Jennifer Allen

  • picks April 18, 2001

    Simon Starling: “burn time”

    Simon Starling's neoclassical chicken coops

    What came first: the chicken or the egg? The Glasgow-based artist Simon Starling would probably answer, the Bauhaus designer Wilhelm Wagenfeld. In anticipation of his first solo show in Berlin, Starling made a model of the neoclassical building that houses the Wagenfeld Museum in Bremen, and used it last year as a chicken coop at a farm in Scotland. Starling even takes the migratory process one step further: Eggs from the Scottish farm are being cooked in Wagenfeld’s glass egg-coddlers in a brick oven, itself a model of the gallery building, which used to house a furnace. Both models are on

  • UP THE ORGANIZATION: ATELIER VAN LIESHOUT

    JUST HOW BIG CAN AN ARTWORK GET? Joep van Lieshout seems determined to find out. The thirty-seven-year-old Dutch artist has recently declared his sprawling studio compound at the Rotterdam harbor a free state. This month, Atelier van Lieshout (AVL) will become AVL-Ville, a civic artwork in progress—complete with housing, education, sewage treatment, and even a slaughterhouse. Since establishing AVL in 1995, van Lieshout has produced works on an ever-increasing scale: polygamy-friendly furniture (Modular Multi Women Bed, 1997), mobile homes for despotic campers (Autocrat, 1997), and shipping

  • Isabell Heimerdinger

    Isabell Heimerdinger likes to watch actors watching their old movies. A voyeur of repertory cinema, the Berlin-based artist has previously made videos of Rüdiger Vogler and Yella Rottländer watching their performances in Wim Wenders’s 1974 road movie Alice in den Städten (Alice in the cities). In these strange screenings, the actors become witnesses to their own past, which is caught between the roles they played and their memories of making the film. Since Heimerdinger’s camera remains unflinchingly focused on them, their reactions veer awkwardly from spectatorship to performance. When a

  • picks March 29, 2001

    Jörg Herold

    Jörg Herold goes in search of the Tartar legend

    Familiar with the “Tartar legend”? According to Joseph Beuys, when his fighter plane crashed in the Ukraine in 1944, he was nursed back to health by the local Tartar who wrapped his body in felt and fat—two curatives that later became the staples of his work. The Berlin-based artist Jörg Herold went back to the site of the crash and spoke with locals who, it turns out, still remember the wounded German soldier, although they know nothing of his subsequent fame in the art world. Herold’s multimedia installation Heldenfriedhof (Hero cemetery), 2001, features two video projections that document

  • picks March 16, 2001

    Bojan Sarcevic

    Bojan Sarcevic gives American pop songs a Turkish twist

    Bojan Sarcevic knows how to orchestrate uncanny exchanges. For “Cover Versions,” the twenty-six-year-old Paris-based artist traveled to Istanbul and asked a Turkish Gypsy band, Barbaros Erköse, to interpret popular Western songs on traditional Ottoman instruments. A black-and-white video triptych (all works 2000) documents the musicians miming and then expertly transforming Nirvana’s “Come As You Are,” Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” and the Chemical Brothers’ “Block Rockin’ Beats” into their own musical idiom, Maqam. Sarcevic’s 16-mm color

  • Nina Fischer and Maroan El Sani

    NINA FISCHER AND MAROAN EL SANI practice a strange sort of detective work. The German artists, who have been working together in Berlin since 1993 (exclusively so since 1994), are fascinated with what remains of people after they have disappeared. In the past, they have used high-frequency cameras to photograph electromagnetic fields in houses, once considered a means of capturing the “aura” of former inhabitants. Although their methods are scrupulous, the artists do not collect these traces in order to reconstruct the past. Unlike real detectives or even historians, they are evidently content

  • Angela Bulloch

    Got a case of chromophobia? Angela Bulloch’s ingenious pixel boxes might not be what the doctor ordered. The artist, who is based in Berlin and London, has given the pixel—the indivisible picture element whose only information value is color—an entirely new plastic form. Basically, Bulloch has transformed the little color squares that make up a televisual image into large, individual sculptural units. Each one is a fifty-centimeter (nineteen-and-a-half-inch) cube and consists of a screen framed in a wooden box containing an RGB additive light system: three strip lights in red, green, and blue

