Jennifer Allen

  • picks March 25, 2002

    Vibeke Tandberg

    Vibeke Tandberg

    It’s Vibeke Tandberg month in Berlin. At c/o Atle Gerhardsen, the Oslo-based artist presents “Princess Goes To Bed With A Mountain Bike,” 2001, a series of eight large-scale color photographs that tell a modern tale of customer satisfaction. Tandberg appears in these as a blond princess in a bathrobe who woos and is wooed by her mountain bike until both fall into a deep slumber, evidently under the spell of commodity fetishism. On view at Klosterfelde is “Sunflowers,” 2001, a series of eleven color photographs that tell another story: Here, the artist walks to the edge of a massive sunflower

  • news March 23, 2002

    Francesco Bonami Named Curator of 2003 Venice Biennale

    Francesco Bonami has been selected to curate the 50th Venice Biennale for 2003. The appointment puts an end to growing speculation about the future of the festival, which Italians have dubbed the “Soap-Biennale” on account of the controversial political battle that has erupted over the position.

    Francesco Bonami has been selected to curate the 50th Venice Biennale for 2003. Headed by the newly appointed president, Franco Bernabè, the Biennale’s administrative council met for the first time yesterday in Venice, apparently with a clear sense of what they wanted to do: the decision was taken in only one and a half hours.

    The appointment puts an end to growing speculation about the future of the festival, which Italians have dubbed the “Soap-Biennale” in recent months. It comes in the wake of a controversial attempt by Vittorio Sgarbi, Italy’s outspoken undersecretary for culture, to appoint

  • news March 23, 2002

    Politics in Italy and Austria, Ralph Rumney, and More

    This week, European papers weigh in on developments in the increasingly right-wing cultural politics in Italy and Austria; Ralph Rumney is remembered, and more.

    ITALY’S CULTURAL POLICIES WORRY EUROPEANS: In the past weeks, Italian president Silvio Berlusconi's cultural policies—both at home and abroad—have drawn several critical commentaries in the European press. The Guardian's Rory Carroll, who recently published a stinging report on the fiasco of the Venice film festival and Biennale, reports on Berlusconi's attempt to oust Mario Fortunato, the director of London's Italian Cultural Institute. It appears that Fortunato isn’t the only director of Italian cultural institutes abroad to become a target of Berlusconi’s political assault, according to Neue

  • picks March 21, 2002

    Helen Cho

    Helen Cho

    Helen Cho takes a hygienic approach to aesthetics. The Berlin-based artist has created a series of elegant sculptures from bars of common soap. Using kitchen utensils, Cho cuts, grates, and melts the soap into uncanny shapes that recall human body parts—internal, external, and all the orifices that connect the former to the latter. Her preference for pink and red fleshy tones—both transparent and opaque—only augments the biomorphic character of the pieces, which are set out on low white pedestals like so many exotic organs on an autopsy table. The sculptures easily fuse visual with tactile

  • picks March 20, 2002

    Ling Jian: Asian Fashion/Asian Vibes

    Ling Jian

    Ling Jian has adopted a new approach to Orientalism. The Berlin-based Chinese artist has painted portraits of Germans pulling back the edges of their eyelids with their fingers. Ling wants to transform this racist gesture into a positive one in order to explore and complicate European interest in the Far East, whether economic, spiritual, or cultural. Not surprisingly, the subjects portrayed here include not only friends but also top German political figures such as Dr. Antje Vollmer, vice president of the German parliament. All appear among images of serene, smiling Buddhas, effectively turning

  • picks March 19, 2002

    Tomorrow's Fish & Chips

    “Tomorrow's Fish & Chips”

    AUTOCENTER offers much more than just spare parts. This month, the new exhibition space and program run by artists Joep van Liefland and Maik Schierloh hosts “Tomorrow’s Fish & Chips,” an exceptional show of works on and in paper by ten Berlin-based artists. Olafur Eliasson pursues his passion for Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes with Paper Moon, 2002, a cardboard sphere with movable magnetic pieces. The work takes urban planning to a global scale by allowing spectators to attach aerial shots of surburban sprawl on images of waterfalls on the surface of the sphere. Lucio Auri also plays with

  • news March 08, 2002

    Robert Hughes, the Portikus Galleries, and More

    Will Robert Hughes curate the Venice Biennale? Why does Portikus have to relocate its galleries? And who is on the shortlist for the Berlin Prize?

