Tags: exhibiting music, performance, (re-)contextualization.

SOUNDFAIR is an exhibition project based in Berlin that has set as its purpose the re-contextualization of music through the auditive exhibiting of music as unique artworks.

The goal of SOUNDFAIR is to establish a context for composed sound to be understood and consumed as an artwork. To exhibit music as a means of artistic expression mainly without any visual component or implied visual or spatial strategy.

A project by Ari Benjamin Meyers, Clara Meister, Thomas Mayer

Performance "Solo" with the singer Ruth Rosenfeld, at the space "Loge" in Berlin
COPYRIGHT Concept and Sound: Soundfair
COPYRIGHT Music and Words "Solo": Ari Benjamin Meyers
COPYRIGHT Images: Douglas Gordon
Courtesy: Douglas Gordon

Performance "Solo" with the singer Ruth Rosenfeld, at the space "Loge" in Berlin
COPYRIGHT Concept and Sound: Soundfair
COPYRIGHT Music and Words "Solo": Ari Benjamin Meyers
COPYRIGHT Images: Douglas Gordon
Courtesy: Douglas Gordon

Performance "Solo" with the singer Ruth Rosenfeld, at the space "Loge" in Berlin
COPYRIGHT Concept and Sound: Soundfair
COPYRIGHT Music and Words "Solo": Ari Benjamin Meyers
COPYRIGHT Images: Douglas Gordon
Courtesy: Douglas Gordon

30 June 2017 / by / in
The Cathedral of Erotic Misery (Michael Johansson after Kurt Schwitters)

“Salomon saith, There is no new thing upon the earth. So that as Plato had an imagination, that all knowledge was but remembrance; so Salomon giveth his sentence, that all novelty is but oblivion.” Francis Bacon – The Essays    

In July 1920, Berlin was the home of the first International Dada Fair. Among “The Usual Suspects” (Hannah Höch, Raoul Hausmann, George Grosz, John Heartfield and Sophie Tauber), that exhibition featured also a photo series of a young Kurt Schwitters. Those pictures documented the early stage of his ongoing project “Merzbau”: an ambitious site-specific intervention that the German artist was building in his family house in Hannover. Later, in an essay called “Ich und meine Ziele ” (1933), Schwitters himself would refer at the first column of this work as the “Cathedral of Erotic Misery”. The so-called “Merzbau” was a sculptural environment that Schwitters created transforming gradually 6 rooms located in the Waldhausenstrasse 5. It was a Herculean task spanned over 14 years; a time during which Schwitters would thoroughly collect, assembly, paint and rearrange all sorts of found objects into a kind of ever-shifting and ever-expanding abstract walk-in collage.  

The legacy of this consecrated avant-garde artist includes works that oscillated between the creative imprint of Dadaism, Expressionism, Constructivism and Surrealism conveyed through collage, poetry, sound, sculpture, graphic design, typography and installation art. This cocktail may as well blend some of the current aesthetical flirts and appeals encountered when navigating through the artistic landscape of Berlin. Many of which are echoed in the oeuvre of Swedish artist Michael Johansson.  

Johansson arrived at sculpture and installation art coming from Photography. Despite the apparent gap between these two paths, Johansson’s characteristic way of scrutinizing the world has always laid in the point where the familiar and the unfamiliar meet, in the attempt to blur the limits between the common and the unexpected. There is a similar notion upon which his early photographic works and his sculptural pieces are based: the intrinsic capacity of objects to build contexts themselves, nourishing from all the fragmented narratives they conceal – once they are separated from their background.   Michael (like Schwitters) collects, assemblies and rearranges all sorts of found objects that he camouflages into sculptural-like collages – sometimes autonomous pieces, some others sculptural environments filling architectural gaps. Somehow constructivist in their appearance and minimalistic in their serial-repetitive nature, they also share a common feature with the primitive Surrealists in spirit: the fascination with the object trouvé . The practice of the assemblage denies the industrial nature of most of these objects, in a sort of alchemic operation during which they appear to be handicraft objects instead. It implies a return to the manual, where the artist’s hands-on work encounters the matter-of-factness of the objects, acknowledging their embedded narratives to emerge and, at the same time, revealing a necessity to build new meanings.

