Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Resume - the future of art in Berlin


Changes in the art scene of Berlin 2011 – 12

While the WEEKEND gallery constitutes an atmosphere corresponding somewhat to 'Stallgeruch' (barn smell - Thomas Mann) for all art considered to be an 'outsider', the new galleries underline a trend to exhibit art only in spaces which can be deemed to be sophisticated enough and set apart from anything else. Hence the latter are white and clean, indeed clinically safe. 
Removed is all the dust and the dirt of the streets. The art work is put on display in such an upgraded environment that the background bears no witness to reality. In that sense, it is not a neutral space but rather designed to empower the imagination to speak all by itself. Naturally that imagination is encapsulated in art works, framed or not. They can be made to appear as highly sophisticated installations or else be shown because they have gained already value in the past. The latter value is due to having realized something over time as having been a true expression of those times and due to being expressed within a certain form e.g. German Expressionism.  
The odd contradiction of displaying the arts within such spaces is that while addressing the imagination, it is really meant to en-capture the imagination, in order hold the trend. Once that trend has been established, it is a matter of the gallery in combination with the collectors and other buyers to hold that trend on a steadfast course. That is very much akin to a captain steering the boat through rough waters on a windy day.

Investment in the arts
By extension, it means investment in the arts is akin to what has the potential to gain in value over time. The distance in need to be covered does not matter so much as what circumstances determine this valorization of the arts. Here the time of crisis comes into play. If investments are no longer safe, gold also unstable, then money is put into the arts. That act is based on the reasonable belief they have a lasting value over time and thus the risk to loose in value is minimum. Here has to be added an understanding of how value is created and when money is put forth to buy a painting. 
Definitely one point of transition is when a collector decides to transform everything by having his or her collection be housed from now on in a museum. This transition from gallery to collector to museum describes a time line along which an art work acquires a different status. For sure, any artist has also a much more stable background if there are collectors who are interested in his works as he evolves and changes over time. Therefore, the role of the collector has to be recognized in this undertaking to seek and to establish values which cannot be relinquished so easily. 
Another variation of the same is when a foundation with lots of money seeks to promote the arts through a special curator who has a degree of freedom to decide who to promote. This may take place under the heading of relative unknown artists. It is then like all appeals to the senses a matter of what makes a difference between eventual success and huge success. The risk taken but also artists speculated upon to improve over time, it reflects the fact that investments in the arts and in certain artists can pay off in the long run. 
There are, of course, many solutions being offered in between and along this course of action different galleries undertake a variation of efforts to make their concepts become explicit i.e. known to the ongoing and rapidly changing art market. This is crucial for those who seek primarily orientation from the art market as to what shall be the future direction of the arts. Here a certain trade off between the autonomy of the artists and the autonomy of the art market takes place, or rather, it is inter exchangeable with neither side really knowing what are the determining factors. If not popular taste nor aesthetic theories can determine completely and alone the direction, then it might be considered an open question of how responsive is the entire art market to the newcomer or new work?  If it is not a Picasso who had his break through already at the age of 21, then it might be a new genre of art which has managed to refine purpose and structure in the subtle shade of the red sun - to use an image. That is to say art needs to settle into a certain mode or symbol before being recognized as successful. In the case of Matisse it was the relationship between the parts and the whole, in the case of Picasso it was the dove with a direct link to Matisse (see here the forthcoming exhibition at the Tate Liverpool in 2012). 

