Critics’ Picks

Jakup Ferri, An Artist Who Cannot Speak English Is No Artist, 2003, color video transferred to DVD, 3 minutes 56 seconds.


“Vertigo of Freedom”

Collegium Hungaricum Berlin
Dorotheenstraße 12
October 19, 2012–January 27, 2013

Inside: We are shrouded in darkness—necessarily so, as most of the works are video-based and projected along the walls with a raised platform accelerating our path through the works, which can be better thought of as instances: i.e., what freedom might mean in a Europe finally finished with all its wars, both cold and hot. Jakup Ferri explains An Artist Who Cannot Speak English Is No Artist, 2003, in a broken, elementary English that is nearly incomprehensible, yet movingly reminiscent of Gertrude Stein’s emploi of repetition, which seems to all the more enforce the abhorrence of linguistic hegemony that so many art worlders take for granted. In The Barrier, 2011, Jaroslav Kysa leads an army of pigeons down London’s Oxford Street, the most famous route dedicated to frivolous consumption in all of Europe. A side room shows a comparatively longer work––at twenty-eight minutes––by Raphaël Grisey, National Motives, 2011, which depicts a desolate tour through Budapest at night, its monuments lit up, its streets empty save for the homeless and nocturnal manual laborers. Sometimes truth can only be seen in the dark.

Outside: There is light. Only a bare lightbulb, to be precise. One that swings back and forth like a metronome, situated in the floor-to-ceiling window above the entrance to the Collegium Hungaricum. It is another work by Kysa, titled Too Far East Is West, 2010. Upon closer inspection, a whole new perspective emerges, as we find the work is “framed” by Imre Lepsényi’s sound installation niasono, 2012––Esperanto for “our voice”––made up of horns humming in Zen-like tones. It does sound like a voice, though not that of a solitary individual or the cacophony of many competing voices; rather, it is what a single collective unitary voice might sound like, were such a thing possible: the impossible lost dream of utopian politics.

For those accustomed to attending group exhibitions organized around a neat thesis, “Vertigo of Freedom” is sure to disappoint. Instead, Kata Krasznahorkai gives us curation as art form, leaving us to form our own conclusions—of which there are potentially many, despite the slim and nuanced selection of works.