Lucky last from the Berlinische Galerie, which I’ve only been to once before shortly after I arrived in Berlin and remembering not liking but felt like I ought to cos it was getting hyped, but here I am a lifetime on and nah still don’t like it. Abstract Expressionism though, I do have a soft spot for my eyes and brain getting fucked on these visuals.
Still at the Berlinische Galerie. Obviously I liked this one. Totalled Deutsch hoonage? Easier fix than changing the timing chain. Sometimes I wonder if I’m emotionally swayed by art which is actually superficial at best and kind of white neoliberal corporate in its heart. I dunno. Would I watch 10 minutes of this Benz doing a Nürburgring lap? Duh! Simple pleasures.
Primarily I went there to see this painting. Me and eyebleed colour, eh. And at the end of a couple of hours, it was still my fave painting. The colours are kinda off in my photo though cos I still have no idea how to do colour-balancing.
First time ever being inside the Neue Nationalgalerie, and with Alison Currie who’s blasting through Berlin / Germland / the north-west Asian peninsula (aka Europe) on a dance / art trip.
One of the last artworks we saw, and the last painting I photographed before we schlepped around the gift shop. It’s supposed to be three chicks perving at a naked dude, but I think it’s three trans women showing off what the fourth could have if she just got on hormones and embraced her femme.
Me, trying to remember what I was looking at in the Neue Nationalgalerie, having forgot every artist’s name, but still, “Oh, yeah, that one, that’s one of my faves,” pointing at Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Potsdamer Platz and Rheinbrücke paintings which I’ve seen heaps of times and still very much faves, or Max Beckmann, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Max Pechstein, Emil Nolde, Wassily Kandinsky … seeing all those artists in context with each other (though minus the ladies, cos … ‘reasons’) and in context geographically and historically is a trip.
Last time I blogged Otto Mueller was when I visited Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig way back in 2016, and when I used to photograph massive amounts of art and edit the fuck out of it all. Which, like everything I get enthusiastic about, became stressy and slightly too intense, whole weeks gone on doing fifty or sixty images per museum, and then a pandemic happened and I’ve been to maybe two or three exhibitions since the start of 2020.
First time ever being inside the very modern architecture, very Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Neue Nationalgalerie, and dragging Alison Currie along, whom I haven’t seen for … fucking years. We were quite loud sozbruh. Me with my still new FujiFilm X-T4 using it for one of the reasons I bought it: photographing aaart. Sascha Wiederhold, very intense, big, detailed paintings.
I went to see the Gemäldegalerie’s Spätgotik exhibition yesterday. First time going to an exhib in over a year, first time voluntarily inside a venue with other people in a over a year, first blah etc. First hanging out with someone new in physical space in a heap of time also.
And it’s medieval art and we were checking out Master of the Housebook’s Last Supper and I was all “Northern Germanic Gothic is the shit.” And she was all “lol blowjob.”
Pretty sure that’s not what Staatliche Museen zu Berlin gave me a press pass to come up with.
Last Thursday at the press conference for Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s new exhibition in the Alte Nationalgalerie, Fighting for Visibility – Women Artists in the Nationalgalerie before 1919. Best thing: free entry and waved through with my fancy ‘Presse’ sticker on my left boob, also leisurely photographing of Art. Not so good thing: real journalists have a ‘Press’ card — like everything in Germany, authenticity through official validation — I have a blog. Much hilarity ensured trying to get to the press table. Not great at all: an exhibition on women artists, and the panel was two men who talked for almost half an hour before letting the sole woman, who was the curator, have a word. She reclaimed her time, was heaps more relevant, and let’s pretend I didn’t notice the menz not paying attention to her.
It’s been a while since I went to a museum. I got burnt out on editing too many images, and from July last year was working 60+ hours a week (which, had I not been getting paid 70% of what men do, could have worked 42 hours for the same euros — actually I was getting paid even less, keeping the narrative simple here), and been in slow time recovery since June, so … art. It’s a thing I remember.
