Schöneberger Ufer 61
September 3 - September 28
The death wails belonging to the six professional Romanian mourners in the film sequences Lament III (Museum Curator Collector) and Lament V (Empty Bags) (both 2013) are not the most damning pronouncements on the fate of contemporary art in Anca Munteanu Rimnic’s latest eight-part video. The darkest statements are conveyed through the ladies’ bemused and exacerbated facial expressions as they chant the words “museum,” “curator,” and “collector.”
Rimnic recruited the six wailers in her native Romania, where rural funerals include staged performances by women wearing black who theatrically mourn the death of the unfamiliar. In these segments they look like indulgent but harried grandmothers with weathered yet resilient features that showcase their irritation at the silliness of their engagement in an art project (when life’s rituals are their foremost concern). This attitude fosters the notion that the museum, the curator, and the collector are dead concepts that are not especially missed today. For Rimnic, these women recall the traditions of her origin—one that she continually struggles to reconcile with the pressures to modernize—and her diasporic identity as an artist now living in Berlin.
Wild Worses, 2013, the main sculpture in this exhibition, makes this tension most explicit. Massive leather harnesses hang from the ceiling, taking the shape of a sleeping or slain ox. Crafted by Romanian artisans who normally produce harnesses for horses still active in the region’s plowing farmlands, the sculpture was designed to fit around a BMW. Without the car’s sleek metallic body (and insinuated status), however, the leather strips sag as if they were depressed. This work, like others throughout the show, speaks to the empty values tied to current global quests for speed, luxury, and modernity.