Critics’ Picks

Max Pitegoff and Calla Henkel, Marlie, Berlin, Spring 2013, archival digital print, 38 x 31".

Max Pitegoff and Calla Henkel, Marlie, Berlin, Spring 2013, archival digital print, 38 x 31".


Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff

Tanya Leighton
Kurfürstenstrasse 24/25
April 27–June 30, 2013

To anyone who has encountered the work of this artist duo before, Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff’s latest exhibition is an environment that is easily recognizable as their own. Born in 1988 and 1987, respectively, and based in Berlin, Americans Henkel and Pitegoff quickly gained notoriety with Times Bar, a one-year venture the pair began in the Neukölln district in 2011. Elements from the bar live on in their current exhibition, “Nudes in Tanya Leighton's Storage, New Theater Prototypes.” In “New Theater Bench Prototypes,” 2013, four monochrome tiled benches are placed about the floor, while, unobtrusively, a half-empty—or rather, in the spirit of the pair’s practice, half-full—cocktail glass is “left behind” nearby in New Media (blue cocktail), 2012.

The main component of the exhibition is a photographic series of eight seductive images depicting artists—Marlie Mul and Yngve Holen, among others, all friends of Henkel and Pitegoff—doing their taxes. If these artists are recognizable at all, however, it’s only through the works’ titles, for instance Marlie, Berlin, Spring 2013 and Yngve, Berlin, Spring 2013, as each are represented only by the edge of their shoulder or the tip of their elbow leaning over a table. The focal points of the images are the tables themselves, which are littered with receipts, ticket stubs for airplanes and trains to places like Basel, empty coffee cups, and pastry crumbs. Warm lighting lends a serene ambience to an otherwise frustrating and quite literally taxing activity. Through these images, Henkel and Pitegoff home in on the precarity of a project-based lifestyle and the evolving ennui of everyday logistics that comes with being an artist in a rapidly gentrifying city. The series is a generous gesture from artists whose concern with community, specifically that of the arts, and its implication within systems of economics and labor seems to be at the core of their practice.