Michael Johansson, 'Ghost II'

Michael Johansson, 'Tetris', Witte de with (Rotterdam).

Michael Johansson, 'Self contained'.

Michael Johansson (in his studio)

Both Schwitters and Johansson’s works constitute a chronic themselves of a (wasted) past or present, a trace that can’t be erased by the new homogenized shape containing those displaced objects.  The same paradoxical relationship between denial and remembering can be identified in the troubled way in which a place like Berlin conjugates actions in past or present tense. It is general knowledge that in this city, demolishing, restoring and building conjures up deep political meanings respectively – followed up by big discrepancies between the ones that protest against forgetting and those who choose to let go. Over the years, Berlin turned into a kind of ongoing Merzbau: a huge ever-shifting and ever-expanding walk-in installation where all those fragmented narratives compose different strata layers piled up without the other, assembled in a frame where functionality and the validity of out-dated ideologies are constantly being called into question. Johansson’s art seem to point exactly in this direction, and in the way that most of his works attempt to make coherent aesthetic sense of the world around him incorporating found objects, his installations resemble the ones developed by Schwitters in the 1920s; portraying to some extent, Berlin itself.   A place that continues to have the same enemies of yesteryear: Bourgeois and Philistines; and that still attracts and seduces the same kind of people: Fetishists, object-hunters, bankrupted dreamers, activists (neo-Dadaists), graphic designers, typographers, poets, sound artists, sculptors and installation artists. All assembled in the “psychological collage ” embodied by this city: hopelessly romantic and obsessed with aesthetics. The Cathedral of Erotic Misery.  


Paz Ponce Pérez-Bustamante

Paz Ponce Pérez-Bustamante Spain, 1985   Paz Ponce has a Master’s Degree in Art History from the Complutense University of Madrid. In 2009-2010 she studied at the Freie Universität in Berlin.   In her years as a student she co-founded a curatorial collective: Calipsofacto Projects, devoted to the promotion of emerging Spanish art, specially focused on new channels of distribution and spaces for the art, with a site-specific cross-disciplinary approach. Since September 2012 she is co-director of the Calipsofacto Cultural Association.  For four months, between 2010-2011 she was an intern at the Parra & Romero Contemporary Art Gallery in Madrid.  After graduation, she moved to Berlin, participating in the 2011 Spring Curatorial Residency Program at the Node Center for Curatorial Studies, where she continued on for 6 months as an intern devoted to fundraising research, awarded with a Leonardo Scholarship.  Between 2012-2013 she worked as an artist manager for a curated arts representation agency based in Berlin. She is also a curator member of berlinerpool, a cooperative network of artists, spaces and curators based in Berlin. Currently she works as an independent curator, project manager and fundraiser collaborating with several art initiatives both in Madrid and Berlin, where she lives.  Personal curatorial interests revolve around modern subjectivity and the mechanisms generating awareness towards identity issues, including: the symbolic, the collective unconscious, historical memory, the mechanism of remembrance (and forgetting), negotiating processes between the individual and the collective, public/private frictions (the dynamics of interaction), or relational aesthetics. A puzzle where language is conceived as a tool, interdisciplinary a playful attitude and contextualisation a professional pathology.


berlinerpool is an artist initiative that structures a cooperative network of artists, curators and art spaces. The online profile pages and mobile archive provide information about berlinerpool members. berlinerpool offers consulting and research services for curators, develops its own projects and participates in exhibitions and events.

30 June 2017 / by / in
Body as… Xinglang Guo’s artistic practice in the context of public space.

As a curator I am interested in the inter-dependence between art, architecture, society, and how all of them relate in the construction of public and urban space. This approach pushes me towards collaborations with artists whose artistic approach is not concentrated on producing a physical art work, but who are more concentrated on creating situations or interactions, which need local or social involvement, and reflect upon historical, social, or political contexts.  Because of my background – having been born in a communist country and grown up in a new capitalistic reality – I like to observe and comment on the changes, differences and similarities, between so-called „East and West”. I explore problems of gender, as well as cultural, political, or historical identity.  All these aspects led me to the conclusion that art, apart from its esthetic and decorative values, should be dependent on the situation and context, and towards building dialogues and confrontations between societies.