The encaptured imagination

But to come back to the enraptured imagination in the art works put on display in these galleries, there is a contradiction between realizing the power of the imagination and in wishing to encapsulate the imagination in finite art works. For it becomes a crucial matter whether or not there is left empty space to allow for any alternative and for a comparison as to what can be seen hanging on the wall? Some would say every positive (occupied) space needs some negative space where emptiness does promise such an alternative, but one waiting like the second actor for the first one on stage to fall, in order to take his place. But the replacement logic does not work strictly according to the method of displacement, even though one could call Rembrandt's paintings a murder of any other picture. It does not allow any other painting beside it. 
Closer to this logic of displacement came Andre Malraux when he speaks about the dream of every artist to have his own imaginary museum in which his best painting hangs next to all his favorite paintings, and from which he derived all his impulses and inspirations. Still, Picasso feared Matisse. There is no telling what other fears kept silent draw nevertheless invisible walls in-between this and that painting! Equally so the eyes of the visitor to the gallery can be prevented from comparing the one with the other only to maintain the illusion of each art work being unique - sui generis. 
Altogether this then goes into the art of hanging pictures. It is often the task of the curator who knows it makes a difference in what sequence something is hung, and if at all every phase of the artists needs to be shown in order to present a cross section rather than just one particular phase. It matters if the artist is presented in a single way or else as someone who is diversified enough to work in different fields with other materials: stone, charcoal, drawing, oil painting. The crucial criterion to judge seems to be the fear not to be taken serious by the audience. Again that concern implies that any presentation is out to en-capture the imagination, so that the focus is really on something specific and not on something general. A free roaming spirit would be regarded for this reason as highly disturbing not only for the eye, but for the gallery owner wishing to sell some, if not all of the art works on display. Yet as long as this contradiction between wishing to free the imagination and en-capturing it to make a purchase of the art work come through, the matter of how to retain an open approach to art remains unresolved, at best an art all to itself. Altogether these new galleries level finally in what is called the 'latest state of the arts'. In following this inclination, they not only risk but actually reduce the dialogue with the art work to a chiffre expressed more in financial than in any other term. 

