Harald Fricke

  • Eran Schaerf

    Eran Schaerf’s works function by overlapping different modes of production. Schaerf, who was born in Tel Aviv but lives in Brussels and Berlin, is a media artist in the most literal sense of the word. He is concerned with how situations condensed into an abstract symbolic language offer innumerable associative links to the viewer. The essential act of production lies not in the isolation of images but rather in their linkage, if not the sedimentation of their inherent levels of meaning. How else could the veil be simultaneously cast as cultural artifact, feminist insignia, and military camouflage

  • Daniel Pflumm

    Daniel Pflumm’s field of artistic production is an expansive one. Along with video installations, the artist—who was born in Geneva in 1968 and now lives in Berlin—also works with light boxes and as a club organizer. But Pflumm’s approach is only marginally related to the general crossover today between art and party culture. Elektro, and later Panasonic, two clubs he founded (and operated illegally) in the Mitte section of Berlin, experimented with dry minimalist techno, contrary to the capital’s taste for pop-compatible events like the Love Parade or the Berlin Biennale. Between 1992 and 1997,

  • Jesko Fezer and Axel John Wieder

    Exhibitions in Berlin these days like to flirt with urban planning and architecture, and a kind of neo-Situationism has emerged from this, which at its worst has led to service-and-spectacle events like the Berlin Biennale. On the other hand, the 1998 show “Baustop.randstadt,-” (at Berlin’s Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst) made clear how far the critical potential of action alliances and leftist groupings has come from what has been called “new genre public art,” art in public spaces intended as a means of effecting social change. Today, it’s not only about instituting an artistic model as

  • Hans Hemmert

    Rubber has remained largely undiscovered as a medium in contemporary art. When it has been employed, it has been associated with the fetishization of the body. Artists like Kiki Smith and Marc Quinn have used the material rather conventionally to make body casts, exploring issues of health, loss of aura, and the transience of the individual. Berlin-based artist Hans Hemmert works with rubber much more playfully, without, however, renouncing the space of reflection the medium potentially affords. While Hemmert, too, emphasizes the material’s fetishistic quality, his approach achieves more distance

  • “The Twentieth Century— A Century of Art in Germany”

    The most extensive exhibition of German art at the end of the century recalls the similarly mammoth venture in 1906, when the entire Nationalgalerie was emptied to show a survey of German art from 1775 through 1875 . For the twentieth century, one needs four such buildings to present the full spectrum, ranging from Franz Marc to Sigmar Polke. To ensure that the spectacle isn’t lost in its own boundlessness, the show is arranged thematically, under rubrics like “The Violence of Art,” “Matter and Spirit,” and “Collage–Montage,” which treats film as the presiding medium of the moderns.

    Translated

  • Neo Rauch

    As part of the first generation since reunification, the Leipzig painter Neo Rauch (born in 1960) has taken up the challenge of the tensions inherent in contemporary German painting. In his work, citations of Pop art and abstract painting meet with elements of Neue Sachlichkeit and classical figuration. The result is a Chinese box filled with samples of many of the artistic trends of this century. But Rauch's constructions, rather than seeming labored, come across as humorous and refined.

    His recent works heavily reference the working world, in the guise of machine shops, gas stations, offices,

  • The Berlin Biennale

    The inaugural installment of the Berlin Biennale, which opened on September 28, took place under a lucky star: One day earlier, Helmut Kohl was voted out of office. Under the new governing coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, many of Berlin’s cultural producers came together and, after sixteen years of Christian Democratic governments, transformed Germany’s lumbering vision of itself. There was much talk about a future “Republic of Berlin,” complete with a national minister of culture; the SPD candidate for the job, Michael Naumann (who has since been confirmed), could be seen

  • Simone Mangos

    Traces of nature penetrate urban space in the work of Simone Mangos. (Born in Australia, she has lived in Berlin for the last ten years.) For her 1992 installation NOMADIC, Mangos arranged a half-circle of mostly broken windows in such a way that the day’s progress could be charted according to the position of the reflected sun. In her recent exhibition “ice floe,” her photographs—whether of a dock in Sydney or of a free-standing fire wall—recall the urban excursions of Allan Sekula or Gordon Matta-Clark. In stasis, 1994, white netting was drawn taut to a chair and then fanned out,

  • Maike Abetz and Oliver Drescher

    Gallery shows that draw parallels between music and visual art can be difficult to take, because one of the two generally seems to suffer. Pop music, for example, is much more dependent on context than artists who use it as a reference often seem to suggest. That it can still be productive to make the comparison—however flawed the results—is demonstrated by the work of the Berlin-based artists Maike Abetz and Oliver Drescher.

    For their recent installation Up Against It, the team transformed the gallery into the den of an obsessed music fan. Most of the walls were papered with moire

  • Torsten Haake-Brandt

    In his performances and the objects he creates, the thirty-nine-year-old artist Torsten Haake-Brandt addresses the intersection of art and labor. In his recent exhibition “From 9 to 5” (which at times recalled Joseph Beuys’ investigations into the artist’s place in society), Haake-Brandt exhibited a dozen objects and photographs that he had meticulously masticated, accompanied with the motto “Lazy Bones! Use your free time! Chew up the opposition!” The results he achieved in these works were often quite startling.

    Among the objects presented were a crucifix with an armless figure of Christ; a

  • Adib Fricke

    The artist Adib Fricke addresses the question, “To whom do words belong?” For the past several years Fricke has been pursuing a project called “The Word Company.” His recent show, “Bloody Idioms,” consisted of sentences (each of which could have been lifted straight from a marketing brochure) inscribed on walls painted monochrome colors. One terse communication read “Every Word has Its Day,” and another “In Words We Trust.” A third combined “Be the Slogan” with the declaration “Wordsucker.” All of the sentences appeared in the script-style type “Stone Sans Serif bold italic,” although Fricke

  • the Shift to Mitte

    SINCE LAST NOVEMBER, an American tour operator has been offering special “Berlin Trips” for tourists from the States. For GIs formerly stationed in Berlin there are “Nostalgia Journeys” along the old barracks in Grunewald, past the Brandenburg Gate, across the elegant Unter den Linden Boulevard, and on to Alexanderplatz. Presenting themselves as journeys of reconciliation for vets at the close of the cold war, these tours at once evoke the time before the building of the Wall and document the era of transformation. Some seventy former soldiers signed up for the first tour. Clearly, the “Nostalgia