I would like to present a Chinese female artist Xinglang Guo, whom I first met during her stay in culturia residency in Berlin in 2011, and whose artistic development I have been following since then.  Xinglang Guo was born in 1984 in Tinjin in China. She has studied both at the Nankai University in China and at the Bauhaus University in Weimar. While studying in Germany she has been concentrating on performance and art in public spaces. Since 2011 she lives and works in Berlin, where she has already participated in various solo and group exhibitions.

Xinglang Guo uses her body to search for the limits of her exploration and emotions. She treats it as a non-verbal way to communicate with the public. While preparing for the new project she tries to integrate her own experiences, memory and dreams, with body movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Her approach is to set up an interaction not only with the space itself, but more importantly, with the participants who, no matter if they will participate or not, are engaged and become an active element of Xinglang Guo’s interventions.

Xinglang Guo, ‘Moving Meditations’

What has attracted me the most in her artistic practice is an approach toward body and public space. Her own body changes to an artistic tool, which becomes both: artistic object and medium. The objective character of her body is seen in these performances, in which it becomes an integral part of public space. In these projects she unites with the architectural forms (Human Body as Architecture, Berlin 2012) or she confronts with unknown people (“The Follower” or “The Querer”).

Xinglang Guo, ‘Human Body as Architecture’

Xinglang Guo’s body has been passively confronted with either architectural objects or human bodies building a misleading cluster of contradictions. In confrontation with the architectural structure, the body of the artist is seen as a continuations of the architectural forms, or opposingly, as a disturbing element in the established urban landscape. When the artist confronts her body with other people, her artistic pose changes into an extremely passive one. The interaction between the artist and the accidently met people is not meant to take place, on the contrary, she tries to arise a feeling of discomfort and strangeness.   Often the boarder between each of her artistic actions is so thin that it is hard to clearly define which of her activities should be described as only a performance, an intervention, or interpreted as an installation. The fluent transition between installation performance and intervention in public space allows the artist to open her work to a wider interpretation and does not close it into one, a correct and certain.

Xinglang Guo, ‘Big Chair’

Xinglang Guo, ‘Myths of the River Personal Island’

Xinglang Guo, ‘Touchdown’

While analyzing the artistic practice of Xinglang Guo I cannot help myself to not refer to another great female artist, Valie Export. Although this establish artist with worldwide recognition represents a totally different art generation, and a different approach towards art, the same attitude towards using the body in public space could be seen in performances of Xinglang Guo and the Austrian artist. By comparing the two projects: Valie Export’s ”Body Configurations” made in the 70s and 80s of the last century, and Xinglang Guo’s performances played in public spaces, it could be clearly seen that the Chinese artist unconsciously (or maybe she is aware) took the same path started by the Austrian artist almost 4 decades ago. Guo’s body as well, somehow tries to fit into the public space and give it a human character.

Xinglang Guo, ‘Shortcut’

Paulina Olszewska

Paulina Olszewska is an independent art curator and art critic. She studied Art History at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków (Poland). Since 2010 she lives and works in Berlin. As a curator she collaborates with various artists from all around the world. She has curated projects in different European cities, such as Warsaw, Kraków, Nürnberg, Aarhus and Berlin.  As an art critic she is recognized for her cooperation with Polish art magazines such as „Obieg“ or „Architektura i Biznes“.  In 2011 she joined berlinerpool, Berlin artist archive, and since then she supports its activities.


berlinerpool is an artist initiative that structures a cooperative network of artists, curators and art spaces. The online profile pages and mobile archive provide information about berlinerpool members. berlinerpool offers consulting and research services for curators, develops its own projects and participates in exhibitions and events.