What silence silences what trend

The silencing of the imagination should not be overlooked. This silencing can be taken as the power behind the kind of conversations about the arts as supported by these galleries. Such a guided approach to the arts reinforces a certain trend. It is a well informed, indeed a knowledgeable one. Yet if it is to be established as a trend, it has to be linked to an acclaimed success. This needs to be done by all kinds of promotion, in order that this certain trend can reproduce itself at other locations e.g. in Zurich, Venice, New York etc. One example for this may be the showing of Jonathan Borofsky both at the 'sidebyside' gallery in Berlin and at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in the USA. By linking tradition of art based on dealing with the subject 'eroticism' to a contemporary artist acclaimed world wide, global art as business is established in the midst of Berlin.
However, risk can also mean a kind of trivialization of the arts. This is especially the case when linked to some kind of action. For example, an action up on a mountain was acclaimed as the making of art equals a performance at the opening of a group exhibition on Nov. 25th in the Löwenpalast. The moderator opted for the role of a talk show master and introduced the curator with highly flattering tones but indicated as well a prevailing hierarchy of values when mentioning besides other aspects that she has a 'Ph. D' and comes from Austria. He then went to praise her for having initiated such a novel artistic action since it took place up on a mountain. The concept was to keep for two weeks artists and participants together in that mountain hut as if the other side of the arts was comparable to a survival training. Michel Foucault would say sometimes differences in reflections are only possible within the normal schemata by attempting a little variation of the same. But somehow such an action reaching for the unusual and sensational although mainly trivial mixes endurance testing with exercising ones patience to the extreme. This is especially the case when something is being proclaimed as being an artistic action while the audience remains confused what this art is really about?  There is no need to remind here that to this question of the audience Duchamp answered in a much more convincing way. He simply came up with his empty bottle rack. Yet that kind of opening up an imaginary space to fill in the gap is no longer in, so it appears. Instead the space is occupied by trivial objects declared as make-up art along the way or through the action itself. 
It seems the art scene has become more confused about its own role. More and more experiences are made that knowledge or rather 'know how' (derived from marketing techniques) about the arts risks to be disseminated along typical or even worse stereotypical lines of thoughts. This is especially the case, if everything is done to present the arts in an unusual, indeed sensational light, and this with the sole aim to heighten the fever and to make everyone eager to buy, if not to consume a painting. And if not a painting, then there have to be made available special objects to take home, objects which are more affordable and perhaps a derivative of the special prepared actions e.g. artistically ornamented cushions! That was the case at the Löwenpalast which transformed the art exhibition into a X-mas bazaar and left everyone wondering how to deal with such a colorful mixture.  
Given this risks to lose sight of the need for a context of understanding and indeed critical reflection of the new arts, then it is to be most welcome when the new galleries offer an atmosphere in which one can sober down and is not at all pressed to consume i.e. buy anything when entering these spaces. 
It may well be that the legacy of this method of silencing the imagination may be more confusing than the shimmer of hope to be seen in between broad daylight and the darkest of all nights, that is when putting doubt first and the art work on the wall next to empty space as place for doubt. For when it comes to seeing what things lie ahead in near and not so distant future, then reflection of an art work does still rely on entering the painting with the imagination to take up a dialogue. As Andrej Woron would say if the glance just passes over the painting and is not halted to stay, then it is usually not a very good piece of work. Equally Chagall mentioned art works exist to let the colours work over time to take on different shapes and thereby becoming poetic enough to speak to the imagination as to the meaning of a kiss. 
If this trend to trivialize things would go, however, ever more in the direction of mere gimmicks, then it would trap people by seducing them to follow a fake receptivity of the arts. This is what can be experienced, generally speaking, at many openings. If the case, then such pretense would never be far away from what German Expressionism had already tainted Berlin with, namely as a world in which whores and capitalists intermingle to spin a web of lies about not only life in the city but what kind of art pretends to depict if not this life then an alternative to being trapped in a web of lies. After all art does promise to free the imagination! Obviously not every art does achieve this and here then begin the real differences as to what speaks to humanity, what not. 
At the time of Otto Dix and George Grosz, that is in-between the wars, art provoked an outcry and led to its defamation by the ideological followers of Hitler. A key argument leveled then against modern art was that it would destroy the 'creativity of the people'. Such justification of suppression of the arts the like of Paul Klee has to be kept in mind and put into proper context. Paul Klee always said abstraction is the result of having experienced during First World War the complete destruction of beauty, so that any wish to paint it must rely on memory of experiences of beauty made previous to the war, and, therefore, by relying solely on memory and not immediate experience would make, so his conclusion, any artistic expression thereof by necessity 'abstract'. It seems that most of the art works on display refer to that transition from Expressionism to Abstract Art without yet becoming concrete themselves enough to free the imagination in the present. This is because they are encapsulated themselves, fore mostly technically speaking but also subject wise. The thematic approaches seem altogether very limited in scope and issues as if some Reductionism is invisibly at work.

