James Turrell’s “Aural” at The Jewish Museum Berlin

April 24, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is something special, to experience a light installation of James Turrell live and in color. Since April 12th, the Jewish Museum is showing the installation “Aural” – an original from 2004. The artwork will be exhibited till September 30th of 2019.

It was Dieter and Si Rosenkranz, an art collector couple, who made the gift of this artwork to the museum. “Aural” has never been shown in this way and is currently to be seen in a temporary building in the museum’s garden during the stated period of time.

The time that „Aural“ was exposed in Valencia, one could only see it bathed in the color blue. For the exposition in the Jewish Museum, James Turrell amplified the walk-in installation with new colors, where you can now experience one of his “Ganzfeld Pieces”[1](“a German word to describe the phenomenon of the total loss of depth perception as in the experience of a white-out”) with 13.000 single LEDs on over 200m² for the first time in Berlin.

[1]http://jamesturrell.com/work/type/ganzfeld/

During the press conference, program director Léontine Meijer-van Mensch gets to the heart of it: “You need to take your time for Turrell.”

At first, the eyes need to get used to the change of color and the dematerialized state of this room with no dimensions and contours. Essentially, this artwork offers the possibility of seeing the museum as a “place of deceleration”. Nowadays the idea of decelerating can become part

Considering the meaning of the “Aural” for the museum, Peter Schäfer, director of the Jewish Museum straightens out: “As any good artist, Turrell does not dictate how to interpret his work.”

In Judaism, the symbolism of light has a high significance: It stands for the presence of God and goes way back to the creative act. In the wilderness sanctuary, before the construction of the Jerusalem temple, there was always a burning light. Still today, there is always the burning “eternal flame” (Hebrew: ner tamid) in the synagogue beside the Torah Shrine.

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Photos: Key visual portrait James Turrell, photo Grant Delin

Photos 2,4,5: James Turrell, Ganzfeld Aural, 2018; © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo Florian Holzherr

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James Turrell was born in 1943 in Los Angeles. As one of the most important contemporary artists, he dedicates all his work since over fifty years to the medium light. What matters most to Turrell in the examination of light, is the human perception of light. He aims to free the perception from any kind of associative and symbolic thinking.

In the end, what Turrell achieves with his “Perceptual Art”, as he himself describes it, is, that the perception itself becomes observed: “Seeing yourself see” is how James Turrell describes the experience of his Ganzfeld-installations. The “Aural” enables taking a look at the inside, as well as self-reflection and an almost trance-like state of observance.

Besides, Schäfer also refers to the kabbalah, Jewish mysticism.  Here, God is understood as an unrecognizable force at first – without beginning nor ending – who, initially appearing as a dark, colorless flame, becomes tangible and visible in the form of all the colors there are.

For those, who would like to see another although smaller Ganzfeld of James Turrell: You can do this at Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden from June 9th till October 28th of 2018.

Interview with Berlin Fashion Designer Isabel Vollrath

April 12, 2018

Isabel Vollrath is a German fashion designer, working in the fields of modern Couture and fine art. She was born in 1980 in Freiburg and started her career by learning the craft of gentlemen’s tailoring in Baden-Baden. Afterwards she studied fashion at the renowned art university in Berlin-Weissensee. For Isabel Vollrath, garments are three-dimensional drawings, collages, objects of “sculpture”, sociocritical / political statements and/or “cultural travel reports”. Choosing extraordinary materials and details of high quality while working in an area of tension between fashion and art, the Berlin fashion designer leaves traces with a high recognition factor. By means of integrating both historicizing and avant-garde, sculptural-futuristic stylistic elements, high-contrast, abstract but at the same time figure-hugging cuttings, the resulting silhouettes are expressive and extensive, functioning as in-the- room-lying “bowls” or rather as integrative to the human moving body.

Isabel Vollrath has already received various national and international awards, amongst them the promotion prize of the Wilhelm-Lorch-Foundation, the Elsa-Neumann-scholarship from the state of Berlin, the Baltic Fashion Award (2011) and the award of the “International Talent Support” in Trieste/Italy (2012). 2015 she founded her label I’ VR ISABEL VOLLRATH. Ever since, she shows her collections twice a year during Berlin Fashion Week or in the context of Berlin Salon / Vogue Salon at Kronprinzenpalais. Miriam Bers met the Berlin fashion designer for an interview.

MB: How does the day of a Berlin fashion designer start?

IV: Contrast showers, coffee. Afterwards I jump on my bike and go to early yoga or ballet class. After that, I go to my atelier…

MB: Why a sculptural design-language?