30 June 2017 / by / in
Art does not (yet) sell houses. A German review on Athens’ ReMap4

Small, tiny houses are placed along the road. Some streets have all their entrances painted in pink. Men of all ages quicken their pace and disappear in the entrances’ red lights. One punter still wears his crash helmet on his head. During the day, Pakistani children play in the streets, after dawn it the place for the city’s junkies. And in between one can see young people with neon green and white maps labeled as »ReMap4«.

What was meant to be remapped in September was Kerameikos, an ancient pottery district north-west of the Acropolis.


ReMap 4, image by Tula Plumi.


It was a strange and disconcerting scenery in which »ReMap«, a contemporary art platform, took place for the fourth time. For almost a month, international galleries and independent projects moved into abandoned apartments from the sixties and neoclassicist buildings.

Berlin based gallery Peres Projects showed large-format, psychedelic paintings of Jeff Elrod.

Besides there were a German-Greek project called Gallery Utopia Athens/Berlin and the German frontviewsgallery, an independent collective of artists and theorists.

Frontviews showed a group exhibition named »Idiopolis — Dialectics between Subject and Society« curated by Stephan Köhler. Idiot, in this case, is not meant as swear word, but refers to the ancient Greek word ἰδιώτης/idiot, which describes a person without a political office. In ancient Greek a person without a political office was a private person. Back then as well as today the public sphere has to organize and provide spaces allowing one to be private.

The works shown in the exhibition »Idiopolis – Dialectics between Subject and Society« tackled the relation between public and private sphere and seemed to raise a virulent question in Kerameikos: Where do the lines between private and public run? Who is responsible for public space?


King Jason, image by Tula Plumi.


The Greek investor and art collector Iasson Tsakonas bought a lot of the houses ReMap 4 was taking place in. His firm OLIAROS has been responsible for the organization since 2007. He gives young and underrepresented artists the opportunity to show their work in remarkable spaces and also supports independent projects. Participants are only requested to pay for marketing and organizational costs in case their budget allows it.

Still, one could have the impression that someone there did not want to wait until Kerameikos changes like many other districts in Europe’s capitals today. In Kerameikos, gentrification got a rocket propulsion. With a lot of money an important space has been given to art. And it looks like art has to sell properties in return. Around the galleries’ White Cubes, the first skeletons of change have already been built: Apartment houses made out of steel and glass in a modern style which OLIAROS successfully sells to VIPs like Madonna and Tom Hanks on Antiparos Island. Here in Kerameikos they look like beings from another planet. KM Properties, Tsakonas Athens’ project, is currently less successful. The crisis has temporarily stopped it.


Kunsthalle Athena, image by Tula Plumi.


At this year’s opening, Athens’ major Giorgos Kaminis was present for the first time. Politics is called to account for what is happening in Kerameikos. The district has to change if the city wants to stop its decay.

But unfortunately change, like other public tasks, has been handed over to investors. Only what does it mean for the community when not merely islands but whole districts are sold to rich private investors who turn them into luxury enclaves? The Greek crisis got Kerameikos a pause for breath which should be used for a negotiation about participation in the city’s spaces and the nature of living together. It is not only a Greek but a European question raised at the foot of the Acropolis. 


Under construction, image by Tula Plumi.



Rebecca Hoffmann

Rebecca Hoffmann studied German Literature at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, she currently works on Sigmund Freud's unpublished notebooks. She works for the Berlin based art platform "frontviews", for which she lately curated an exhibition in Berlin, focused on Greece. 


Frontviews gallery

Frontviews is a collective of artists and theorists, based in Berlin. They develop different concepts to present contemporary art in collaboration with international non-profit organisations and galleries. The collective was founded in memory of Karmin Kartowikromo (*01.12.1948 – † 06.06.2011), Emmo Grofsmid (*29.12.1951 – † 06.06.2011) former Frontviews Gallery, Berlin/Rotterdam.

30 June 2017 / by / in

The following issue will be an open report about the participation of frontviews at ReMap4, an art festival in Athens, which took place in September 2014. “Open report” means in that context a collection of text samples from different authors and selected pictures also from different members of the group: Vassiliea Stylianidou (GR), Nisaar Ulama (D), Vincent Grunwald (D), Leon Kahane (D), Stella Geppert (D) and Stephan Köhler (D).