Bridging the gap

Coming back to Paul Klee and his abstract paintings, his search for beauty and expressed as such was not readily understood by people during that time. This gap was bridged by Herbert Walden when he exhibited Paul Klee for the first time in Berlin. He did so under one clear condition, namely that he was free to give Paul Klee's paintings not just any, but a 'poetic' title. Thus apart from the painting itself and what frame it has, there is the importance of having a title which can make a huge difference in the receptivity of this art work. There is, for instance, one image Paul Klee painted in abstract lines of a boy racing down a hill on a roller, one leg stretched out like the tongue as daring gesture and with only one hand on the handle bar. The German title 'Übermut' (over zealous or not cautious enough) says it all. It does matter how the arts communicate or rather are helped in this matter by the galleries and curators in order to reach the audience. 
With this example of Herbert Walden giving titles to the paintings of Paul Klee in mind, the question is but where does poetry come in today? When looking around in these gallery spaces, the very absence of poetry can be noticed. As a matter of fact, it seems to mark the art scene in Berlin despite the active presence of the Literatur Werkstatt and other organizations and institutions promoting poetry. Crucial is after all whether or not poetry  becomes audible when the dialogue with images is taken up! At the same time, it becomes crucial if poetry succeeds in going beyond the image. There are some attempts in this direction to be noted, fore mostly by John Ashbery, a poet who puts his collages on display at the Nagy gallery in New York. The gallery specializes on that dialogue. Equally is well known the work by the poet Guilio Stocchi in Milano. He works constantly with painters to create something together when letting his poems evolve out of particular situations.  
Then, given this to be the age of images per say, another question is but how will these arts on display in Berlin deal with the challenges of the digital age? With poetry amiss, no wonder if there is too much silence ruling in those galleries. As if representative of our times, the very absence of such lyrical stances as 'born to be free!' or else what Bob Dylan could sing about the coming of the hurricane, that says a lot about the silence in painting! 
After all the arts are there to enrich people's self understanding so that they can deal with the situations they live in or experience. If the arts do not pick up the daily experiences made by people on their way to work, then art works by pass that important challenge. 
Adorno started his aesthetic reflections with that most obvious point, namely that the only thing which is self-understood is that nothing is self-understood. If that is to be taken seriously, the arts will have to devote as well their time to uncovering the 'unknown knows'. The economist Paul Krugman uses such a term when noting how many people refuse to acknowledge a real economic crisis in the making. Thus they end up dealing with the known as if 'unknown'. Here the arts must reveal this if only to stay in touch with human reality.
However, if art works join instead this denial of reality as something known, they negate the need to reflect the hidden assumptions. They will then be unable to link things and express it in a most obvious or simple way! Over complication is a reflection of having gone astray. Complexity is often misunderstood especially by those who wish to break out of simple schemes while in search of some magic formula in order to claim that they know more than others about what sustainability is all about. Simple truths are not what is self assumed but complexity something which is no longer tenable. Thus there is a need for an acknowledgement that reality has shifted in the meantime, in order to make possible a creative leap. Such is the art which gives freely an indication as to what is the proper course for humanity to take. That then is like a poem. The poet as well as the artist know when the work has been made. It is complete without assuming to be ever complete.
Without these simple truths, the arts risk ending up being elevated to a level where human self consciousness is no longer audible nor can be addressed. On the other hand, it would mean critical receptivity is like listening in when the imagination enters a dialogue with the reality of a painting or art work. It becomes then a matter of trusting ones intuition and senses while letting go of normed speeches and typical or categorical ways to understand things. Already a long time ago R.D. Laing in his poems called 'knots' stated life is all about finding such a love which allows the undoing of those knots. But as long as this poetic way of understanding art works is marginalized, there will not be formed a real aesthetic discourse about the arts in Berlin. That seems only to be possible once the art scene has found its own voice and the galleries can conjoin in an overall reflection of what does and shall influence the direction the arts will take in the 21st century.

