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Essen & Dusseldorf
We went on an excursion organized by Rijksakademie. We went to:
1. A retrospective exhibition of Casper David Friedrich in Museum Folkwang Essen.
He is a painter from the Romantic period; but my impression of his paintings was quite different from what I had expected. His touch is thin and light, and rather flat. His paintings appeared familiar to me as his means for expression is more like an animation.
2. ZERO-exhibition in Museum kunst palest in Dusseldorf.
ZERO is a group of artists who were involved with the avant-garde movement in Europe in the 1950s and the 1960s. This retrospective exhibition shows works of artists like Lucio Fontana and Yves Klein, but also of GUTAI movement in Japan, offering a comprehensive overview of the avant-garde movement. It was nice to see so many works of GUTAI.
There were some video images from that time (some images of artists in their studios, an image from the outdoor sculpture exhibition in Gunma, etc.). These images make us see how these works evolved as a ‘re-action’ to the circumstances. These works present themselves differently when they are put in a neutral abstract space of the museum. They appear just as ‘an action.’ It was interesting to see that difference.
Having recorded images is very useful in this kind of occasion, I thought.
3. A retrospective exhibition of Martin Kippenberger in K21 in Dusseldorf (– the same exhibition as the one at Tate Modern in London till the end of last month).
At the entrance hall, they had ‘The happy-end of Franz Kafka’s America.’ Other works are also shown in a big open space, and it was interesting to see how these works ‘resonate’ when they are put together in such a space. This whole dynamics make the materials of Kippenberger’s painting stand out.
The exhibition looked quite different from when I saw it at Tate Modern, where the space is also big but closed and separated into rooms. It was nice to see it again in a different space.
Well, that’s all for now about the excursion.
The images are from Casper David Friedrich, which I took from the exhibition pamphlet. If you are interested in, please check real catalogues.
The Way We Work
I'd like to write about what I just remembered.
I was researching about wood cutters last year; well, a ‘research’ – but I just ‘Googled’ to get some writings and images about wood cutters. I found a webpage which has an interview of a young wood cutter by someone (probably an intellectual). He is a leader of a group of young wood cutters and seems like a surefooted person in spite of his age.
What impressed me first was:
‘Wood cutters do not start cutting wood as soon as they get to the mountain. First, they boil some water and make tea. After enjoying some peaceful moments, and when they feel like starting, they finally start.’
He also says, ‘some people simply say "do not cut wood." But the truth is, these mountains will not survive unless we cut some wood.’ In order to live together with mountains, we need to cut down some trees; and it is important to work on it.
What he says reminded me of paintings. Painting is not just putting paint on. It is to select a particular element from chaos and to turn it into an object. It is also to give some kind of order to chaotic elements so that they become visible. To give an order is to make these elements lucid and to make them react to each other. When this process is repeated, it is accumulated as layers and it finally become a painting.
Maybe we should not start such a process in haste. First, turn on the kettle and make tea. In these days, as a person who engaged with such kind of work, I am beginning to feel the importance of such an attitude.
This is about Marcus, a boyfriend of Sema (a participant at Rijks, a Dutch photographer).
At Rijks, we often come across with artists’ family or boy/girl friends who came to give a hand to artists.
It is Marcus who I see most often among them.
When Sema is busy, he picks up prints from a workshop for Sema; he also helps Sema to install her works for the Project room. He always meet Sema at the airport when she comes back from a trip. I also saw him walking Lura (Gal’s dog) – for Sema?
He is tall and has a sweet tender face. He is a solo musician. He plays guitar using effecter. Pauline has his CD, and we listened to it together. I could not even tell whether his songs are in Dutch or in English. So I asked, ‘what are his songs about?’ – they are all about Sema.
Wow...!! I was a bit taken aback... but no, this is REALLY fantastic.
Are you watching the World Cup? Of course I am watching!
At Rijksakademie, a projector is installed specially for watching the World Cup. In the evening, some are practicing football. We are also taking bets on the result (the winner will receive either an artwork or a service). We are totally ready for the World Cup.
When they lose their bets, or when their national teams lose, the artists disappointedly return to their studio; it is likely, however, that they do not do much after such a game. After the game between Japan and Australia the other day, for instance, I was so disappointed that I had to take a nap. I also heard that Meiro was throwing his slippers at a wall. Did you do anything? We must pray for their victory for their next game on the 18th.
Berlin Biennale II
Again about Berlin Biennale. The Berlin TV tower is now dressed up for World Cup. Go! Japan!
It was in Post Office Stables – a former post-office building (Auguststrasse 5A).
When you enter the first room, you see a football shoe – not a pair, but just one – on an empty floor. As the photo shows, this is rather a lonesome scene if it were not for a cheerful music. This music – something like a Jewish traditional music – changes the whole perception. As you listen to it, this lonesome shoe seems more and more like an interesting object.
There is a hole on the wall which leads you to the next room. Lured by the music, I went on to the next room, where I found an image of a band playing. The title is ‘A Tune for Berlin Biennale.’ Four happy middle-aged men are playing that music; sometimes they go ‘Auguststrasse (the street name of this venue)! Auguststrasse!’ It was really funny. After the performance, they talk to each other contentedly, and eat cakes.
I would like to write about some works from Berlin Biennale that caught my special attention.
There is a railway and an entire wagon train in an exhibition room. This room – a former Jewish Girls’ School in Berlin – has neither a large door nor a window to put this train in. But this train and the railway, as far as I can judge, are real.
‘A train in a room... how did they manage to put this in?’
‘It’s possible if they put all the parts apart, carry them into the room, and put them back again.’
‘Hum... but I smell something. There may be more to it, you know.’
‘Maybe every part is an imitation. They created the whole thing.’
I checked the caption of the work. It says, ‘wood, acrylic resin, paint.’
Really!? Oh, my God!
I kept telling myself this was not real. But it looked nothing but real. I used to think that material decides whether the object looks heavy or light. But this work betrayed my belief completely. The artist re-created it so well that it looks heavy just as though it is made of wood and steel. This also looked as if it had a real history.
It came across my mind that maybe the caption is lying... but that is a kind of a crime. So I put that possibility out of my mind.