The aim is to offer different inside views on the situation concerning the districts of Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio in Athens, the goals of the festival and nevertheless the role of drifting artists as a forerunners of cultural and social segregation.


Introduction of frontviews

Frontviews is the common platform for an international collective of artists and theorists aiming to offer a collaborative panel, whereabouts exceptional positions and concepts in contemporary art are capable of freely reaching fruition. Based in Berlin and without a settled art space we develop different formats of exhibitions in collaboration with different associations and galleries in Germany and abroad. Origins of the collective were initially established in the exhibition space of former Frontviews Gallery by Karmin Kartowikromo (*01.12.1948 – † 06.06.2011), Emmo Grofsmid (*29.12.1951 – † 06.06.2011), and Curating Assistant, Stephan Köhler. 

Four main points shape our agenda: 1. the contention with the new space at each new exhibition, 2. the investigation for acute themes, acute tendencies in contemporary art, 3. the on going try to innovate formats of collective cultural action und 4. to have a look on the interchange with activists of other countries, especially in Europe.


Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio in Athens // the place




This part of Athens is rough, dusty and sun-dappled like the rest of this city. But in between the cuts of the wide and fast driven roads connecting the centre with the suburbs there are more silent areas fusing an architectural mix of traditional decorated city houses from the nineteenth century, functional buildings from the final decades of the last century, contemporary apartment blocs with traditional quiet squares and green backyards. Although the population is a vibrant mix of long-time residents, immigrants from various countries and just the absence of residents – a lot of properties are broached and abandoned – it is possible to detect three main groups of residents, which shape the face of the district. First: the operators of the red light district, second: the new real estate investors strong connected with a fast expanding art- fashion- and club scene and third: the junkies hosting all the streets and place with their passive existence. To make it short: this district offers a unique mood of animating consternation.


»Idiopolis«  // the aims of the exhibition at ReMap4 in summer 2013

The exhibition was about the interchange / the relationship of privacy and public and the possibilities to set that relation in an artistic work or action. Besides several classical heterotopias in an original Foucaultian Sense, which are defined by their own unique structures and rules (like jails, hospitals, graveyards, shopping malls and even galleries) there are two main-types of space in our society: the private space and the public space. On one hand they differ in law and use: the private room is rented or bought by a private person to have an own space for the individual favours of behaviour and rules. The public space is organized by the estate and open for mostly every citizen. So first and at all the difference is set in a political-spatial definition. On the other hand there are a lot of interchanges between the two categories – especially since »virtual places« (e.g. facebook) challenge our definitions of spatial like »space« or »frontier« The exhibition concentrated on these interchanges, which connect the basic dualism of “private” and “public” in many possible ways. How can we draw a line between – or maybe we can‘t? – these two spaces?

Focussing more on cultural field, we will investigate these opponents not only in an architectural meaning, but expand the access also on artistic production. Is not every artistic action a transfer from a private planed and prepared idea to a public statement in the moment it comes to an exhibition? Following that, artistic work is a public action, a capturing of public responsibility in general. “I have an idea, a “strange object” and I want the society to know and perceive it”. If you look around you will find a lot of professions, which are claiming a social responsibility and whose works may even have a greater impact on society, for example: politicians, officials, businessmen, scientist etc..  Already knowing that artistic action is a transfer from privacy to public in general, so to say a logical base of any artistic work, this exhibition makes one step further and brings together works which are setting the focus exactly on the shifting borderlines between private space and behaviour to public spaces and action. While these artists introduce political statements in form of work of arts into cultural discussion, they also reflect consciously and actively on their own situation as somebody “who” goes public and depends in his work on public reaction.

 A good image for this theoretical topic is the window, because it marks exactly the surface, the mirror, the visual transfer-zone in between private and public, in between “inside” and “outside”, in between subject and environment, in between soul and world in space and materiality. That’s why the motive and the idea of a window could be a kind of repeating element of this exhibition.