From social communication to human scream Certainly Boudewijn Payens as artist knows about the notion of social communication and hence he is perceptive of what are poetic notions as much as interpretations of sounds and signs coming suddenly together when drawing with a finger on a fogged up window some signs and only then poetry is in the air once perceived as such. But if Berlin as a city is just a lie, then nothing has changed from the past. Here a lot more work needs to be done to see if a difference can be made by these newcomers: the art galleries. Some of them relate to German Expressionism as a well acclaimed tradition in modern painting. This tradition can be linked to a wish to just scream, even if in vain. This can be said in view of so many lies fortifying the system as such. Yet after Picasso included in his Guernica painting the human scream, one only audible when the self finds itself in an intimate space, that is all alone, and never to be heard really by anyone else, then the 'human scream' cannot be the sole reference point of art in the twenty-first century. Of interest is here what art students of the class of Prof. Monique Kissel attempted at the University of Saint Denis when they picked up the Kids' Guernica action. One student did take videos of individuals screaming all by themselves within that intimate space. Modern technology makes possible to bring out something hidden till now. This experience had many ramifications for the students involved. One of it was the realization that 'painting together was as difficult as living together!' That showed both in the mural they had painted together and what individual art works resulted as part of the process when they exhibited these results in Vincennes, Paris in October 2010. Another silence to be found in places However, there is this deafening silence which has smothered the scream, or to put it more poetically, the scream itself has been wounded in the meantime so much, that nothing can be heard. Indeed, it seems as if no more sounds can be heard as to distinguish between merely stuttering out some words and what could be called a faint scream. If that is the case, and most of the arts do acknowledge this, then following testimony covers everything like a blanket of snow. It attests to the fact that in silence everything converges and this silence differs from that of the past. Michel Foucault hinted at this dilemma insofar as he spoke in his book dealing with the history of insanity about the need to discover the places of silence before the lyrical protest covers them up. This does pose the question if painting finds itself in a race against time to discover these places so that the dialogue of the imagination can be heard before the lyrical protest moves in, often unaware of this competition between image and words? There prevails still that slogan a picture can say more than a thousand words! Does that hold still today? Someone who tries to give an answer to this is Marin Karmitz who compiled art works under the title 'Silences'. This included works by Dieter Appelt, Georg Baselitz, Christian Boltanski, Alberto Giacometti, Robert Gober, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Tadeusz Kantor, On Kawara, Joseph Kosuth, Chris Marker, Mario Merz, Annette Messager, Juan Munoz, Bruce Nauman and Martial Taysse. His project was based on viewing artistic practices emerging after Second World War and reaching into the seventies. They seem to have all in common a proposition of a new genre in order to introduce speech, the written word and sound into the 'silence of painting.' See „Silences, A statement by Marin Karmitz at Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art“ in ArtDaily.org Monday, 2 January 2012 http://www.artdaily.com/index.asp?int_sec=11&int_new=30343&int_modo=2) However, if children can discover in painting a common language which their own languages do not allow when Greek youth attempts to communicate with Turkish children and students, then there does exist an alternative to Chomsky's assumption about every language having an universal structure by which it is possible to learn yet any other language. This notion of universal language has been discussed between Chomsky and Piaget, but has not caught on as of yet. This is especially the case when confronted by a particular and special silence made audible by those who do let human language touch them and alter their course of action as is the case with 'terrorists'. If only their silence could be overcome by them hearing the paint brush going over the canvas to make them laugh, then it would invoke that sense of everyone standing close to an artist at work, and realizing he is free of the fear to betray his own painting by taking recourse to words to explain something in the painting, in his work. Naturally one way to untie the knot of language and silence is to pose a different question altogether, in order to allow another interpretation of what can be seen and not heard although not deaf. That difference between painting and poetry can mean altogether another kind of thematization of the silences prevailing in the 21st century world. If anything, silence may equally reflect uncertainty what constitutes the arts? Even Picasso was suspected of being just a fake artist and when he allowed a monkey to make a drawing to which he added only his signature and others immediately seizing upon it as a great art work, then it fed also the skepticism prevailing amongst the more traditional recipients of the arts when facing modern art. It showed that in the twentieth century no one was really attuned to fine nuances between someone being just a bit honest compared to those people who were really honest but could not make any art works themselves. Today the role of the artist has changed as it encompasses as well performance. Once stretched out to include even activities in a circus or technically speaking to the performance of