious reds and oranges juxtaposed to ominous grey skylines. The walls of the gallery were filled with gloriously calm sunsets at sea alongside terrifying raging flames and waves that curved and swayed and spat like sharks feasting on shoals of fish. It was wonderful, an utterly overwhelming delight for the senses.
In the next room on I was suddenly surrounded by Cy Twombly’s enormous canvases. Scrawls of paint had been twirled and splatted and daubed onto the huge white expanses creating a graffiti-like effect, some with the appearance of words. I hated it. It felt all wrong, an expression of seeming carelessness towards the production of his masterpieces. After having wandered dreamily through Turner’s paintings, this felt like a punch in the eyes, a pointlessly unartistic exposition in the name of ‘art’. Yet, I felt unable to say anything against those huge, grotesque paintings, being observed as they were by a silent audience of respectful spectators.
I understand the differences in artistry and approach to creation much more now than I did at 13. I understand that the process of creating a masterpiece is not prescriptive, nor is it defined by one particular artistic style. I also understand that the emotions I felt, being surrounded by Twombly’s scribbles, were valid sentiments, and likely would have pleased Twombly himself should I have recounted them to him. But that doesn’t discount my anger, my frustration that art with no merit except its colossal size and thus imposing presence should be beside the tender daubs of someone like Turner. The art world has always had opposing views on what is, or is not, art, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I don’t disagree that Twombly’s paintings are art. I also don’t wish to debate what ‘beauty’ is with regards to art, as it isn’t always relevant. A piece of art can be incredible without being beautiful. I just want to understand how it is we came to the art world of today, of the 21st Century, where we no longer criticise art.
I am in a generation bewitched by social media, a generation that is unashamedly narcissistic and that relishes self-importance. It is also the generation that produced the Instagram poet Rupi Kaur, along with her pages of simplistic, immature poetry. I have been to slam poetry contests where the winner was crowned not for poetic merit, but for loudly proclaiming how much hardship they had endured through their life. If I sound embittered, it’s because I am. Bygone eras are much the talk of mine and past generations, times when music was exciting, when people wrote letters, when people read books and wrote ones just as wonderful. I often think about the jazz scene of 1920’s Harlem, a sea of exciting talent emerging from an ever-increasing black population, with such greats as Fats Waller and Willie The Lion Smith striking piano keys in the jazz clubs that popped up left right and centre as New York became the epicentre of jazz in the 1930s. It’s that feeling of ‘You had to be there’. I have no doubt in my mind that the musicians playing in Harlem in the 1920s were often showered with tomatoes, booed off-stage, and not invited back until they were better in their respective trades. To be criticised is to be encouraged, to have the drive to get better, to show how good you can really be if you put your mind to something.
Part of the problem with new art is its audience. We can no longer heckle bad poets and bad musicians, or tell people that their paintings are unimaginative or uninspiring. We live, strangely, in a social climate that tells us we need ‘trigger warnings’ for certain books we read, while we watch poets read lines that shout about how they were bullied, raped, oppressed, and harassed without a metaphor in sight to disguise their meanings. And we sit, stony-faced, silent, and clap them, congratulate them on how brave they are to tell us all how much we should pity them. Art is no longer questioned, at least not within the younger generations that I am often amongst.
I remember when I was 15 and won the Young Poet Laureateship for the region where I grew up. Time and time again I would write poems, and time and time again my family would tell me they needed improving, or that they weren’t good at all. Criticism was a wonderful thing for me. It allowed me to grow as an artist, to shape my language into something subtle, sharp and resonant. I was better for it, a more rounded poet and writer, and never once did I resent feedback on my writing, be it bad, or worse, dismissive.
In a world obsessed with art but unable to distinguish the good from the purely egotistical, we find ourselves stranded. I still fell as though I am in that gallery, looking at Twombly’s artwork, perplexed and unimpressed. We discussed the paintings when we went back to school. Twombly’s paintings were ‘experimental’, ‘disturbing’, ‘interesting’, and ‘thought-provoking’. The space to say how much I hated them disappeared quickly as an overriding sentiment of respect for Twombly’s art overtook the classroom. Was it because it was in a gallery, thus it had to be worthy of our awe and wonder? I can’t say. But I think back on that day where I remained silent, and I also think about what would have happened if my family had praised my poetry when they in fact thought it flawed, meaningless and dull. And I will toast to the day that I have the courage to stand up and tell a bad poet what I really think of them, when I have the courage to tell my friend that her indie alternative jazz band needs to get their act together, because all of their music sounds the damn same. I will praise the day that someone tells me they didn’t like my poetry performance, that it was crass or forced or unintelligent, and I will relish the possibility of self-improvement under the motivation of their harsh words. In a world that censors negativity in the face of art, I hope that we can learn to speak our minds once again.