 The third connection between the works and a main characteristic of the show is the obvious selection of Greek artists meeting international artists. The situation in Greece plays an important role for all countries, because it shows the limits of economic growth and political control in the western system. While the citizens of Greece (the birth place of the western idea of democracy, the localisation of our common Utopia) are suffering the most on the financial crisis, the economy of other countries like Germany profits the most of the actual tendencies. While the Greeks are leaving their private holdings and go into public to take responsibility for their rights, a growing class of rich citizens worldwide are seeking private, familiar comfort as the ultimate goal of their existence and leaving public responsibility behind themselves.

Most of our political terms and ideas we use today began their history in the Greek antiquity. As well as the distinction between »public« and »private«. At the very beginning of the distinction between these two spheres, we find a term, which sounds quite strange today: Idiot, or Greek ἰδιώτης, idiōtēs, means a private citizen. But of course, in being that, he benefits from a public sphere, that allows him to be private. Today we only know a very negative connotation of the word may basing on the denotation of somebody who is just caring of himself. Maybe it‘s time to think again about the idiot – and the relevance if this term for actual politics. Behind that question stands, we think, the question Roland Barthes asked when he was think about the concept  »idiorrhythmic« – How to Live together?

 Nisaar Ulama and Stephan Köhler


»Idiopolis«, exhibition view, Vincent Grunwald, Stella Geppert


»Idiopolis«, exhibition view, Leon Kahane, Vincent Grunwald 


Javier Hinojosa, Wedge, 2013, showed at »Idiopolis«, Athens 2013


Leon Kahane image from the series Frontex, 2009, showed at »Idiopolis«, Athens 2013 


Oliver Ressler Robbery, 2011, showed at »Idiopolis«, Athens 2013


»Idiopolis«, exhibition view, Stella Geppert, Stelios Karamanolis 


Willem Besselink i-cal/u-cal-series, 2012, showed at »Idiopolis«, Athens 2013


The artists of »Idiopolis«

Akim | Javier Hinojosa | Leon Kahane | Marc Klee | Marc Bijl | Oliver Ressler | Stelios Karamanolis | Stella Geppert | Tula Plumi | Vassiliea Stylianidou | Vincent Grunwald | Willem Besselink 


The share of Vassiliea Stylianidou


 „Additional to the statement on my picture, I would like to point out, that is was very important for me to do my work in public space. I did not want to use any of the buildings, that Tsakonas offered to us. My intention was to establish an own framework besides the official framework of ReMap4. In that way I understood my participation as a statement in the controversy about the gentrification of Kerameikos and about the condition of crisis affecting Greece and Europe in general. The word “sovereignty” that was cleaned and hung up – the washing of sovereignty has to be read with a question mark.”


Vassiliea Stylianidou, WHAT IS TO BE UNDONE (Athens Version), showed at »Idiopolis«, Athens 2013 


The share of Stella Geppert

From: Social spaces in the focus of sculptural field research / Jule Reuter / in "Achso", Stella Geppert, 2006

 “An ongoing theme in Stella Geppert's sculptural work is the relationship of people to their spatial environment. This relationship is difficult to comprehend, being dynamic and changeable, and defined by various factors and processes, some of which are not visible. The artist attempts to approach this complexity by raising questions that constantly recur and enlarge upon themselves. The question of corporeality, says Geppert, is the foundation and stimulation for all formal development in her work.    

Like a field researcher she investigates concrete starting situations – the sculptural results are products of the respective site-specific analysis. In this she adheres to the concept-art-based practice of working "in situ", which declares the context to be part of the work.”


Stella Geppert Crosslinks, Super Reactive Subjects – series, SRS, Berlin, 2011 


The share of Vincent Grunwald and Leon Kahane  

Blind Facades of the Art Net      

-Ties between art event and city upgrade-

What happens when you are being copied and pasted into another place? You might feel sick because you're compressed, because you lost information on the way.                                                                                    

Who did copy and paste you? We have to guess that it was the holder of the image rights into which you have been pasted. And as long as the indication of source is made you might be copied.

There is actually a technical reason that leads to a dysfunction and a feeling of being lost.                          