IV: When I finished high school, I actually wanted to study free arts and become a sculptor. At the same time, there was this passion for fashion and the craft of tailoring. So I decided to study tailoring in Gerhard Schmauder’s custom tailor for men in Baden-Baden for three years. This is where I learned how to develop a “second skin” for men out of fabric.

Basically, this was also a kind of “sculpting” and an essential fundament for my following studies in fashion. I guess, in Berlin I am one of the few designers that still fabricate their whole sample collection on their own. For this, I combine my sculptor activities with the technical know-how of tailoring and a very high demand on precision, I observe with the eyes of an artist and still have the necessary sense of functionality in the back of my mind.

 

MB: Which exposition did you see last?

IV: Actually, I attend openings very often.

That’s why now I’m trying to remember, which expositions really fascinated me during the last months… It’s been a while, but spontaneously I recall “Jonas Burgert: Zeitlaich” at Blainsouthern and „Cornelia Schleime: Full House” at Michael Schultz and obviously also the Biennale in Venice last year. I’m very excited about Gallery Weekend that will be taking place soon.

MB: Which writers inspire you?

IV: Old masters as Goethe.

MB: What is you favorite place in Berlin?

IV: Close to the water and in the country. Or a terrace with a wide view over Berlin’s rooftops or a nice wine bar around the corner. ONE favorite place actually doesn’t exist…

MB: Your place of longing?

IV: Italy. Venice. The sea.

MB: How does the day of a Berlin fashion designer end? By cooking on your own or going out to have dinner?

During the work process, I focus on the message, the statement, a story, an emotion and less on the aim of addressing the consumers of the mass market. The majority of my collection pieces could also be hung on a wall as an art object or be placed inside of a picture frame, instead of being hung in a closet. They function as both: body- and room objects. My collections will always stay limited edition. Only that way, I can stay true to myself and do fashion as well as art. Before I think of elegance, I “romp”: In experiments, in forms, playing with material and cuts – with the curiosity of a child and the “flow” of my hands.

MB: Your oeuvre, summarized in three phrases:

IV: I’d prefer three words: Idiosyncratic. Authentic. Uncompromising.

MB: Which designers inspire you?

IV: There are designers/brands of the past and present, who I really adore and whose life’s work and creations I appreciate a lot. For example those of Coco Chanel, Vivienne Westwood, Rei Kawakubo or Iris van Herpen and Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen or Hussein Chalayan. I like a strong visual expression, the courage to use extraordinary forms, colors, materials and an individual signature with a recognition value.

IV: Extensive cooking – that is rather something I do, when I receive visitors. When I’m alone, I have a salad and a glass of white wine. Or I make plans to have a drink somewhere.

MB: Any idea for a recipe?

IV: For visitors, I always like to serve “antipasto misto”…-colorful vegetables like zucchini, fennel, pumpkin, pepper, rosemary potatoes from the oven – with goat cream and olive oil. This comes with a side salad: radicchio, chicory, lamb’s lettuce – with tomatoes, cucumber, toasted sesame and pomegranate. If desired: wild salmon with a lemon-honey-sauce and wild rice in coconut milk.

MB: When and where can one see your next collection?

IV: The fashion week for spring/summer 2019 starts at the beginning of July. The exact dates of my fashion shows are not definite yet, but they’re being planned and will be announced soon in the calendar of Berlin Fashion Week or  Berlin Salon.

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Photos: Key visual Det Nissen

1/3  Thomas Thernes, 4 Katy Otto, 2 Philipp Wolfart

 

 

Sigrid Neubert – Modern Architecture in Photography

March 28, 2018

Sigrid Neubert (*1927) is one of Germany’s most renowned architectural photographers. In the past six decades, she has produced aesthetic images of modern buildings and urban landscapes. Later, Neubert was also interested in nature photography while creating poetic, partly mystical imagery. A selection of works by Sigrid Neubert is currently on display in the Museum für Fotografie (Museum of Photography) of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin . The exhibition runs until June 3rd, 2018.

Miriam Bers talked to the two curators of the exhibition – the head of the photography collection of the Kunstbibliothek (Art Library) Dr. Ludger Derenthal, and the architect and art historian Dr. Frank Seehausen.

MB: Mr. Derenthal, according to which criteria do you create your program?

LD: In the Museum of Photography we present the whole history of this important visual medium from its beginning in the middle of the 19th century to the present day, often in thematic exhibitions and with works from our collection.