It has been a busy season for my artist friend Yury Kharchenko with the completion of several new works, the latest being a series that is generating controversy though the artworks have yet to be publicly exhibited. In these latest works, Kharchenko depicts comic and pop culture icons at the entrance to Auschwitz, with the unmistakable towers of death juxtaposed in the background, creating conflict and tension by bringing two worlds together that never should have met. The works include Scrooge McDuck Protects his Money in Front of Auschwitz and a series titled Waiting For A Super Hero, all raising the question why didn’t a Superman or a Batman or any Disney hero save the Jews? The super heroes always saved everyone but why not now? One of Kharchenko’s main preoccupations is whether what happened before — the horror of the Holocaust — could ever happen again.
Meanwhile, a work by Kharchenko, “House of Hope, Number 2 (oil on canvas 2019), formerly of the Paul J. Schupf collection, has been donated to the Colby College Museum of Art as part of the last will of Mr. Schupf who passed away December 4, 2019. Besides Kharchenko’s work, Schupf was one of the largest collectors of Francis Bacon, Alex Katz and Richard Serra, works that will now be featured at the Colby College Museum of Art. For more information on the museum visit: https://www.colby.edu/museum/
Yury was also featured in a New York Times article (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/08/world/europe/germany-identity.html ) on the topic of Jewish/German identity in Germany – a prominent thread that runs through his art — where he defiantly says he is a German Jew in spite of, or maybe because of, the armed guards in front of his son’s school in Berlin.
In the latest news, Yury will participate in the upcoming “Heart: 100 Artists. 1 Mission” project at the Hamburger Kunsthalle (one of the largest art museums in Germany) that runs from October 20 through November 8, 2020. The exhibition then re-launches at the Berlinische Galerie from November 18 through 26, 2020.
The “Heart, 100 Artists. 1 Mission” seeks to raise money for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and to help projects that aid refugees in Germany. In a government-approved lottery, the project will sell tickets for Forty Euros a piece with the money from the first 25,000 tickets handed over to the UNHCR. Each ticket gives the participant the opportunity to get an artwork from the exhibition, all of which have been donated by the 100 participating artists, including Yury. The list of artists is available at https://www.hamburger-kunsthalle.de/en/heart-100-artist-1-mission
The exhibition is organized by the U.N. Refugee Aid – Germany in an effort to strongly express solidarity and support to the many millions of people fleeing their homes due to conflict and poverty. Since its beginning in Bonn, Germany in 1980, this organization has worked to ameliorate the living situation for refugees and to help them fully integrate in new host countries.
What to do with an abandoned, six-story tall World War II bunker in Berlin? If you’re Christian Boros, build a 10,000 square-foot penthouse atop, fill lower levels with eclectic post-1990 art and open to the public.
Side view of the Boros Bunker with war damage. Photo: Carl Kruse
The Boros Bunker, originally designed by Albert Speer in 1942 as an air raid shelter for top-level Nazis, metamorphosed into a banana storage during the Communist era, then into a rave hotspot in the 1990’s before finding itself in the hands of Christian and Karen Boros.
A five-year renovation by Berlin’s Realarchitektur resulted in its present-day glory, receiving the Beton Architectural Prize for 2008.
Night descends on the Boros Bunker. Photo: Carl Kruse
A historical structure, home, and private art collection all in one, the bunker is a fantastic testament to what we can do if we want to do it. The artists in the collection include Olafur Eliasson (a favorite of Christian and Karen), Damien Hirst, Elizabeth Payton, Anselm Reyle, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Tobias Rehberger. This is not a museum but a private vision, the personal adventure of two people who love art and gathered what they thought worth gathering. And as they went collecting, they imagined living with all of it (or at least on top of it), which led them to the bunker.
Exhibit within the Boros Bunker. Photo: Carl Kruse
This place is worth a visit when in Berlin. Its collection might leave you wondering what is Art, and why some works are here. Christian Boros perhaps wonders himself as he says that he deliberately buys art that he does not understand. Whatever your impression it is a magnificent project, an adventure, one heck of a wild exploration.
Christian Boros says he deliberately collects art he does not understand, like a series of tires suspended from the ceiling. Photo: Carl Kruse in Berlin.