Melissa Canbaz

  • picks November 09, 2017

    Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet

    The name Straub-Huillet is practical in that it designates not only two individuals who worked together but also emphasizes that they did not regard the distinction of authorship as important. Nevertheless, Jean-Marie Straub, who has survived Danièle Huillet, has often stood in the foreground as a filmmaker; this exhibition examines Huillet’s role and finds her to have been a valuable partner, correspondent, and facilitator. The multilayered show is structured around Kommunisten (Communists), 2014; one of Straub’s recent films, it serves as a compilation of the duo’s creative concerns as a whole,

  • picks May 11, 2017

    Shirana Shahbazi

    While hardly anyone still believes in photography’s claim to truth these days, the medium continues to renew its promise of authenticity. The contention that images, identities, and worlds are constructed has long been evident––even analog photography has for some time now had to account for it. Rather than clinging to that discussion, Shirana Shahbazi’s pictures take as their point of departure the material world, never completely breaking away from their relationship to objects. In this exhibition, thirty-five photographs are seemingly displayed at random, but each’s presentation is deliberate

  • picks March 13, 2017

    John Samson

    The current exhibition presents five documentary films by the late Scottish artist and anarchist John Samson. The gaze here is invariably focused on oddities, outsiders: Dressing for Pleasure (1977)—perhaps Samson’s most famous work—investigates rubber and latex fetishism, with rare footage of the punk boutique Sex, run by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren. Garments such as inflatable latex bodysuits, gas masks, and PVC overalls become ethnographic objects. These fetish costumes—along with those who derive a great deal of enjoyment from them—are presented and described with an almost

  • picks February 20, 2017

    “In the Carpet”

    Starting with two works by Sheila Hicks––both titled Gebetsteppich (Prayer Rug), from 1972 and 1974––the exhibition “In the Carpet” foregrounds the cultural-historical dimensions and production practices of this type of textile. Installed directly opposite each other are traditional Moroccan woven works, the Zemmour rug, ca. 1940, and the Beni Ourain rug, ca. 1920–30, named for the ethnic groups of the Middle Atlas that made them. At the same time, a formal dialogue runs between such traditional rugs and the works of key Bauhaus players such as Anni Albers, Gunta Stölzl, and Rudolf Lutz. Albers

  • picks December 15, 2016

    David Meskhi

    In David Meskhi’s photographs, the juxtaposition of opposites, in terms of form as well as content, is always in the foreground. The thirty photographs currently on display can be read as a movement study of the body: Alternating black-and-white and color exposures present male gymnasts in training put into dialogue with photographs of skateboarders in the open air. Even if images such as Nonexistent Spot No 02, 2013, recall the Californian skater scene at first glance, the surreal, brutal backdrop in Meskhi’s photograph, an abandoned concrete spot reminiscent of a landing strip, points to his

  • picks October 06, 2016

    Jan Groover

    Jan Groover’s first solo show in Germany is made up of selections from the most divergent phases of her production. In the late 1960s, the artist’s focus shifted from painting to photography, though she always remained true to a certain style. In the three-part work Untitled (, 1974, part of a series of motion studies, formal considerations are confronted with intuitive moments. Her practice, in these works, of timing captures to events—in this case, cars driving past—reflects a certain conceptual approach, it is colors and shapes that generate the content of the image and which are,

  • picks August 01, 2016

    Ursula Böckler

    Martin Kippenberger’s “Magical Misery Tour” is almost legendary. From December 1985 through March 1986 he toured Brazil to collect material for his project Tankstelle Martin Bormann (Gas Station Martin Bormann). As the story goes according to Kippenberger, there was supposedly a gas station somewhere in the country that had belonged to Bormann—a private secretary to Adolf Hitler. The artist resolved to realize the myth by buying a filling station and naming it after Bormann. Photographic documentation of this expedition was undertaken by Ursula Böckler, his assistant at the time. Staged thirty

  • picks May 31, 2016

    Jochen Lempert

    In Jochen Lempert’s exhibition, the gaze of a photographer merges with the methods of a scientist. His black-and-white photographs are studies that document similarities among humans, the animal world, and other organisms in nature via associative patterns. This ordering principle becomes especially clear in Plant Volatiles (all works cited, 2016)—a display case in which small-format photograms and gelatin silver prints are presented as if they were excerpts from a lexicon of the modern world. The arrangement of the installation is defined by discrete groupings in which visual motifs are corralled

  • picks April 27, 2016

    Isa Genzken

    Isa Genzken’s comprehensive exhibition “Make Yourself Pretty!” is, for Berlin, a truly overdue survey of her life’s work, bringing together excerpts from the artist’s entire spectrum of sculpture, painting, film, photography, and books. On the floor in the atrium of this venue lies the series “Ellipsoids and Hyperbolos,” 1976–82, an array of long, slender, abstract wooden sculptures that have the same presence as any upright figure. Corporeal elements are a motif in her sculptural pieces, including in the series “Schauspieler” (Actors), 2013–. These theatrically and trashily clad mannequins are

  • picks March 14, 2016

    Anthea Hamilton and Nicholas Byrne

    Anthea Hamilton and Nicholas Byrne have been working together since 2009 but also, as has been widely noted, share a private partnership. The mobilization of personal relationships within artistic discourse becomes most interesting when they’re made visible. The pamphlet for their exhibition “Love IV: Cold Shower” is a nice example of this. In a kind of mild repartee, thought fragments are formulated about a group of works from the series “Love,” 2012–, as if they were metaphors for the condition called “love.” The six inflatable sculptures here form a playful and at first almost infantile

