Barbara Weiss (1960–2016)

Barbara Weiss, 2013. Photo: Dawin Meckel/OSTKREUZ.

I HAD HEARD MANY THINGS ABOUT BARBARA WEISS before she invited me for a one-person show at her legendary gallery in Berlin this past November. She was notoriously tough, strong willed, known for doing things her way and speaking her mind. But by the time I arrived in the city she was already bedridden with cancer. So from the invitation to the exhibition itself I communicated exclusively with Barbara through her directors, Daniel Herleth and Bärbel Trautwein, who helped me to turn my show into a wonderful, successful endeavor.

This made my exhibition an exercise in remote communication and delayed decision-making. It was an unusual experience to have my full presence in Berlin accompanied by her total physical absence. After having finished my installation, our abstract communication found its climax in a bouquet of flowers I had delivered to her. I was told that she was very surprised and happy about the flowers. Her “sich sehr freuen” in response to this gesture excited me more than her approval of my show, which she passed on to me after viewing images of it from what would be her deathbed, where she remained working until her final hours.

Rainer Ganahl is an artist based in Stuttgart and New York.