PRINT December 2013

Judith Hopf

Druot, Lacaton & Vassal’s renovation of Tour Bois-le-Prêtre, 2011, Paris. Photo: Infofd/Wikicommons.

1 “DRUOT, LACATON & VASSAL: TRANSFORMATION OF A 1960S RESIDENTIAL HIGH-RISE” (DEUTSCHES ARCHITEKTURMUSEUM, FRANKFURT; CURATED BY ILKA AND ANDREAS RUBY WITH SOMETHING FANTASTIC) The materials displayed in this show documented the refurbishment of a typical Paris banlieue. Many of these high-rises were designed by the first generation of postwar architects in the 1960s but were later destroyed by careless, market-driven upgrades that tended to disregard the structures’ original aims. When French architects Anne Lacaton, Jean-Philippe Vassal, and Frédéric Druot renovated the Tour Bois-le-Prêtre building in 2011, however, they raised the stakes in efforts to improve living conditions in suburban social housing. According to the trio, residential public housing can achieve a degree of comfort and quality equal to that of luxury buildings: It is a matter of never demolishing, subtracting, or replacing the architecture, but of efficiently transforming and utilizing it—of making better use of what already exists. This attitude was evident not only in the work but in the show’s understated exhibition design.

2 LIVING ARCHIVE FESTIVAL (KW INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART BERLIN AND KINO ARSENAL; ORGANIZED BY ELLEN BLUMENSTEIN AND STEFANIE SCHULTE STRATHAUS) This year, we finally gained access to the Arsenal Institute für Film und Videokunst’s fifty-year-old archive. In 2011, the institution invited thirty-seven artists, filmmakers, curators, and scholars hailing from locales as far-flung as the US, India, South Africa, and Brazil to develop projects from its expansive holdings. The results of these various endeavors were presented at KW and at Kino Arsenal. Among the outstanding works on view were Martin Ebner’s spare sculptures, collectively titled Film ohne Film (Film Without Film), 2013; Madhusree Dutta and Ines Schaber, Ebner and Florian Zeyfang, composer and pianist Eunice Martins, and many others organized complex film programs. The festival demonstrated the value of experimenting with film and video instead of trying to copy the HD technical standards set by the film industry, and I’ve enjoyed being inspired to step into less sure aesthetics and art practices.

3 DAS NEUE FLEISCH” (THE NEW FLESH) (AFTER THE BUTCHER, BERLIN; CURATED BY CLEMENS KRÜMMEL) Held at After the Butcher, one of my favorite artist-run spaces in Berlin, this great, thought-provoking show juxtaposed nineteenth-century newspaper illustrations lent from the Melton Prior Institut, many of which originally accompanied reports on industrial abattoirs and meatpacking facilities, with works by contemporary artists such as Monika Baer, Felix Reidenbach, and Xiaopeng Zhou. This pairing of new and historical depictions of flesh raised questions about our shifting understandings of ownership of the body. As the title, borrowed from David Cronenberg’s 1983 horror classic Videodrome, hints, the borders between “actual” and “mediated” reality have dissipated in variously humorous, dark, and artistically amazing ways. It was something to learn from, indeed.

4 HENRIK OLESEN (GALERIE BUCHHOLZ, BERLIN) Olesen’s show also made me think about the ways in which the body “speaks” and, more importantly, about the aesthetic and political implications of its utterances.

5 THEA DJORDJADZE (KUNSTVEREIN LINGEN KUNSTHALLE, GERMANY, AND MALMÖ KONSTHALL, SWEDEN; CURATED BY MEIKE BEHM, JACOB FABRICIUS, AND CHRISTOPHE GALLOIS) I am a true admirer of Djordjadze’s elegance: Her work’s reductive geometry and flat, spare presentation interprets modernism’s ruins anew, finding in them a range of novel possibilities. This show traveled to three venues (I saw the first two), economically adding and subtracting works in each precise instantiation.

Co-organized with Mudam Luxembourg.

View of “Nicole Eisenman: ‘Tis but a scratch’ ‘A scratch?! Your arm’s off!’ ‘No, it isn’t,’” 2013, Studio Voltaire, London. Photo: Andy Keate.

6 NICOLE EISENMAN (STUDIO VOLTAIRE, LONDON; CURATED BY JOE SCOTLAND) Eisenman’s wild yet sensitive approach to her work enables a more expansive understanding of painting. In fact, this show consisted almost entirely of figurative sculptures: sad portrayals of warped, decaying bodies that were all produced on-site.

7 ANNE IMHOF (PORTIKUS, FRANKFURT; CURATED BY SOPHIE VON OLFERS) Infiltrating multiple sites and encompassing subjects ranging from pickpocketing to dance, Imhof’s intense work reimagines “social sculpture” for our era. Her efforts are simultaneously unique, subversive, and flamboyant, and I am a fan.

8 “THE WHOLE EARTH” (HAUS DER KULTUREN DER WELT, BERLIN; CURATED BY DIEDRICH DIEDERICHSEN AND ANSELM FRANKE) This rich, generous study explored the political ideologies and popular culture that originated in the unlikely California milieu of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog of the 1960s and ’70s, and included pieces by artists and collectives such as Ant Farm, Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, and Sharon Lockhart.

9 “TELL IT TO MY HEART: COLLECTED BY JULIE AULT” (MUSEUM FÜR GEGENWARTSKUNST BASEL; CURATED BY NIKOLA DIETRICH AND SCOTT CAMERON WEAVER) A plaintive display of selections from Group Material cofounder Julie Ault’s personal collection, this show asks what might be the most important question of all: Can one live with art in a way that will change the world?

Co-organized with Culturgest, Lisbon.

10 CIMITERO DELLE FONTANELLE, NAPLES Nothing lasts forever—that is obvious here. A sixteenth-century charnel house located in a cave, this amazing site spurred twinned thoughts about ephemerality and perpetuity when I visited this past year.

Berlin-based artist Judith Hopf teaches at the Städelschule, Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Frankfurt. In 2013, she presented solo shows at Studio Voltaire, London, Kunstverein Lingen Kunsthalle, Germany, and Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples.