Berlin

“Rational/Irrational”

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)

This show at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures)—curator Valerie Smith’s first for the institution—brought together works by seven artists to investigate the boundaries of the rational and the irrational in a distinctively global context.

In the foyer, one encountered a series of flat-screen monitors. Here, Pawel Althamer, appearing thoroughly intoxicated on various substances, is seen in dialogue with Arthur Zmijewski, who generally holds the camera. Althamer is musing about “so-called waves and other phenomena of the mind,” as spelled out by the work’s title, So genannte Wellen und andere Phänomene des Geistes, 2003–2004. Under the effects of peyote, mushrooms, LSD, hashish, and, finally, truth serum, the artist becomes a kind of medium, putting himself into the service of an imagined community of truth seekers. The work updates the ancient myth of the artist’s

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