a motor in a racing car entering the Formula One circle of entertainment, then it is luxury gone galore and even over board in an attempt to be still convincing. It is by definition linked to a single definition of success when it has a massive following and when there is lots of money involved. That brings everything back to the simple notion of the art circuit in which to move might be wise in case arrival and destiny, especially it if coincides with the notion of departure points for the arts being linked nowadays with these professional art galleries. Art in an indifferent world So who arrives there is but the opening to new forms of entering into a different art world. Here comes into play the art of making a difference within these gallery spaces to what is usually the case outside of their spheres of influence when it comes to the receptivity and promotion of the arts. One philosophical thesis could be applied according to the French sociologist Baudrillard: people experience the world as being indifferent to them, hence they come to a point when they wish for a transformation. Often this point is reached after having played for too long love as a game designed to merely seduce the other and once enticed by this to silence that person as to make any dialogue about the conditions of realizing this love impossible. If this model of reflection was to be transposed to what art galleries attempt to do, namely to entice people by seducing them into a game of receptivity of the arts, then the dialogue of the imagination through the art work would not be promoted, but rather the contrary would take place. It would prevent the art works to free the imagination to question reality by en-capturing the imagination in mere images, symbols and messages. It would be the collateral damage incurred in gallery spaces no longer free enough to handle human reality in such terms as they could enhance and deepen the understanding of human nature and how to deal with such phenomenon as fear of a world gone astray. If that is the case, there would be a need for getting out of any single mindedness. For only the showing of true alternatives can let people interact with the arts, in order to seek the freedom they need to question reality as it is being presented to them by the news, advertisement, modern forms of propaganda and techniques designed to silence memories of other realities. Naipaul showed how silencing of memories is brought about by the conversion logic. Once people manipulate and lie about their own personal histories, then will no longer have access to a memory base which is different and still independent from the big determinants of the present. That then would be giving up the private and personal as a historical dimension needed if one is able to make it to the top if trapped in a cave like setting where only images dominate according to Plato. If such a stepping into a world of beauty makes all the difference, then the galleries can tap into a source of strength of the making of art which evokes the imagination and allows at the same time to see the world in more realistic terms. It would be made evident by beginning to imagine other realities, lived as well as not yet lived and therefore experienced ones. Therefore, such art would let the recipient feel to be no longer single determined, as if trapped in this and only reality awaiting one once having left the gallery space and stepping out in the streets to be in 'that' world again. Something will have changed due to having strengthened that conviction in the imagination and in the realization beauty does exist. If art and therefore an empowerment of the imagination has to do with resistance, then the true task is not to succumb to global capitalism even in the art world. Yet that risk of encroachment is given. Thus crucial would be to see what these art galleries manage in opposition to the most obvious trends. They could only do so if they are willing to alter this empowerment of the imagination right now solely for the sake of money and instead let it become force in support of free artistic expression. Artistic freedom confined to specific art spaces Martin Jay connected artistic freedom with the need to understand that there is a difference to freedom of speech and of one's own opinion. Artistic freedom needs a definite level or stage on which artistic expression can be the reciprocal force of that freedom. For instance, "I shall kill you" makes sense on stage when playing Shakespeare; the same sentence alters meaning when stated on the street, during rush hour, amongst common people. Too many artists have made that mistake by going to the street level they thought to become political. The stage is still needed for distinguishing a theater play from what is often confused with acting out things in real life. Once that otherness is missing, misunderstandings start to creep in. The same goes for the arts. The art galleries make that difference. Their spaces enhance and empower the arts as altogether the art galleries give to Berlin a new dynamic and important chance to empower the imagination. How far that shall go, this will be seen in the years to come and what decisions everyone makes in due course of subsequent interactions but new art works making their way into these spaces. Right now many play it safe by going back to sixties and seventies, something Herbert Dis tel has already captured in his collection of 500 artists from that said time period in the 'Museum of Drawers'. Aside from Rothko, Picasso, Man Ray and many others, there will be needed to identify still other trends not yet so easily identifiable, but already visible in the extent to which these galleries experiment and work together with their preferred and selected artists. But to come back to this contradiction, if galleries are not sure what would captivate if not the general public, then the mind of some specific types of people, then they are tempted