Critics’ Picks

Marjetica Potrc, Prishtina House, 2006/2007, mixed media, dimensions variable.


“This Place Is My Place—Begehrte Orte (Desired Spaces)”

Kunstverein in Hamburg k
Klosterwall 23
January 27–May 6

The exhibition “This Place is My Place—Begehrte Orte (Desired Spaces)” is a window onto our world. It contains concise reflections on social and political interdependence at global and local scales, focusing closely on the myriad personal ways individuals experience their immediate environment. Yilmaz Dziewior, director of the Kunstverein, has brought together works that explore “a new phase of capitalism,” a phase “characterized by postmodern lifestyles, post-Fordist relations of production, and methods of sovereignty based on the society of control.” That may sound very theoretical—it has close ties to the theories expounded in Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt’s best-selling Empire—but Dziewior has selected a coherent group of works, and he presents their ideas with convincing dramaturgy. Yael Bartana’s video Kings of the Hill, 2003, is the perfect first act: Souped-up all-terrain vehicles clamber up sandy slopes outside Tel Aviv, getting bogged down in the steep dunes as their tires spin pointlessly. This traffic chaos has the feel of a funfair: young people walk about, cheering for the men in the cars. Bartana’s restrained yet subtly charged documentary style transposes macho territorial competitiveness into the political contexts and social conflicts of the Middle East. In Prishtina House, 2006/2007, Marjetica Potrc presents a mixture of architectural styles typical of self-built dwellings in regions affected by migration. Ursula Biemann’s Black Sea Files, 2004–2005, connects the construction of the Caspian oil pipeline to the lives of villages, builders, and prostitutes, making visible the effects of globalization. Dan Perjovschi uses caricature in his wall drawings of current events (This Wall Is My Wall, 2007) to direct our attention to global political issues, the power mechanisms of art and politics, and personal experience. His quick sketches contain illustrative comments in headline style: “I like your ideas,” says one of the figures (an art collector) affably, while another (an artist) answers succinctly, “I like your Mercedes.”