  • picks November 23, 2015

    Hella Gerlach

    Viewing Hella Gerlach’s exhibition “paradise garage” resembles a spiritual exercise. In an effort to unlock the individual works and installations via their titles and configuration, linkages appear on divergent levels. Cremona (Kopfüber) (all works cited, 2015), for instance, extends through the space like an awning held up by two sulfur-yellow poles, which are mounted between two walls. The black bar pattern on its fabric is reminiscent of the facade structure of traditional wooden-frame houses commonly seen in historic city centers or suburbs of Germany. This architecture is based on the

  • picks October 02, 2015

    Daiga Grantina

    The exhibition “The Mountain Guide” by Daiga Grantina features five abstract sculptures composed of found objects that together articulate a vision simultaneously poetic and disturbingly uncanny. The individual works consist of complex striations in which transparent and metal materials, melted plastic, and cables are woven together until they start to resemble organic forms while taking on other, alien, futuristic qualities.

    Here and there, elements emerge that breathe life into the bizarre shapes. In I source D (all works 2015), for instance, red cables and wires run through a figure as if they

  • picks August 12, 2015

    Jonas Lipps

    Jonas Lipps’s seemingly random selection of works on paper appear as if they had been rummaged out of a back room for presentation in this current agglomeration of small-format drawings, watercolors, and collages. Their context is difficult to discern because neither exhibition nor work titles exist. The surreal images instead challenge the observer by oscillating between the sense and nonsense of the everyday, or between inner and outer worlds. For instance, in a couple drawings (all works untitled, 2015) a gigantic molar suddenly emerges from a landscape, or a dolphin prods a woman’s belly

  • picks February 26, 2015

    Reena Spaulings

    In Reena Spaulings’s exhibition “Sea Landscapes,” an iRobot Scooba 450 floor-scrubbing machine paints large-format images. The robot’s algorithm reinterprets the dramatic landscapes of J. M. W. Turner by shuttling matte paints from the Estate Emulsion series of the manufacturers Farrow & Ball back and forth across the canvas. Resultant works from the “Sea Landscapes” and “Bohemian Groove I” series (both 2015) on view have pathways, sharp angles, and circular patterns produced by each change in the device’s direction.

    Even if conventional painting strategies are here abnegated, the sensor detects

  • picks December 03, 2014

    “The Word Today Serves No One Except to Say to the Grocer Give Me a Pound of Lentils”

    The title of this exhibition is a quotation from Henri Chopin’s 1967 essay “Why I am the Author of Sound Poetry and Free Poetry,” in which he made a plea for release from the constraint of deploying words solely for purposes of explanation. This question of translating sound and poetry is one that is also reflected in the contemporary strategies of image production within painting, as displayed in this group exhibition of works by thirteen artists. For instance, Natalie Häusler’s like a jellyfish within architecture, 2011, deals with spatial questions emerging from poems shown in three distorted

  • picks October 08, 2014

    Sue Tompkins

    “It’s an orange brainwash tribute, it’s a revolution love infidelity speech,” spoke Sue Tompkins in a kind of rap during a performance on the opening night of her current solo exhibition, “Zog, I’m not over today.” The spoken word was here extended through movement so that her gestures and glances embodied the qualities of tempo, rhythm, and cadence, while Tompkins smiled, never standing still.

    Tompkins’s script, which was declaimed in a free-form style (as in her previous performances with her band Life Without Buildings), was based on text fragments culled from everyday life. These reappear in

  • picks July 02, 2014

    Scott King

    The oversize works by artists such as Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley are today installed to unleash a “Bilbao effect,” which became a popular term after Frank Gehry built the Guggenheim Museum in Spain, transforming the poor port city of Bilbao into a must-see tourist destination. The story behind Scott King’s Anish and Antony Take Afghanistan, 2014, a black-and-white comic strip included in his latest exhibition, “Totem Motive,” is based on this very scenario. Can giant sculptures make even a place like Afghanistan more attractive to tourists?

    The comic strip, drawn in collaboration with

  • picks April 01, 2014

    Rachel de Joode

    Functionally, the skin is the most multifaceted organ of the human organism. In its protective capacity, it serves as the boundary between interior and exterior, between ourselves and the world; simultaneously, it works as a connective organ that facilitates interaction and contact. This biological material, so to speak, forms the central motif for Rachel de Joode’s first solo exhibition in Europe. In “The Molten Inner Core,” de Joode organically links two- and three-dimensional media into a single web of interconnections. While flesh-colored sculptures, such as the works Sculpted Human Skin in

  • picks March 15, 2014

    Hannah Höch

    Grotesque portraits of men with animal bodies, images constructed around a red mouth, dancing bees that hover in the sky: Hannah Höch’s works are layerings of body and object that often interweave sociopolitical themes with a punk aesthetic. This extensive exhibition spans six decades of Höch’s production, from 1910 to 1970. It consists primarily of studies for her collages, photomontages, and decals in scrapbooks. Beginning with her collages from the postwar era, which satirize figures in politics and economics (Staatshäupter [Heads of State], 1918–20), it then crosses over into a visual

  • picks February 02, 2014

    Karla Black

    Transparent adhesive tape is not normally visible, but in this exhibition it appears as a curtain of delicately glancing light. Karla Black’s Stop Counting (all works 2013), hanging vertically between the ceiling and floor, consists of hundreds of see-through strips that have been altered only by the artist’s paint-stained fingerprints. This provides the work with a notion of the individual while also reflecting the physical process of its production.

    Black’s stagings, which are reminiscent of theatrical sets, are often created as site-specific interventions that restructure the space they occupy.