  • Darren Almond

    An adept chronicler of the industrial age, Almond uncovers the eerie traces of its violence in the most unexpected artifacts, from bus-stop shelters at Auschwitz to the body of his working-class father. In Zurich, along with familiar works involving time and trains, he will present a new video installation that promises to sound the depths of the Central Asian mining industry. Almond went down an active coal mine in Kazakhstan and filmed workers moving through the rudimentary shafts. The large-scale projections of the footage are accompanied by audio recordings of strangely incongruous nocturnal

  • Manfred Pernice

    A faint, unmistakable odor filled the air: sawdust. As a recipient of the Piepenbrock Sculpture Prize 2000, Manfred Pernice actually set up an atelier in the Hamburger Bahnhof. By adding freshly cut sculptures to completed pieces, the Berlin-based artist essentially transformed his award exhibition into a work in progress. Those who attended only the opening ended up missing most of the show.

    Although the studio was located within the exhibition space, Pernice did not turn the exhibition into a performance. The artist’s working space remained off-limits to the public, its entry sealed with a

  • Matthieu Laurette

    MATTHIEU LAURETTE IS A SORT OF MODERN-DAY HUNGER ARTIST. Currently based in Paris, Laurette became well known in his native France for having survived almost exclusively on products with money-back guarantees. He ate the food, then asked for a reimbursement, claiming to be somewhat less than “100 percent satisfied.” Since then, his projects have moved beyond a preoccupation with free consumer goods to a consideration of how to profit from the media's insatiable need for images. Evidently influenced by Guy Debord, the artist attempts to exploit the transformation of life into an endless accumulation

  • A.K. Dolven

    A.K. Dolven’s paintings are moving—in both senses of the word. The Norwegian artist, who resides in Berlin and London, started out as a painter, but in recent years she began using video as well. While the paintings reveal a Minimalist aesthetic, the videos offer resonant figurative images taken from the history of painting. Dolven’s fidelity to this tradition, in spite of her turn to video, was affirmed this year in Berlin when she was awarded the Fred Thieler prize for painting—making her both the first woman and the first artist using video to be so recognized. Whatever the medium, Dolven

  • Michel Majerus

    We know what lies beyond the looking glass, but what if Alice had stepped into a painting? The Berlin artist Michel Majerus shows us what Alice might have found: distorted images of virtually everything that has ever appeared on canvas. A sampling of Majerus’s painterly quotations could be seen at the entrance to the Italian Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale. Painted directly on the facade, Complexity/ Inhale Exhale, 1999, literally transformed the building, which contained an enormous collection of contemporary artworks, into the space behind a painting—hinting that Majerus will likely

  • Gösta Röver

    Can contemporary art find a place in spectator sports? Gösta Röver decided to find out—by sponsoring the Sport Verein Erbsen (Erbsen sports club), a men’s soccer team near her hometown of Göttingen. Röver, who now resides in Berlin, proposed an “imagetransfer” project to the minor-league team: She would purchase and design their uniforms, provided the players would wear them— with her logo—for the 1998–99 season. Though skeptical at first, the team accepted her offer and Röver obtained the rights to record every game. On Sunday afternoons, from September to June, the players of Erbsen ran about

  • Matti Braun

    Matti Braun has added yet another chapter to his secret art history of the twentieth-century. The German-Finnish artist, who was born in Berlin but makes his home in Cologne, is not interested in the heroic art movements that are the stuff of traditional art-historical narratives. Instead, Braun focuses on mistakes and errors, carefully mapping out those encounters between artists and cultures which went nowhere or ended in catastrophe. Last year saw the publication of his early book project Adolf Hitler, Installationen und Happenings, 1992, which considers the dictator’s aestheticization of

  • Plamen Dejanov & Swetlana Heger

    Those who showed up for the Dejanov & Heger opening found the gallery closed for vacation—or so a notice pasted on the shutters declared. The Vienna-based artists contributed a similar sign to the Vienna Secession’s 1997 “x-squared” exhibition, even going on holidays for the duration of that group show. For their Berlin debut, the pair decided that the gallery—artworks and gallerist included—deserved a rest. The installation Parallel Life (Plenty Objects of Desire), 1998, sat idle in the space while the gallery owner, Mehdi Chouakri, was off in the Canary Islands. On his return two weeks later,