MB: How did the current cooperation with you and Frank Seehausen come about?

LD: We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to compile a representative selection from the comprehensive archive of Sigrid Neubert and incorporate the works into our collection. Therefore it was our aspiration to create an exhibition that involves her complete oeuvre – landscape and architectural photography. We curated the exhibition together: I was responsible for the nature part and Frank Seehausen, who also wrote the book about Sigrid Neubert’s architectural photography that will soon be published by Hirmer, took care of the architecture section.

MB: Architectural photography can be very elaborate. Which techniques did Sigrid Neubert apply? Did she work in a team?

FS: Neubert mostly worked on her own utilizing only a few facilities. For more than 30 years, she used a field camera and preferred to shoot in black and white on 9×12 glass negatives until the 1970s. This generated particularly high-contrast images in perfect technical quality. However, these harsh contrasts – that were characteristics of her work – were not only stylistic device but should also compensate the poor print quality of many architecture magazines. For Neubert it was important to enter an intensive dialogue with the buildings, which in a sense, she regarded as the representative of the architect’s personality.

Photos: © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek / Sigrid Neubert

Exhibition Info

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MB: The current exhibition with works by Sigrid Neubert summarized in four keywords?

FS: The architectural photography is presented in four thematic chapters as the core of Neubert’s lifework with manifold references to her free work. We aim to encourage visitors to search for points of view, motives, similarities and differences. Archival material and, above all, architectural drawings make the dialogue between the photographer and the architects comprehensible.

LD: Talking about the landscape photography, two aspects are important to me: Sigrid Neubert has used photography both as a medium of expressing emotions as well as a medium for the development of a unique design vocabulary which together form a very instructive contrast.

MB: What do you think about the relationship between Sigrid Neubert’s architectural photography and the New Vision (Neues Sehen)? The press release also refers to 1950s American photography…

FS: In her architectural photography, Neubert has increasingly distanced herself from the US influences of the 1950s and gradually developed her own formal and content-related approach by carefully working out not only the plasticity of the buildings, but also the interaction of the buildings with the environment and its residents. In comparison, we also show works by Julius Shulman, who influenced Neubert in the 1950s.

MB: The current exhibition also includes landscape photography – atmospheric interpretations of the same – that the artist has focused on over the last few decades. How do you explain her dedication to nature?

LD: After many years of producing commission works for architects and magazines, Sigrid Neubert has created her own field of artistic impact. She has always worked in thematic categories, working on some topics for decades. This shows how intensively she has thought about the medium of photography and its possibilities.

MB: Last but not least a question to you, as the two curators of the exhibition: What kind of photography can be found in your living room?

LD: A lightbox with a black-and-white photograph of Reiner Leist showing the skyline of New York.

FS: An architectural photograph by Franz Lazi from Stuttgart produced in 1950.

Less is more – New York’s Armory Show 2018

March 15, 2018

2018 Armory Show presented itself with a clear layout and less galleries than within the last years and was therefore very pleasant to visit. Up from the welcoming and uncomplicated New Yorker handling of invitations for the specialist audience and collectors who arrived from all over the world, the whole setting of the fair was extremely well organized. The layout of the booths with in between enough space for sculptural works, a great light design, bright carpeting and centrally located bars and lounges were not only photogenic but made the visitor feel very comfortable.

Armory is – like Frieze and Art Basel – one of the most important sales fairs and does not claim an overall overview of all contemporary art trends. On the contrary it communicates an idea of the sophisticated “must haves” of the new season. Lots of excellent art works from the 50s to the 70s such as small Gerhard Richter pieces (each over 600.000 Dollars), Cy Twombly’s, a huge Nam Jun Paik installation at Gagosian and beautiful David Hockney’s made modern art collectors’ hearts beat faster.

However the curated parts such as Focus and Platform/The Contingent also exhibited relevant contemporary art pieces against a political background. Very spectacular was the mural of the well-known French urban artist JR – a huge photo work presented by the Armory Show, Artsy and Deitch Projects- So Close mounted at the Armory buildings’ façade facing Ellis Island – which 12 million immigrants and refugees had passed between 1892 and 1954. It shows a vision of immigrants in a line, created with templates of old photographic Archive material of The Ellis Island Museum of Immigration and recently by JR taken pictures of Syrian refugee camps.

Some of the curated booth designs we liked were the ones of Wetterling (Stockholm, among others showing works of Jim Dine, photo left), Marianne Boesky Gallery (New York, with works of Hannah van Bart and Hans Op de Beek) and Mizuma Art Gallery (Tokyo, showing works by Japanese – Australian duo Ken + Julia Yonetani photo above).