    VENICE BIENNALE UPDATE: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Dietmar Polaczek checks in with Franco Bernabè, the new president of the Venice Biennale. Bernabè, the former director of Telecom Italia, was appointed by the minister of culture Giuliano Urbani in December as the successor to Paolo Baratta. Since then, undersecretary of culture Vittorio Sgarbi has caused an uproar by calling for Robert Hughes, art critic for Time magazine, to curate the Biennale (Hughes dropped out of the picture after his request for a curator fee of 500,000 Euros was rejected). Bernabè coolly refuses to enter the debate,

  • news March 04, 2002

    Italy's Conservative Culture Don Vittorio Sgarbi in the News

    Vittorio Sgarbi, Italy's neo-conservative undersecretary of culture, denounces the “excremental” art of Jannis Kounellis and proclaims himself a pluralist in Le Monde.

    JANNIS KOUNELLIS’S “EXCREMENTAL ART” REFUSED: Who would have ever thought that Jannis Kounellis would be lumped together with Piero Manzoni and Wim Delvoye, two deans of scatological aesthetics? That is precisely what Vittorio Sgarbi, Italy’s undersecretary of culture, has done, recently calling Kounellis’s exhibition at the Prato “excremental art.” Sgarbi, who is also seeking to have Robert Hughes appointed curator for the next Venice Bienniale, has refused an acquisitions proposal made by Nicola Spinosa, director of the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. Spinosa is seeking to expand the museum’s

  • “A Little Bit of History Repeated”

    THE IDEA SOUNDED PROMISING, if a bit quixotic: Ask an international group of artists from a younger generation to reexamine key performance-art pieces from the golden age of the movement. Curator Jens Hoffmann proposed “A Little Bit of History Repeated” at Kunst-Werke Berlin as part of the center’s ongoing consideration of recent art history, and for two consecutive nights in November, eleven artists revived the past by creating interpretations of classics, lesser-known pieces, and works outside the canon.

    So why the emphasis on performance art? Hasn’t the performance artist, with a few notable

  • news February 25, 2002

    Pompidou in Berlin, the Louvre in Trouble, and More

    Pompidou Center in Berlin, Troubles at the Louvre, Catherine Millet, and More

    BEAUBOURG ON THE SPREE? Berliners could soon be visiting their own Centre Georges Pompidou. President Jean-Jacques Aillagon has announced plans to open a branch of the Parisian center in one of the pavilions at the Charlottenburg palace in Berlin. Staatliche Museen Berlin, the city’s museum oversight office, however, has yet to comment publicly or make a financial commitment. It's currently still seeking ways to pay for the ongoing renovation of the Museumsinsel (the island in central Berlin where several important museums are located). The future Centre Pompidou Berlin, if indeed it ever opens,

  • picks February 22, 2002

    Florian Merkel

    Florian Merkel's Berlin Tourists

    Who’s the hero of the leisure class? For Florian Merkel, it’s the tourist. In a series of large hand-painted photographs of tourist sites in Berlin, he populates these iconic landscapes with sharply dressed individuals executing what appear to be contemporary dance moves. In Vorwärts (Forward), 2001, two men—fake tourists—perform a back flip in front of the Reichstag, a few steps away from some real tourists in anoraks. The dancing tourists may cut preposterous figures, but their exaggerated, theatricalized gestures highlight the banality of the well-worn and now unquestioned rituals of tourism:

  • news February 18, 2002

    Douglas Gordon, Beat Streuli, Wim Delvoye, and More

    This week finds Douglas Gordon, Beat Streuli, Wim Delvoye, Taysir Batniji, the collection of David Sylvester, and Marc Quinn in the European press. Jennifer Allen takes us on a guided tour.

    DOUGLAS GORDON AT THE KUNSTHAUS BREGENZ: In his exhibition at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, writes Harald Fricke in Die Tageszeitung, Douglas Gordon explores zones of darkness—both symbolically and literally: The Scottish film-and-video artist has covered the inside of the building with black cloth, transforming the pristine white cube into “a gothic haunted house.” The ghost is none other than Robert Wringhim, the antihero who makes a pact with the devil in James Hogg's 1824 classic Confessions of a Justified Sinner. The novel, which inspired the Surrealists with its graphic depiction of violence and

  • picks February 06, 2002

    Kerstin Kartscher

    Kerstin Kartscher's Feminist Art Rock Aesthetics

    For those who can still remember the fascination of LP covers, Kerstin Kartscher's exhibition is a real treat. The thirty-five-year-old German artist, who lives in London, presents eleven drawings recalling ’70s album art. Her iconography—crystal mountains, stormy seas, playing cards, fairy-tale characters, and giant eagles—could easily double as visuals for glam rock with classical overtones, bands such as Queen, Genesis, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yes, ELO, Styx, or Elton John as Captain Fantastic. The major difference is that the heroes in Kartscher’s dreamy landscapes are exclusively female.

  • news February 04, 2002

    News from London, Paris, and Vienna

    The chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Art in London takes a public swipe at Conceptual art, while in Paris, a city long accused of having missed the art boat for two, possibly three decades, inaugurates two important new venues for contemporary art: the Palais de Tokyo and Le Plateau. Lastly, Vienna reopens the old Kunsthalle Wien with a survey of the work of its designer, Adolf Krischanitz.

