Eva Scharrer

  • picks October 12, 2004

    “Funky Lessons”

    If you enter the office at BüroFriedrich, the gallery assistant will abruptly stop working, fall to the floor, and explain, in a monotone voice, guest curator Jörg Heiser's exhibition concept. The performance is a work by Tino Sehgal, commissioned for this show, which aims to fight a common misconception of conceptual and politically inspired art—that it has to be dry and didactic—with humor, role-playing, and pop attitude. It starts off with Adrian Piper’s 1983 classic Funk Lessons, showing the artist teaching a mostly white audience how to move rhythmically and sexily to funk and

  • picks October 06, 2004

    Christian Jankowski

    With his latest projects, Christian Jankowski pushes his ongoing symbiotic infiltration of mass media to another level by employing the “dream factory” itself. The show features two new films: 16mm Mystery and Hollywoodschnee (Hollywood Snow), both 2004, each shown in a specially constructed movie-theater setting. The idea for the works derives from the artist’s memory of a Baroque painting in which a picture, carried through the streets by bearers and only seen from behind, causes buildings to collapse through the sheer power of its imagery. Jankowski transplants the mystery of mediated

  • picks August 19, 2004

    Nader Ahriman

    “Plato Explains the Sidereal Eschatology of the Milky Way” is the title of Berlin-based Iranian artist Nader Ahriman’s current show at Klosterfelde. The paintings on view are equally mysterious. Before backdrops of blue skies and abstracted landscapes—stylistically situated somewhere between the early Renaissance and Romanticism—Ahriman arranges mechanical creatures, statuesque figures, and curious props, all interacting enigmatically and sometimes glimpsed through apertures or theatrical prosceniums. For Ahriman, Western philosophy, mythology, art history, and science are elements of

  • picks August 19, 2004

    Jonathan Horowitz

    Jonathan Horowitz's current show at Barbara Weiss reinterprets the term “silent movie,” interweaving four Hollywood films about deaf-mutes and setting them to a sound track provided by a piano whose keyboard seems to be phantasmically operated. The montage juxtaposes scenes from Johnny Belinda (1948), The Story of Esther Costello (1957), the Helen Keller biopic The Miracle Worker (1962), and the Who's rock opera Tommy (1975). In the chosen excerpts, images of violence and sexual penetration build toward a dramatic climax in which each protagonist experiences a kind of triumphant deliverance from

  • picks August 16, 2004

    Mark Dion

    In “American Politics,” his current show at Christian Nagel, artist-archaeologist Mark Dion doesn't need to dig very deep to get to the bottom. Dion invites visitors to don a conservative costume and pose as the president, the national security adviser, or any other government luminary behind a podium tricked out with microphones and a presidential seal, against the backdrop of a bookcase and an American flag. A mirror built into the podium allows you to primp before being photographed for one of the false presidential portraits that line the wall. A sign above the big felt wallboard that opens

  • picks May 19, 2004

    Norma Jeane

    In the shiny white, clinical setting of her current show “Body Proxy," Norma Jeane presents the physical essences of life and death, transforming them into something resembling sci-fi relics. A small piece of Brie cheese, made from six liters of fresh (human) mother’s milk, maturates in a refrigerator (Potlach 6.1/The Happy Surrender, 2001–2004), while precisely one year’s worth of disposable daily-wear contact lenses have been meticulously preserved in petri dishes (Everyday Sight/Homage to Aldous Huxley, 2003–2004). Jewelry made from orbs of hand-blown Pyrex filled with sulfuric acid serves

  • picks May 04, 2004

    Laura Bruce

    Berlin-based American artist Laura Bruce has a passionate affection for the weird—and wonderful—facets of mundane experience. In the ten-minute video monologue New Day, 2003, the artist’s alter ego, filmed in extreme close-up and strangely transformed by a brunet wig, minutely plans an ordinary day from the time she gets up to the moment she goes to bed. Turbo Nirvana, 2003, trades in the notion that repetitive, banal actions can be a conduit to spiritual revelation and pushes even further than New Day into the realm of the absurd: Courtesy of an endless video loop, we follow Bruce’s