When something is being copy-pasted, it's solely the information of the inside and not the references to the outside that has been copied. This creates a redundant code that is not just difficult to service and more prone to bugs. It is also very difficult to augment the functionality of the code. This is why computer experts happen to say Copy and Waste instead of Copy and Paste.

When we participated in ReMap 04 we had that odd feeling ourselves and started to diagnose it. We realized that we where providing the imagery of the upgrading process of Kerameikos-Metaxourgio (KM). The artworks serve as catalysers, transforming the abandoned houses into places of vivid cultural events and soon into exclusive residential buildings1. The artworks are supposed to be the agents of the districts future.

The gif´s of the series “Real Art Estate” consist of copy-pasted images, news material, and self-representations of the involved companies, that have been resampled to create a proximity between different elements that are supposed to be perceived separately. These different elements are relevant factors for a city development that originates in the interest of private companies instead of a public interest.

Vincent Grunwald & Leon Kahane                                                                                                               

Berlin, 2013

“Remap(ping) Athens: The Crisis before the Crisis and the Crisis within the Crisis” by Dimitris Dalakoglou is an relevant article that serves the understanding of investors friendly city development in Athens with a Focus on Remap Athens and it´s inherent policies. The article can be found there:          





Conclusion by Stephan Köhler

I took part at ReMap4, I was curating »Idiopolis«, I stayed in Athens around 2 weeks with a group of artists and friends. While drifting through the district, getting to know the people, understanding the relations in the quarter, my experience was divided into two parts. The first part was the simple being there, being in that situation, feeling good, feeling free in a way, going on with the things that had to be done. Did they had to be done? The second part was the growing complexity of the roles and responsibilities different groups of people were taking throughout this event.

Just to give a first impression a first overview about the complexity, dozens of questions rose up and were partly discussed. If Remap was bad for the people of the district, why a lot of people told me, that they really like the event? They were curious about the new faces heading through the streets, they enjoyed the venues, they appreciated that things moved and they liked to sell their commodities. What is better a quarter as a mix of different income classes or just a poor quarter hosting the red light district? Have all gentrifications finally to end in luxury real estate ghettos? If the Greek State is bankrupt and to powerless to organize a proper development of Athens, should everybody wait until the situation has changed, even if parts of the city sink into poverty? Is there really a proofed causality between making a show in an old abandoned house and sell that house or houses in the neighbourhood? Or are there much more important reasons why houses get sold?  And finally what has more impact on the state of emergency in Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio – making a show, which announces via artistic transformations some actual neoliberal developments, including some aspects of the quarter or just stay at home? Beneath all these questions lies the core: the function of art in society.

How close can anybody come to truth? The only chance to make a decision ­– I realized when I came back to Berlin and speak to a friend – is to look at the situation from a distant and idealistic point of view. You can just ask yourself, how would a city, a Polis, develop a district in the best and most righteous way? The answer is simple, only on the base of common decisions made by all inhabitants. When somebody with a lot of money is taking over policy from city council and tries to form the district he prefers, artists should not support these pretensions. The structure of Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio proves a certain resistances against dynamic gentrification, no matter the consequences of missing money of missing rich inhabitants. But since years the situation is on peak, sensitivities hit each other there every day. That may be the reason why this quarter is fascinating, at least for the cultural scene from abroad.                                                                      

It may be easy to judge from the distance. But on the other hand we were there and we were involved and we will be holding the connection to our Greek friends in the future. In retrospective it is obvious: It was a failure to make that exhibition under these circumstances. But sometimes making mistakes is the better way to understand what´s going on.                                                                                                                          

And most important: it is possible to define the function of art in society by yourself.

Stephan Köhler                                                                                                               






30 June 2017 / by / in
Let me help you surrender

Oporto’s art scene has had a particular importance to KARAT since 2012, when we initiated the artist exchange PORTO/KÖLN (Oporto/Cologne) – THE OCEAN AND THE RIVER. To select the Portuguese participants we spent a few days in the city, interviewing dozens of artists in depth about their work.