    CONCEPTUAL ATTACK: The Institute of Contemporary Art’s chairman, Ivan Massow, caused a scandal recently in the London art world by claiming that Conceptual art is “pretentious, self-indulgent, craftless tat.” Massow added that the British art world was “in danger of disappearing up its own arse” and accused Tate director Nicholas Serota and collector Charles Saatchi of being “cultural tsars” who push Conceptual art in Britain the way official art is imposed in a totalitarian state. Does he mean a cultural-economic monopoly? BBC focuses on Massow’s stinging attack on—who else?—Tracey Emin and

  • picks January 30, 2002

    Thomas Demand

    Thomas Demand's Slobodan Milosevic

    Thomas Demand returns to 35 mm film to chronicle yet another world media event: Slobodan Milosevic’s arrival at the United Nations prison in The Hague, where he is currently awaiting trial for war crimes. Hof/Yard, 2001, Demand’s third film in three years, does not offer any images of the former leader of Serbia and Yugoslavia, or of the mass media entourage that photographed him in the courtyard. Instead, as in Brueghel’s Fall of Icarus, the focus here is on the banal landscape surrounding the fall. In this careful reenactment, one sees a wall, a fence, and shrubs—all filmed with a shifting

  • picks January 24, 2002

    Christian Jankowski

    Christian Jankowski Goes to School

    In the exhibition “Lehrauftrag” (Teaching contract), Christian Jankowski adds a new dimension to art education. Using his own teaching experience at various German art schools to offer shrewd, humorous advice to would-be artists, the thirty-three-year-old Berlin-based artist openly exploits the pedagogical situation. After interviewing several professors about the meaning of art, Jankowski and his students painted their comments on banners—for example, “One can build temples in Greece only when one can pay for them!!!”—and hung them on university buildings in mock protest. Transferred to the

  • picks January 24, 2002

    Darren Almond and Sarah Morris

    Darren Almond and Sarah Morris

    What do time and space look like? In this exhibition, Darren Almond and Sarah Morris propose concrete answers to a question that has inspired countless philosophical inquiries. Almond has produced an oversized clock that not only displays local time but also unveils the rudimentary mechanics behind the passing minutes of the day. A white barrel with the necessary numerical combinations printed in bright red rotates behind a digital display frame. These combinations can be deciphered only in the display; at the back of the clock, they appear as hieroglyphs from a pre-industrial age. Morris offers

  • news January 23, 2002

    Neshat in the News; Texte zur Kunst on the Art Market

    Zurich's Neue Zürcher Zeitung, spoke with Shirin Neshat on her return to Iran after the revolution; meanwhile, Berlin's Tagezeitung, explores Texte zur Kunst's art-market issue.

    In an article in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Simone Wille visits the Iranian artist Shirin Neshat at her studio near Ground Zero in downtown New York City. In this biographical sketch, Wille traces Neshat's career from her student days at UC Berkeley to her return to Iran ten years after the revolution. “It became a kind of obsession for me,” explains Neshat, “to go back and to understand the course of events that led to the Revolution.” The journey apparently also inspired her to return to the art world after a long hiatus. While explaining the difficulties of maintaining a position between two

  • news January 07, 2002

    Reading the Euro; Culture Politics in France and Germany

    Countries in the European Community may have lost part of their national identity when the Euro became the official currency for the twelve member states on January 1, but commentators have gained a rare opportunity to reflect on the aesthetics of the new money.

    READING THE EURO: Countries in the European Community may have lost part of their national identity when the Euro became the official currency for the twelve member states on January 1, but commentators have gained a rare opportunity to reflect on the aesthetics of the new money. In the Frankfurter Rundschau, Thomas Macho describes the nomadic character of money evidenced in the new bills, which feature images of abstract windows, gates, doors, passages on one side, and bridges to nowhere on the other. Die Zeit’s Achatz von Müller considers the political, historical, and psychological roles of

  • news December 22, 2001

    Egg Turner, the Beck's Futures Shortlist, and Neo Rauch

    Martin Creed may have won the Turner Prize, but not everyone is pleased with his work. Last week, a woman visitor threw eggs at his prizewinning installation The Lights Going On and Off, 2001.

    Martin Creed may have won the Turner Prize, but not everyone is pleased with his work. Last week, a woman visitor threw eggs at his prizewinning installation The Lights Going On and Off, 2001. Tate officials quickly escorted the vandal out of the room and delivered her to the police. Jacqueline Crofton—a painter and a grandmother—now faces banishment for life, not only from Tate Britain, the scene of her crime, but also from Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St Ives. According to a report in the BBC, Crofton claimed that she had nothing against Creed but did not believe that his work could