Critics’ Picks

Daniil Galkin, Tourniquet, 2015, metal, 14 x 10 x 20'.


“Fire and Forget. On Violence”

KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Auguststrasse 69
June 14–August 30

There is no easy access to “Fire and Forget. On Violence.” Visitors have to negotiate Daniil Galkin’s Tourniquet, 2015, a labyrinth of metal turnstiles, just to enter the exhibition space. What greets them after is an exploration of violence in its various manifestations, as ordered by the curators Ellen Blumenstein and Daniel Tyradellis, along the axes of Borders, Affect, Memory/Remembrance, and Event.

“Fire and Forget” is a military term for weapons systems that are launched at a safe distance from the enemy that reach their target independently. But there is much in the exhibition that belies the clinical detachment its title implies. Scenes of domestic violence play out in Gillian Wearing’s video Sacha and Mum, 1996, and in documentation of Marina Abramović and Ulay’s performance Light/Dark, 1978. While the former dwells on the complex and often fraught relationship between mother and daughter, the latter depicts the escalation of violence between intimate partners.

Dominating the space is He Xiangyu’s Tank, 2011–13, a deflated but otherwise true-to-scale tank made of leather, and installed nearby is Clara Ianni’s Still Life or Study for Vanishing Point, 2015, which consists of a grid of nine metal plates riddled with holes created by the same ammunition used by the Berlin police department. The show, however, is not just bullets and blood, guns and gore. In Pipilotti Rist’s video Ever Is Over All, 1997, a young woman gleefully smashes the windows of parked cars with a long-stemmed flower, before continuing blithely on her way. Perhaps these scenes of violence have an insidious effect: What else could possibly explain the vicarious thrills I got blowing up “Balloon Dogs” in Hunter Jonakin’s 2011 video game Jeff Koons Must Die!!!?