to work with no other method than seeking 'selective seclusion'. That is a way of distancing themselves from the rest of the world i.e. other galleries and their policies and concepts. But by striking a chord (or discord) with the most contemporary themes, they will adopt only certain artists and above all embrace those who are not at all sure in how they will address these issues of aesthetics, ethics, politics and cultural development. If anything characterizes this disposition towards only certain artists many of which wait for their works to be shown, then a tendency towards a certain kind of 'innocence'. That may cover both efforts to stay away from corruption charges and ways of staying out of trouble by not articulating so clearly one's opinion. The latter would safeguard the general slogan: 'live and let live!' There are by now so many artists that the 'subjective' factor, the revolt, can become an ingrained typical role played out not due to natural disposition, but out of a wish to give back a favor to the 'normal world'. This difference is bridged by a common saying, 'if you wish to talk about money, go to the artists; if you wish to talk about the arts, go to the bankers!' So who is more greedy or provocative at one and the same time, if not the artist, then which figure in society at the beginning of the twenty-first century? Back to Adorno and Benjamin or the figure of revolt in a new enlightenment Adorno admired and questioned Benjamin's figure 'the flaneur'. For Adorno as shown in his letter exchanges with Benjamin, it was not yet so apparent where those contradictions would take the people of those times. He foresaw that these contradictions would be silenced if a figure like the 'flaneur' would play but a specific role and not let him handle issues like consumption and over consumption. Yet Adorno foresaw the material condition in which that contradiction is rooted can take the entire society into a wrong direction, and if no corrective principle could be applied, then it would lead to war. That was indeed the case once Hitler took over power in Germany 1933. As to the contemporary world with all the concern about climate change, the role of the arts has become a kind of new enlightenment. For Eco-artists attempt to bring about a new educational vision on how to deal with nature and its elements like water. From there the materialization of an idea takes on the form not so much of an art work per say, but is like Beuys understood it an action which gives meaning to the various elements and materials. The art work is itself a tension field created by the action as to link perception with concepts gathered together by acting out something e.g. moving black boards over the floor and then selecting one to be put on a scaffold to become like a blackboard in a class room. Tableaus or chiffres were spread out on the floor. Beuys had in mind that risk of the imagination being silenced by a talk about art but one which would not live its demand for freedom to express itself finally as alternative to the lived reality. A fleeting shadow of an imagination visible for just seconds during a brilliant insight made possible by questioning both the perception and the concepts, that could be called then 'a dance with reality'. Movements stir the imagination especially when birds take off from a quiet lake to fly South. The French sociologist Baudrillard seems to think in a world where people desire a transformation since they are met by indifference, that seduction shall be at work rather than letting be lived uncertainties. Not seen is that uncertainty enriches the imagination. Translated into art, it would mean following the aesthetic principle of acting out certainty till uncertainty is reached. It would mean to leave behind in earnest that split between perception and concept. Once uncertainty can be reached and held out as a tension field spilling over onto the canvas, then art would become a resistance against a certainty which is deadly in this kind of reality. As a matter of fact, certainty is the most deadly force which can be directed easily against the arts. Even though people are invited to come in from the streets and to step into these pronounced spaces, the art world itself seems unaware as to what traces people leave behind. This is especially the case when people leave again the gallery space and step back into the crowded streets, but did not buy an art work nor left their name in the address book, in order to be informed more about past, current and future activities of that gallery. Whether some transformation in the mind took place during that short visit, who knows. The imaginative power of contemporary art These are not mere impressions of an imaginative power at work, a power reinforced by these exceptional gallery spaces, but an exception to the rule so much that there is at risk the breath is taken away, so to speak, and instead of silence a new language begins to articulate knowledge about the arts. Whether or not these are made in the most sophisticated way or just in a simple language, the fact that it is knowledge accompanying the selling of art works makes it understandable all the more intriguing when engagement, youthfulness, innovativeness, happiness, etc. combine to ferment feelings about this new world of the galleries. Nothing is ruled out as long as there is this openness and wish to risk a new artist coming in from the street and therefore in need to be distinguished from the usual visitors. For recognition of new developments is something the general public entrusts to gallery and they want this to be shown to them by putting the latest art works on display. In that sense the message given by the gallery 'contemporary art' towards the end of the year 2011, and in anticipation of 2012, is very much to the point of injecting into this space something most obvious and yet at the same time rarely noticed. The message reads as follows:

