Nina Möntmann

  • Sarah Abu Abdallah, The Salad Zone, 2013, video, color, sound, 21 minutes 27 seconds.

    Sarah Abu Abdallah

    When a woman from Saudi Arabia makes art, the global—which is to say, Western-dominated—art world typically expects her work to confront and denounce the oppression of women in her country. Sarah Abu Abdallah subverts this expectation. Although she addresses the everyday lives of Saudi women, she sets the macropolitical mechanisms of systematic oppression aside to focus on the microcosm of the private sphere, where her subjects come into contact with the wider world via the internet. The video pieces Abu Abdallah presented, together with an installation and a painting in her first solo show in

  • KP Brehmer,  Korrektur der Nationalfarben, Gemessen an der Vermögensverteilung (Version I) (Correction of the National Colors, Measured by Distribution of Wealth [Version I]), 1970, textile, metal rings, 163 x 80".
    picks June 12, 2019

    KP Brehmer

    Three flags wave in front of Hamburger Kunsthalle. Their colors correspond to those of the German flag but do not quite match in proportion. Instead, these flags function as a diagram depicting the country’s wealth distribution: The barely visible red line represents the property holdings of those in the lowest-income brackets; the thin black stripe, the holdings of the middle class; and the fat yellow block, those of the big finance classes. This work, Korrektur der Nationalfarben (Correction of the National Colors), 1970, launches KP Brehmer’s extensive exhibition. According to a recent study

  • Josef Bauer, Körpergalerie (Body Gallery), 1974, photographic print, 29 1⁄2 × 21 5⁄8" (framed). From the series “Körpergalerie” (Body Gallery), 1974.

    Josef Bauer

    A woman awkwardly and rigidly clutches a giant letter k to her chest as though it were her greatest treasure and she fears it might abandon her. The object is not much smaller than she is, and there is something touching about how its cumbersome bulk yields to her forceful embrace. The black-and-white photograph is part of a series titled “Taktile Poesie” (Tactile Poetry), 1965–, by Austrian conceptual artist Josef Bauer, whose work since 1964 was presented in this survey exhibition, titled “Taktile Poesie—die Sprache des Zeigens” (Tactile Poetry: The Language of Showing). Bauer’s “tactile

  • Wael Shawky, Al Araba Al Madfuna III, 2016, HD video, color, sound, 27 minutes 2 seconds. From the trilogy “Al Araba Al Madfuna,” 2012–16.

    Wael Shawky

    The final installment of Wael Shawky’s video trilogy “Al Araba Al Madfuna,” 2012–16, proposes a kind of resolution to the first two parts. In Hamburg, the gravity of its purpose was evident the moment the visitor entered the gallery: The room was bathed in a deep-blue shimmering metallic deep-blue light, anticipating the mystical palette of a video projected floor to ceiling. Blue, silvery, and washed-out magenta hues predominate in the film, which is set in and around the temple of Pharaoh Seti I in Upper Egypt, thanks to a peculiar technique the artist has employed, of subjecting the digital

  • View of “Nina Beier,” 2015. Foreground: Plunge (detail), 2014–15. Background: Liquid Assets, 2013. Photo: Fred Dott.

    Nina Beier

    I am writing this on Monday, July 14, the day the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, announced that Greece’s withdrawal from the EU—the dreaded “Grexit”—had been averted. The euro zone’s heads of state have agreed on a comprehensive package of spending cuts and reforms that lays down humiliating conditions that Greece must comply with in order to get new money going forward. The writers Maurizio Lazzarato and David Graeber have analyzed the moral and political dimensions of debt and demonstrated that people tend to respond coolly to the suffering of others who are in debt.

  • Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, The Paths to the Common(s) Are Infinite (detail), 2014, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri

    In their exhibition “The Paths to the Common(s) Are Infinite,” Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri explored the great themes of the era that began with the 2008 financial crisis—the all-pervasive power of money, the disciplining effect of debt, and the unavoidable question, How can this world continue to exist? In the past few years, these issues have spawned a growing body of literature and occupied many a TV panel discussion, but Anastas and Gabri approach this complex of ideas through intimate formats that demand more sustained attention, such as long video interviews and extensive notes.