In this way, within a very short span of time a picture began to form of an intriguing scene and a new generation of artists who were exceptionally driven and passionate about their work. One of the many things that impressed us, was the confidence and apparent ease with which the artists moved between different media and applications of their ideas. Furthermore, they possessed an idealism and work ethic that wilfully ignored the crumbling economy and the lack of interest by the general public.

In the course of three years a lot has changed. What was essentially an underground phenomenon is now reaching a much bigger and more diverse audience in Oporto. And slowly but surely, galleries are starting to take an interest. This young generation of artists seems to succeed in changing the cultural microclimate of Oporto.


Diana Carvalho

One strand of Diana’s many collecting endeavours involves different kinds of paper, foil, plastic sheets, and thermal blankets. In her studio she studies their surfaces carefully, examines how they can be folded or bend; how they deform into a ripple pattern, when a coat of acrylic paint is applied to them; their absorptive or reflective qualities, as well as the quality of the light that they bounce off onto other surfaces. Slowly, the objects begin to develop an identity.

Something quite inexplicable happens when she strings this vocabulary together and forms sentences out of them in an exhibition space, each time in a different way. As the viewer slows down to take in the interplay of the different objects and their character, a dense atmosphere begins to envelop him or her, like a moment late on a silent, beautiful, and somehow suffocating summer afternoon.

Long chains of repetition and variation of certain motives stretch through Diana’s work and are woven together by her like different storylines. Following these threads reveals the stunning depth which Diana’s practice has achieved over the past years.


Grandes Férias (great vacations) – 2 paintings, prints, paint, plastic and foam boxes, 2013.


Grandes Férias (great vacations) – 2 paintings, prints, paint, plastic and foam boxes, 2013.


'Camuflagens' (camouflages) – paper, mirror, canvas, wood, plastic and postcards, 2013.


Hernâni Reis Baptista

It is Hernâni’s video work in particular, where one of his great strengths becomes very clear. Pieces like “Paz Camaradas”, “Execuçoes”, and “Lá fora” unite widely diverse emotions, atmospheres and attitudes, but there are not ambiguous. They are decidedly two things at once, or three or four. Like a viewer intuitively would make a distinction between the reflection on a piece of glass and the piece of glass itself, in Hernâni’s work different elements lead a parallel existence, reflecting on another but remaining separate. There is not a push in one direction, no attempt to convince the viewer of one view, but rather a state of momentary balance and lucidity in which the complex emotional or philosophical geography of the situation can be appreciated.

There is a fine sense of humour in all of Hernâni’s work an even when he is addressing harsh, violent realities. He is apparently able to make anything appear weightless by the playful and stunningly elegant way he approaches his work, but the problems and questions are not ridiculed, they stay intact.


'Below'. Wood, projection canvases, film projectors, televisions, foam plaques, mirrors, styrofoam plaques, video loop. Site specific, 2012


'Lassie Troops', series (5). Jet Print, 90gr, 92 x 60 cm, 2012


'Outside', video, 5'28'', 4:3, loop; (Mixed sounds from protests in different parts of the world. Protest in London – sound credited to Sound Artist, Tessa Elieff AKA Tattered Kaylor), 2013 


David Ferreira

The process of contamination is of great interest to David. The contamination of our mind and behaviour through media and society, and also the way objects, spaces and atmospheres contaminate each other. He welcomes the influence of contamination and degradation on his work, like the glitches and imperfections in his mesmerising videos, which often remind of minimal electronic music in the way they use repetition and monotony.

David’s work defies categorisation and it is an impossible task to sum it up in a couple of sentences. It is often very raw and intuitive but produced from within a very thought-through and unusual mind-set. This is especially true of his performance work where anger and an absurd humour function within a carefully constructed situation.


Performance at Ebertplatz, Cologne 2012


Performance at Ebertplatz, Cologne 2012



KARAT was founded in 2012 in Cologne and converted 14 derelict light boxes in the outer wall of a multi-storey car park into an art space. However, KARAT has realised projects in other locations as well, including Oporto, Portugal and Amsterdam. KARAT are Yvonne Klasen and Paul Leo.

30 June 2017 / by / in