I have a lot of issues with this exhibition. I want to be all cheerleading from the sidelines, buuut … problems. Problems I think are structural in the museum and SMB and Germany, which, had I seen this same exhibition in London or Melbourne or New York, would have been twenty or thirty years ago in its current context and appearance, or a contemporary version that had built on three decades of representation that Germany’s national museums have yet to have. As it was, it felt hella anachronistic and patronisingly “something for the ladies also #MeToo”.
None of that is a criticism of curator Yvette Deseyve, however. What is a criticism though (which may or may not have been covered in the catalogue, but bitch here is poor and isn’t throwing around 30€ right now) is structural intersections of gender, femininity, heteronormativity, class, whiteness, racism, colonialism, imperialism, which were well in play by the time even the youngest artists were born, and shaped all of them across the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s a missed opportunity, and one I continually question whether white, heteronormative feminism is ever going to recognise. This really struck me with the replacement of one of my favourite works in the museum, Osman Hamdi Bey’s Der Wunderbrunnen (Ab-ı Hayat Çeşmesi) with Paula Modersohn-Becker’s Kniende Mutter mit Kind an der Brust. Choosing a painting of a naked white woman nursing a baby as the figurehead of the exhibition in the entrance hall, without critically engaging (again, outside of whatever is in the catalogue) with Germany’s history of motherhood, family, race, and religion reads as a tacit condoning or passive acceptance of this cultural history, as well as one of those, ‘this wouldn’t have happened if there was real, working diversity in the room’ type situations. And seeing how many young women were working around the exhibition … yeah, awkward.
Go and see it? If it’s included in the ticket price for the whole Alte Nationalgalerie, then yeah but don’t expect to be blown away. But if you gotta pay extra to see women artists who should be hanging in the permanent collection since — at the latest — the early ’90s, when the previous two decades’ demands for representation had filtered into these big, old, slow institutions and there was no valid excuse for them not being there besides entrenched misogyny? Fuck that noise. Let’s have 100 years of only women artists in the SMB museums and 100 years of men getting paid 30% of what women get. Also let’s have a conversation about what ‘woman’ denotes in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and now.
When I was in Krakow a few winters ago, I went to Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie and was slapped for pointing a camera at the paintings in the Olga Boznańska exhibition. I was thinking of that when I walked through this one, and the previous large one I saw in the same place, which took up the whole floor instead of what felt like a few side rooms and one main room, Alte Nationalgalerie: Impressionismus – Expressionismus. Kunstwende. The Olga Boznańska exhibition took up about the same space as Impressionismus – Expressionismus. For one woman.
Anyway, art. Art I liked (and some I didn’t but here we are), art I could photograph, art it transpired I’d photographed adequately enough to be able to edit into something passable.
Das Helmi on tour, all the way out east to Lichtenberg, in the shallow parabola of northern Rummelsberg right by S-Nöldnerplatz, where the rails form a curved triangle around the old railway workshops backing onto the roundhouse and railway turntable to the east, now typically Berlin ateliers and halfway to forest of the B.L.O. Ateliers.
Festival time. Wagner festival time. Berlin is not Bayreuth. Vol. 1. Six hours of Tannhäuser spread across at least four stages, meandering through the dishevelled brick and concrete buildings and fastigiate black poplars charging thirty metres into the dark, cloudless evening sky. Peter Frost wrecking it singing dodgy Schlagermusik, Cora Frost doing the same as a Pope to ruin The Young Pope. glanz&krawell (I think) working their way through the long shouty bits with proper opera singing. Das Helmi with their always always glorious, monstrous, chaotic stagings, scaring off people who though it was going to be, y’know, opera, culture and shit, instead of what the fuck is happening here, how did I find myself on stage slapping a stranger’s arse with twelve other people doing the same I should’a left when the Pope started kissing people’s feet kinda thing.
Mad thanks to Dasniya Sommer for getting me in, reminding me of a Berlin I utterly love, deeply pagan and animist, rough as guts and no intention of ever changing.
Last one. Spiky, translucent mathematical shapes and voids.