Interview with Masha Alyokhina of Pussy Riot for Huck Magazine
Interview with Yoko Ono on magic, science and poison for the opening of ‘Das Gift’ at Haunch of Venison, Berlin. Exberliner (2010)
Yoko Ono’s solo show opened last month at Haunch of Venison with a polysemous title, Das Gift, and a bullet hole in a shattered glass pane. On one side, a rank of army coats sway darkly from invisible threads. Ono posed behind it, while the paparazzi stood in for the firing squad. A large blank canvas on the wall, slashed by Ono, is equipped with exhibition-sized needles and thread for visitors to sew up the gashes. In the next room, maps invite people to stick traumatic locations with pins. Upstairs, visitors record themselves smiling.
Interview with Stuart Brisley, at the opening of Measurement and Dvision, at Exile Gallery Berlin. Exberliner (2010)
British performance artist Stuart Brisley is having his first German solo exhibition in almost 20 years: four key works, including the ground-digging “Survival in Alien Circumstances” (Documenta VI in 1977), and the body-starving “10 Days”, which was originally performed in Berlin.
Interview with cross-artform Dutch artist Willem De Rooij at the opening of Intolerance at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin. Exberliner (2010)
Berlin-based Dutch artist Willem De Rooij investigates ‘non-referential art’. Hung on a temporary wall in the darkened glass cube of Ludwig Mies Van de Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie are paintings of fighting birds by 18th-century Dutch artist Melchior d’Hondecoeter. Set back further are feathered masks and capes – 19th-century ceremonial objects brought to Europe from Hawaii.
Interview with British punk painter Billy Childish at the opening of his exhibitionThe Soft Ashes of Berlin Snowing on Hans Fallada’s Nose at Neugerriemschneider, Berlin. Exberliner (2010)
With his army of pseudonyms Billy Childish trampled contemporary art stereotypes, and they melted – slowly, but obediently – underfoot. His paintings resemble works by the artists he loved and learned from – Van Gogh, Bacon, Munch. He dropped out of art school, worked as a shipwright, spent years on the dole in Chatham in Kent, and made novels, volumes of poetry, thousands of paintings and hundreds of punk rock records. He co-founded the Stuckists before leaving. He started the Art-Hate and British Art Resistance movements. This year his work enjoyed great success in June at Art Basel – art’s commercial summit – when gallery Neugerriemschneider chose him as its only artist. The Soft Ashes of Berlin falling on the Hans Fallada’s Nose is his first solo show at the Berlin gallery.
Interview with Stephen Kovats, outgoing director Berlin’s radical net-art festival, Trasmediale. Conducted in the year when uprisings spilled across the net and the globe. Exberliner (2011)
Each February, netizens gather in Berlin to plot the digital world as it emerges from the internet. From the Haus der Kulturen der Welt's pregnant oyster, hacktivists rewire the mechanism within, while the tech-art vanguard displays art projects that illuminate the secret chambers within its architecture and activists plot how to take on Web Inc. Transmediale artistic director Stephen Kovats is packing up his laptop following this year's fest after five years at the helm.
Interview with German sculptor Björn Dhalem at the opening of The Theory of Heaven [Die Theorie des Himmels] III - Focus Imaginarius at Guido Baudach Galerie, Berlin. Exberliner (2010)
Informed by science, Dahlem’s work explores its fertile gaps. Die Theorie des Himmels III – Focus Imaginarius pokes fun at Kant and proposes more imaginative solutions: handmade planetaria are assembled from geometrical figures, overlaid with religious icons and pieced together from everyday objects.
Interview with seminal new realist photographer Vera Mercer at the opening of Joie de Vivre and Vanitas, a retrospective at Berlin’s Kommunale Galerie (2010).
Born into a theatre family in Berlin in 1936, Vera Mercer was a trained dancer before she moved on to photography and Paris. She became immersed in the Nouveau Réaliste movement of the 1960s and documented the film stars and avant-garde artists who thrived in the French capital at that time. Mercer then found new inspiration in markets across Asia, where she lived for five years and started taking pictures of food.
Mercer now has a studio and three restaurants in Nebraska. Kommunale Galerie’s retrospective sets her enormous still-life photographs, which mix a Renaissance aesthetic with digital print techniques, in the context of her earlier work.
Interview with Swedish painter Emil Holmer for the opening of his solo show at Galerie Michael Janssen. Exberliner (2010)
Mixing traditional media like charcoal and oils with spray paint, scraps of porn found on the street and South African tabloid headlines, Emil Holmer's Dead Letters paintings are neon horror stories that slot discrete figurative elements into an abstract whole.
As he prepared his first solo show here in his adopted hometown, the Swedish artist describes how Johannesburg inspired paintings he calls “visual machines” and the anonymity of being an artist in Berlin.
Ján Mančuška was born in Czechoslovakia, a country that no longer exists. As the title of his solo show – Everything that really is, but has been forgotten – implies, he’s now trying to resurrect something.
Theater X is a kind of cross-dressing party for forms and media, choreographed by a twisted algorithm. “Cinematography” is presented as a sculpture based on technical drawings; theatre appears as video – actors lose their voices, characters seem to turn into letters and stories become intersecting lines. Why? It’s political, Mančuška explains...
Interview with Mathew Hale at the opening of Wacht Schatz at Wentrup Galerie. Exberliner (2010)
British multimedia artist Mathew Hale came to Berlin before the hype hit – 10 years ago – with his partner, the visual artist Tacita Dean. The centrepiece of Wacht Schatz, Hale's third solo exhibition for Wentrup Gallery, is a slide projection. The images cross-fade from a contemporary newspaper photograph of the recovered corpse of Rosa Luxemburg to a page-three model that appeared on the adjacent page. The slides then move from an oil painting of a young woman (Lilo) in a rowboat to a series of trysts with Courbet-style images of female genitalia. It’s a love affair between “Lilo and Miriam” or “Frau Münze and Frau Münz”, with commentary by Astrid Proll, who drove a getaway car for the Rote Armee Fraktion and is now a photographer. “A coin has two sides,” she says. “Heads. Tails. We pretend not to know each other.”
Interview with Esther Schipper, founder of the Berlin Gallery Weekend, a model that has been copied around the world. One of the first to build Berlin’s gallery scene after the fall of the wall and a member of the selection committee of Art Basel, her eponymous gallery is one of the most influential in the world. Exberliner (2010)
As the Gallery Weekend she helped found enters its seventh year, Esther Schipper leaves Mitte for the ‘no man’s land’ of Schöneberger Ufer. One of the young internationals who arrived in Berlin soon after the fall of the Wall, Schipper opened her first gallery on Auguststraße, taking on artists such as Angela Bulloch, Carsten Höller and Liam Gillick, who later went on to claim international renown. Since then, Auguststraße has become home to the Biennale, and Mitte is now a global hub for contemporary art. Is it the end of an era or a new beginning? For Schipper, it’s all history.