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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
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At this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, Belgium commemorated the 100th anniversary of its pavilion by building a facade around it; the viewer entered this steel structure towards the rear and walked through the building before exiting at the front and viewing the original facade.

This worked neatly to exhibit the building itself, the interior filled with confetti. (The title and tone of the work, After the Party, was uncannily reminiscent of the tone of various relational art projects). Curator Moritz Kung had assigned the following brief:

Give the existing building, as part of its immediate surroundings, an architectural use and function that can be experience on a scale of 1:1 with regard to its location (a public park), status (cultural embassy), history (of the Giardini) and/or context (an international platform for architecture). 

 

This was one of the most conceptually and visually elegant projects I saw at the Biennale.

Pavilion website

 

 

 

The curatorial premise of Adam Szymczyk and Elena Filopovic was of a ‘diurnal’ biennale, with an exhibition on show during the day, and different programmed events to happen every night. With four different venues, little or no information available on artists outside of the mediation programme, or labels on works, this strategy acknowledged and emphasised the partiality of the exhibition experience.

 

This was to be welcomed in some respects, as I found that I tried harder to engage with the work than I might normally do, especially considering that many of the artists were unknown to me. However, the flipside of this was that when you did get really interested in an artist or a given piece of work, it was difficult to find out more, or even to remember their name. Participating artists are not foregrounded on the biennale website which results of course in a presentation that is much more curator-centric than artist-centred. Which I suppose is not bad in itself, but I know what side my bread is buttered on.

 

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