  • picks April 29, 2004

    Andreas Slominski

    Visitors to Andreas Slominski’s current exhibition may be left with the feeling that they’ve missed out on the most interesting part of the show. The front door of the gallery is locked; entering through the back, you find yourself in the office, where a few colorful candies and their empty wrappers are scattered on the floor. More of these bonbons have made their way into the (otherwise empty) main gallery, but access to that space is barred by a nightclub-style rope. This causes a triple-layered feeling of dissatisfaction: first, a childish longing for the goodies (simply because they are out

  • picks March 30, 2004

    Johannes Wohnseifer

    Even though the letters “DB” have been removed, the red rectangle above the entrance of Erlenstrasse 15 still retains the recognizable color and shape of the Deutsche Bahn logo. Johannes Wohnseifer uses the German railway corporation’s leftover signage as a point of departure in a show that weaves specifically “German” topics into a multireferential matrix of association and causality. The title “Enklave/Exklave” refers to the peculiar situation of the former Deutsche Bahn building—built on German soil but subject to Swiss law—and, indeed, to the multinational peculiarities of Basel

  • picks March 22, 2004

    Hanspeter Hofmann

    You can almost hear them fizz: The neon and metallic colors on Hanspeter Hofmann’s giant canvases fuse like chemical compounds, creating oscillating streaks, loops, and bubbles. Hofmann’s background in chemistry has been frequently noted, and parallels to scientific practices are obvious in his work. His amoebic formations look like enlarged views of microscopic vistas, and his process itself recalls that of a scientist: In the search for new images, he experiments on his own oeuvre, zooming in on tiny details of previous works and blowing them up to XXL proportions. In his recent paintings,

  • picks March 17, 2004

    Jonas Dahlberg

    With “Invisible Cities”—an ongoing series of photographic studies for a forthcoming film of the same name—Jonas Dahlberg continues his experiments with scale, spatiality, cinematic experience, and passive versus active surveillance. The nocturnal scenes depicted in the photographs Location Shots 001–008, 2003, have an eerie atmosphere, like that of his film One Way Street, 2002, which premiered at Manifesta 4. There, the camera silently glides down a seemingly endless empty street lined with ghostly modernist houses. (In fact it's a loop, shot in an architectural model.) Here the

  • picks March 02, 2004

    Jan Christensen

    Jan Christensen's recent work combines the sketchiness of notebook scribbles with the decorative monumentality of mural painting. His current exhibition consists of a single wall painting composed of textual fragments; its Kippenberger-esque moniker Some Titles for Which I Don't Know What to Make alludes to imaginary, yet-to-be realized works. Like Lawrence Weiner's wall texts, the “titles” could be read as instructions for pieces to be completed in the viewer's head. But the laconic, self-referential phrases (such as THIS IS NOT THE WORST I’VE LOOKED, IT’S JUST THE MOST I’VE EVER CARED) recall

  • picks February 18, 2004

    “I Wanna Be a Popstar”

    This all-Canadian group show plays on the dubious cultural status quo represented by the contemporary pop star. All the works are videos or films that mimic MTV’s standard fare in an intentionally amateurish style. In Long Beach Led Zep, 2002, Kevin Schmidt poses with a Stratocaster in front of a dramatic sunset, while Benny Namarowsky Ramsey, addressing a different cliché, digitally clones himself to form a one-man boy band. David Armstrong Six plays a white rapper, throwing angry lyrics at us while driving through Toronto's suburbs, and Rodney Graham inhabits the persona of his alter ego—a

  • picks February 06, 2004

    “World Watchers”