"ALL ART HAS BEEN CONTEMPORARY (Maurizio Nannucci) - with this timeless statement, we look back on a rewarding year and we wish you a reflective and serene time surrounding Christmas and the start of 2012.


The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston opened their 'Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art' in September and Nannucci's light installation was selected as a central artwork for the main entrance hall.


Fresh into the new year, we look forward to welcoming you at the exhibition Mattner's 70s Works which will lead the gallery's exhibition programme. The show presents a comprehensive selection of early works by the artist where he explores the subtleties of the twilight zone hovering between night and day ..."


Ralf Hänsel


Berlin (Tiergarten)


 Empirical matters better left till next time as first conclusion

When seeing these new art galleries converge and disperse just like birds do, the terms under which art is being displayed, explained, sold and traded may become more distinctive i.e. recognizable with time. Right now it is too early to tell in which directions things shall head altogether.
While in need of further elaboration, clearly these new art galleries have tremendous ramifications. Above all people shall become ever more orientated only towards such art works which are sold at a high prize. This reminds of the critical question posed by Marianne Wagner from 'Freies Museum'.
One gallerist stated the most obvious factor why this is so: "a lot of money is involved". And he repeated it just to make sure we heard it well: "a lot of money!" It explains as well the high attraction Berlin enjoys amongst both artists and art buyers of all kinds. The same gallerist mentioned that in 2011 the cultural forum closed. He regrets this decision by the politicians of Berlin. For what could reflect overall tendencies in Berlin, if not such a meeting place where everyone does come together to not merely promote one’s favorite artist or sell newest works but to see what happens elsewhere at the same time. Somehow Berlin will miss out on reflecting the aesthetic implications of these professional galleries and what knowledge about the arts they know how to substantiate. As said, selling art is a hard business and every gallerist has to know what one is doing with the art one prefers to exhibit and therefore to sell at a definite price. Important is the feeling that all the galleries we visited everyone was forthcoming to explain concept of the gallery, the artists on display and what is an important link to further discoveries, namely to remain open to new suggestions and artists of the next generation already with 28 in search of their youth when compared to Picasso who was already at 21 an artist with world wide acclaim. Coming back to one gallery where the owner explained to us why she loves this Swiss artist on display, then because to her this painter takes the risk to leave a huge space nearly in silence, just breathing softly, in order to hear the touch of a soft brush. As this perception of the newest art scene in Berlin wishes first of all to get to know what has started to exist in Wedding or Neukölln aside from distinctive areas like Potsdamerstraße or Charlotten-Rudi Dutschke Street, it does not link up to how in political discussion envision the future of a city like Berlin. That political discussion is linked to 'cultural industries' or 'creative sector'. Some mayors argue even with reference to someone like Richard Florida's concept of 'creative cities'. To all something more has to be said in view of what is happening in Berlin 2011-2012. For artists do fulfill on their own terms what cultural planners view as prerequisites for having active art scenes making up the urban fabric, that is something else. Here the example of Thomas Monses underlines the fact how important it is to have simple and inexpensive space available to just work as you like at whatever hour and with other artists just around the corner there for a chat whenever needed. A vibrant city cannot be sold to the highest bidder as it is created by those who make things possible. By the same token, it says a lot for Berlin when compared to other places, that there the gallery owners are honest enough to tell to a young artist their customers are too conservative to buy such a work, but he should try it in Middle Berlin where he will find gallerists who are willing to take risks. This means orientation and innovation combine to take in ever more artists coming to Berlin to try their luck. Even renowned artists are said to have moved from London and elsewhere to Berlin with the main reason being that there is still a lot of space to be had at relative inexpensive prices. And with such risk goes a newly found freedom to exhibit new, until now unknown artists. To say the least, it can and does enhance the innovative potential of that location. Hatto Fischer 4.12.2011



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