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Allora & Calzadilla, How to Appear Invisible, 16mm film on HD, 2008
The two new works shown by Allora & Calzadilla are the latest in a series of commissioned works that extrapolate on the unfolding historical and social dynamic of the Schlossplatz, the site of the temporary kunsthalle.

Pleasingly, it is the large expanse of the Kunsthalle that is left essentially vacant, with the film work being installed (unfortunately poorly) the entrance area adjacent to the bookshop:

Allora & Calzadilla’s new work ‘Compass‘, 2009, conceived specifically for the Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin, creates a new spatial and acoustic experience. Dividing the Kunsthalle horizontally, a level is introduced, inaccessible to the viewer and reducing the grand exhibition hall to less than one third. Visitors can only hear the vibrations and sounds of an a capella dancer performing a choreography above their heads. The otherwise empty exhibition space is turned into a huge resonating chamber.
The film is quite beautifully shot on 16mm film, if a little indulgent and overly long in places, documenting the last days of the demolition of the Palast der Republik in late 2008. Its saving grace is its protagonist, a German Shepherd dog who is wearing a headcollar made from a plastic KFC bucket. His curiosity and interestedness, and that of the camera that follows him, distinguishes the film from so much other film work made in recent years that takes Berlin/ communism/ modernistic interiors as its subject and beautiful/melancholic as the mood for its sumptuous, elegant and detached panning shots. The KFC bucket, protecting the dog from licking his wounds, is presumably also a discomfort, an annoyance, and a hindrance to proper vision. However the metaphor isn’t overplayed, and as is typical of Allora & Calzadilla’s work, there is that unique and satisfying contrast between functionality and political poetry.
Exhibition at Temporäre Kunsthalle, Schlossplatz, Berlin-Mitte, July 11th til September 6th 2009

Tshirt spotted at the Venice Architecture Biennale: Obama is the New Black.

Artist Pablo Helguera has a new series of artoons being serialised over at Artworld Salon. Those familiar with his Manual of Contemporary Art Style will appreciate the slant.

Protest is Beautiful, FREEE, 2007

from Newsgrist, via Crooked Timber

Back to the Futura by John Holbo on July 26, 2008

So, about that Obama-in-Berlin poster.

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Arthur C. Brooks has written a great series of posts over at Freakonomics about personal happiness, according to politics, religion and the relative extremes of these beliefs. He’s recently published a book on Gross National Happiness.

Among his findings/ conjectures are that Conservatives Are Happier than Liberals

A commenter says:

One possibility that springs to mind: Perhaps people who label themselves as “extremely” liberal or “extremely” conservative are also more likely to call themselves “very” happy. That is, someone who uses immoderate terms to describe his political views might also use immoderate terms to describe his degree of personal happiness — and that might reflect a difference in rhetorical style rather than a difference in life satisfaction.

There’s a correlation here between happiness and faith, it seems.

Earlier in the year I was at a seminar for utopian studies where the issue of religion and utopian thinking arose (this was specifically in relation to science fiction literature, and ‘religion’ seemed a relatively disparaging term in the way it was used).

This led me to wonder, could being an atheist – or at least lacking a belief in the afterlife – lead to an inability to imagine the future?


A federal judge dismissed criminal indictments on Monday against an art professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo who was charged four years ago with mail and wire fraud after receiving bacteria through the mail that he said he planned to use in his art projects.

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This is a short and admittedly slightly random post based on a collection of observations about table tennis/ ping pong: I saw an exhibition in IMMA yesterday by Mark Clare and it seems that table tennis is the mode du jour to address geopolitical issues. Very zeitgesity.

There is a pleasing symnetry to it when you start to see it in an epic,East versus West, Communism versus Capitalism kind of way. After the jump, a short anthology of culturally important moments in table tennis. Contributions welcome…


1. An impoverished ping pong table collapses in the midst of a game among youngsters at Santa Anita assembly center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry, California, 1942. Image held here

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I just came across this work by Joseph Beuys while researching a Fluxus lecture… if I ever get around to it I resolve to compile a sizable selection of ‘defaced money’ artworks. This piece is from 1979.

The irony of this particular work is the large, iconic artist’s signature that takes pride of place on the face of the note. This authorial statement, the form of a defacement, enacts a particular economic alchemy (such a suitable word in relation to Beuys’ oeuvre): it elevates it even closer to gold and exponentially further away from any intrinsic ‘use value’.

Perhaps, to give him credit, this was Beuys’ intention. Often though, his critical gestures were weighted heavily in favour of his own self-mythologisation.


[I think this might actually be the thumb of Engels, not Marx.]

Berlin, December 2007

November 2020