  • Wael Shawky, Al Araba Al Madfuna, 2012, video, black-and-white, sound, 21 minutes.

    Wael Shawky

    Wael Shawky’s elaborate filmed marionette piece Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show File, 2010, based on the history of the First Crusade at the end of the eleventh century, was one of the most impressive works at Documenta 13. The second part of his planned video trilogy, Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo, 2012, was recently shown as part of the Berlin exhibition “Wael Shawky. Al Araba Al Madfuna,” curated by Susanne Pfeffer.

    The battle continues: In this second installment, Aleppo’s ruler agrees to mount a cross on the minaret of the city’s Great Mosque; Jerusalem burns; heads roll on both the

  • Ulla von Brandenburg, Chorspiel (Choral Play), 2010, still from a black-and-white video, 10 minutes 35 seconds.

    Ulla von Brandenburg/Malin Pettersson Öberg

    In 2010, Ulla von Brandenburg made Chorspiel, a video in the form of a “choral play.” In this Ibsenesque family drama, a grandfather, grandmother, mother, and daughter move like pieces on a chessboard in front of a drawn backdrop that shows an open field near a forest, reminiscent of the settings of Lars von Trier’s films Dogville (2003) and Manderlay (2005). The interactions among these figures are characterized by ritualized gestures, such as the loosening of a tangle of yarn they pass between them. Rather than speaking, they lip-synch to the singing of an offstage choir, which gives them an

  • “Not Easy, to Save the World in 90 Days”

    “Born in Batman”: Gallerygoers have surely cracked a grin at this line on wall labels for Fikret Atay’s work. In the video Batman vs. Batman, 2009, Atay has finally addressed the comical name of his hometown, situated near Turkey’s border with Iraq. The video features Hüseyin Kalkan, the mayor of Batman, as a superhero who takes David Nolan and Warner Bros. to court over the ownership of the name Batman—hoping to invest the winnings to ameliorate social problems in the downtrodden Turkish town, an enterprise doomed to failure. Atay sheds light on the local politics and problems of southeastern

  • Edith Dekyndt

    In 1977, copies of a golden phonograph record filled with sounds bearing witness to human civilization and Earth’s flora and fauna were shot into space onboard both Voyager probes; they have been hurtling through space and time ever since. It will take forty thousand years for one of them to reach another planet, where—at least this is the hope—it will give whomever or whatever it finds there a notion of life on Earth: They will hear Bach and the Beatles, greetings in more than fifty different languages, and the sounds of the surf and a beating heart. The Belgian artist Edith Dekyndt has picked

  • Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Looking for Layla, from “The Mappamundi Suite,” 2006–2007, digital collage for video projection.

    “Horn Please: Narratives in Contemporary Indian Art”

    Curators Bernhard Fibicher and Suman Gopinath have selected some two hundred works from the ’80s to the present, including better-known artists—Atul Dodiya, Anita Dube, Raqs Media Collective, and Vivan Sundaram among them—and promising figures who have not yet received much exposure, such as Gigi Scaria and experimental filmmaker Ayisha Abraham.

    Modern Indian art represents a continuation of rather than a break with the country’s tradition of figurative narrative painting, or so this exhibition proposes. To make this case, curators Bernhard Fibicher and Suman Gopinath have selected some two hundred works from the ’80s to the present, including better-known artists—Atul Dodiya, Anita Dube, Raqs Media Collective, and Vivan Sundaram among them—and promising figures who have not yet received much exposure, such as Gigi Scaria and experimental filmmaker Ayisha Abraham. The show’s title is taken from signs on Indian rickshaws and trucks

  • Akram Zaatari

    When the Hamburg gallery Sfeir-Semler opened an exhibition space in Beirut two years ago, it began to show the work of artists from the Middle East, including Akram Zaatari, one of the founders of the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut. The foundation’s aim is to research and archive the photographic history of the Middle East; it holds the collections of numerous photographers, including the archives of Hashem el Madani (born in 1928), which contains approximately 150,000 portraits. For his exhibition in Hamburg, Zaatari selected and reprinted images from the archive of Madani’s Studio Shehrazade