    “World Watchers”—named after Mae Brussell's “alternate news” radio show of the '70s and '80s—digs into society’s hidden networks, examining artistic strategies that correlate conspiracy theory and individual practice. Öyvind Fahlström's World Map, 1972, colorfully illustrates US imperialist politics and cash flow in crammed comic-strip scenarios that have lost none of their relevance. More abstract but no less frightening, Mark Lombardi's “narrative structures” similarly visualize global capitalism’s dubious transaction streams. At first sight seductively beautiful, resembling cobwebs or

  • picks January 08, 2004

    Christine Rebet

    Christine Rebet's delicate watercolors and drawings introduce us to a strange but strangely familiar world populated by bizarre little creatures that fall somewhere between Tolkien’s hobbits and Beavis and Butt-Head. Rebet has a background in choreography and stage design, and her small sheets of paper, tacked to the walls in loosely associative groupings, resemble storyboards. But as in dreams, plots abruptly shift from one drawing to the next, and we are given only hints of what may be a larger, hidden logic. In the beautifully animated short film Soul Hunter, 2003, enigmatic motifs like coffee

  • picks December 02, 2003

    Bjørn Melhus

    Though Bjørn Melhus's installation Still Men Out There, 2003, is missing something of a trademark—i.e., Melhus himself, in manifold guises—it contains most other characteristics of his work: an excessive, subversive exploitation of the conventions of TV, film, and fairy tales; repetition and multiplying effects; and those uncanny voices from beyond. This new, more abstract effort pushes the hammering impact of Melhus’s art to a visceral level. Eighteen monitors are placed on the floor, in three concentric circles, screens facing up. Monochrome color fields alternate rhythmically on

  • picks December 02, 2003

    Susan Hiller

    Susan Hiller’s first solo show in Berlin, “Learning to Love Germany,” is a discourse on paradox. A series of large photographs (all works 2003) portray peaceful lanes in the German countryside which lose their innocence once the road signs come into focus. The name on each begins with the prefix “Juden-”—laconic but disquieting reminders of a manifest absence. The German dilemma of forgetting versus remembering is also apparent in several displays of postwar ceramics from the GDR and West Germany. Hiller has organized them by formal qualities like color, but their design indicates that they

  • picks September 30, 2003

    Klaus Lutz

    A shoe box–size apartment in New York's East Village can be both a hermit’s cave and an entire universe; and in his microcosmic retreat, sixty-three-year-old Swiss artist Klaus Lutz both lives and creates his art. His work is a unique mixture of film, drawing, and performance—or “performance with film,” as Lutz puts it, in which he is director, stage designer, cameraman, and lonesome protagonist. In his current show, “The Caveman,” two 16 mm films are projected onto a pair of large balloons. We see the artist’s tiny self marching, floating, and coming to grief like Chaplin in the clockwork

  • picks September 24, 2003

    “Backjumps: The Live Issue”

    The graffiti-covered hallways of the Künstlerhaus Bethanien—where many artists have participated, uninvited, in “Backjumps”—illustrate critical issues brought up by this multivenue undertaking: the claiming of public space, and the sense, or non-sense, of the institutionalization of “street art.” Instead of merely dragging graffiti into the museum, the show, which was conceived as a “live” extension of Backjumps magazine, postulates the city as gallery. It offers a hybrid array of contemporary artistic practices, in- and outdoors, that reach beyond spray-can “writing.” Over forty local

  • picks September 16, 2003

    Michael Sailstorfer

    Welttour” (World Tour), Michael Sailstorfer's second exhibition at Galerie Markus Richter, contains a bus, a set of drums, and a model solar system in which two disco balls reflect a spotlight “sun.” The drums are made out of a police car, continuing the series of metamorphoses that define Sailstorfer's work. Many of his sculptural interventions have taken the form of secret acts of de- and reconstruction in the Bavarian countryside: A dismantled camper van was transformed into a house; a cottage consumed itself, piece by piece, in its own oven; and a light aircraft went crashing into a tree,