Another eye-catching position was Cry Havoc by young South African artist Mary Sibande (gallery MOMO from Johannesburg and Cape Town, photo left) addressing women’s power boiling over. Last but not least and a discovery at least from a European point of view in the Focus section were the notable powerful collages, textiles and prints of the 1938 in the U.S. born Afro-American artist Emma Amos (at Ryan Lee Gallery, New York), working on gender, racial and geographical perspectives.

 

Art Consulting

J.R. photo: Teddy Wolff, courtesy of The Armory Show

Other photos: courtesy of GoArt! Berlin

Berlin Food Festival: Interview with eat! berlin founder Bernhard Moser

February 27, 2018

In 2018 the Berlin food festival eat! berlin takes place for the seventh time. The annually edition is one of the culinary highlights of the capital involving 50 events with more than 60 chefs in the best restaurants adding up to 30 Michelin stars and 496 points in Gault&Millau. The luxury travel and lifestyle magazine Travelers’ World has honored the 2016 festival as one of the best 10 food festivals in the world. Tasty collaborations such as the Tipi at the Chancellery or Frau Luna and renowned chefs like Tim Raue or Sebastian Frank are among the highlights of eat! Berlin. Miriam Bers talked to the founder of the Berlin food festival, Bernhard Moser.

MB: What was your motivation to launch the Berlin food festival in 2011 and why eating?

BM: I come from a village in Austria. There were only two career options: agriculture or gastronomy. Since we did not have a farm, I became a cook/waiter, then went on to become a certified sommelier. So I gradually discovered the pleasure for me. The motivation to found the festival originates from the fact that I have always seen Berlin as a gourmet metropolis although back then it has often been perceived as a Currywurst stall. To me and many of my friends who are top chefs, this was really annoying. One evening we sat down together – including the owner of the Mattheis advertising agency and a well-known journalist – and came up with the idea of eat! Berlin.

MB: What are the selection criteria for participating in eat! berlin?

BM: I enjoy working with outstanding chefs and restaurateurs. Thereby I am guided by my own experiences at Gault&Millau. Ideally, the restaurant we work with has at least 15 points and stands for something. So no 08/15 restaurant but an outstanding position in the catering industry. Since we work very closely with the people during the festival, the personal relationship is also important – so it’s always good to recognize the egomaniacs in advance.

MB: Can we speak of culinary trends or food fashion?

BM: Yes, but we try to avoid it. Good food and drinks are our trend, but we are not interested in things like “superfood” and similar humbug.

MB: What role does sustainability play for chefs?

BM: For us, sustainability plays a significant role, for the chefs an increasing one. Ideally, the gourmet does not only enjoy, he also takes responsibility for his consumption. Regional food, e-mobility etc. are enormously important to us. In addition, we are the only gourmet festival in the world that is supplied exclusively with tap water.

MB: What are the Berlin food festival highlights this year, what’s new?

BM: Almost everything is new because I am not fund of repetitions. For me the development of the program is of high importance, so I cannot name any highlights. I am a fan of the entire program and look forward to every single event.

MB: How many visitors are you expecting this year and can you say that the Berlin food festival is attracting international audiences?

BM: We will have about 7,000 visitors this year, I don’t have exact numbers since some events are without rsvp such as the “Berliner Käsetage” (Berlin Cheese Days), so we can only estimate the number of visitors. Hence it could also be 9,000. Anyway, when I was there today, it was very busy.

Internationally, we have been receiving a lot of attention, especially since the nomination as one of the 10 best food festivals in the world. That’s good, because only in this way we change the image of our capital. We are not just a party city.

MB: What is your favorite place in Berlin?

BM: I cannot name my favorite gastronomy spot but apart from this my favorite place is on the couch watching cartoons with my daughter.

MB: Your longing place?

BM: I really want to visit Heston Blumenthal’s “The Fat Duck” in 2019.

MB: Do you cook privately?

BM: I am only allowed to cook when we have guests at home. Chefs cook differently, we need too many pots and always make a mess – that causes trouble.

MB: A recipe idea?

BM: Take a waxy boiled organic egg with a blob of sour cream and add Malossol caviar as much as you want. But please use caviar from good farms in your area. I appreciate the Brandenburg caviar from the trout and sturgeon farm Rottstock, operated by Susanne and Matthias Engels. Enjoyment often only needs three components.

Photos: courtesy of eat! Berlin

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