Archive for May, 2010

Holocaust Memorial

This post is out of chronological order, but I wanted to share that the St. Lawrence study group visited the Holocaust Memorial last Thursday, adjacent to the Brandenburg Gate.  We noted that in a city filled with graffiti on almost every imaginable surface, the block of flat gray stelae that comprise the Holocaust Memorial are kept free of commentary (if one can call graffiti commentary, that is).  We’ll talk more about this today with time (finally) to reflect upon what we’ve seen and experienced thus far in Berlin and Munich.

Something called the “Degussa incident” refers to a scandal in which an anti-graffiti chemical called Protectosil was used in the construction of the memorial stelae.  From Wikipedia, “On October 14, 2003, the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger published a few articles presenting as a scandal the fact that the Degussa company was involved in the construction of the memorial producing the anti-graffiti substance Protectosil used to cover the steles, because the company had been involved in several different ways in the National-Socialist persecution of the Jews. A subsidiary company of Degussa, Degesch, even produced the Zyklon B used to poison people in the gas chambers.”

Street art + art fair = an oxymoron

The Stroke 02 urban art fair was disappointing.  Aside from its overly commercial focus, it lacked the vibrancy we’ve seen and experienced on the streets and elsewhere.  Right from the beginning, we all asked, “Why Munich?” and later learned “that’s where the money is.”

The fair itself was situated in a four storey building next to the well groomed Englischer Garten in Munich, which alone seemed an odd and unfortunate decision.  The most interesting project was a live painting by 11 artists from Switzerland.  They had pieced together a large grid of 80 or so 16 x 20 boards, which they painted, re-painted, and painted over in a very dynamic and fluid manner.  The squares could be purchased as individual works of art, again indicative of the focus on sales.  However, the quality of this group’s work was very high, and the artists’ drawings, paintings, and stencils all worked very well together.

Aside from the Hatch Kingdom booth/room, most of the rest of displays were flat and stiff.  Objects on walls.  Way too much airbrush and cliche’d imagery.

I’ll write more later, b/c I need to go meet the students soon.

“The Man stickin’ it Back” as one of this post’s tags refers to The Money Man.

Alternative Berlin

At Spencer Homick’s suggestion, my SLU students — Kat Dwyer, Bridget Montesanti, and Charlie Reetz — and I signed up for a walking tour yesterday with a group called Alternative Berlin to see and learn about street art.  It was a great way to begin our two week journey — better than I expected, to be honest.  Our guide Mark was extremely well informed, not only of the “scene” itself, but also about the ways in which artists engage the community with their work.  He discussed street art as much more than mere decoration and/or defacement of the public environment.  The work we saw expressed commentary and critique regarding various social-political issues here in Berlin, Europe, and elsewhere.  I’m going to ask the students to choose one artist each and reflect upon and write about what they saw.  Prost, Just, Miss Van–I’ll need to check my notes to list some of the other artists.

We also went to the ATM Gallery to see an exhibition entitled Mutation by stencil artist Czarnobyl.

At the end of the day, Mark had everyone cut an 8-pieced stencil of a gorilla, and we spray painted it onto a piece of canvas to bring home with us.  The students loved it.

Antjie Krog

We heard back from Katharina Haverich at the Haus der Kulturen, and we’re signed up to read on Friday night.  Here is what she wrote:

There is a chance that by Friday June 4th (evening) we will be through with Gourevitch (read in German) and Sebald (read in German).

The later that day I’d schedule you and your students, the higher the chance we will have reached Krog (read in English).

My sense, from what I’ve read so far, is that this will not be performance as spectacle, but rather performance as a form of witnessing.  I’ll do more research and post again later.

The sticker scene yesterday was slightly disappointing in that most of what we came across was highly commercial.  Some antifa stuff here and there, but a lot of advertising and pop culture.  This shouldn’t be too surprising in that we were right in the heart of touristy Alexanderplatz and the Hakescher Markt

Rules of Evidence at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt

A program entitled Rules of Evidence will be presented at the Haus der Kulten der Welt during the first week of June when I’ll be in Berlin with three students to study street art. Curated by Okwui Enwezor, the project is “the first edition of a new biannual encounter at Haus der Kulturen der Welt that will feature five days of thematic programmes, conceived by a group of international filmmakers, curators, artists and theoreticians. A key component of the encounter is the critical re-evaluation of historical processes in the light of the contemporary moment. Also at stake is the role that images and strategies of representation, subsumed under the term ‘documentary,’ have acquired in present-day politics.”

SLU professor Obiora Udechukwu is a colleague of the well-known international curator Okwui Enwezor.

I saw on the HKW Web site that they are looking for readers to participate in a series of public readings that “involve throughout the entire forum live public readings from books on historic atrocities: W.G. Sebald, On the Natural History of Destruction; Antjie Krog, Country of my Skull; Philip Gourevitch, I Would Like to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will All Be Dead.”  I have written to see if my students and I could participate.  Obiora and Chika Okeke-Agulu (AKALA) will be in Berlin next week and now I know why.

Bomit presents “Giant Hype”

Not sure what’s up with this new Web site Giant Hype.

Their first post highlights Shepard Fairey’s mural at Karmaloop in LA.

There doesn’t appear to be any commentary on the new site yet.  Despite the success and glam, I like SF’s work a lot, indoors and outdoors.  Saw a great wheatpaste mural by chance in DC when I was there a couple of weeks ago.  Walking down the street towards Dupont Circle, hidden down an alley, and voila.  Lovely.

kittens inspired by kittens

There is something quite endearing about this silly  video.  Bow-wow chickie bow-bow.


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