With seven different artists all inhabiting a space that can be literally folded up and easily transported on the back of a truck, you would likely expect cramped chaos when entering REH Kunst. Instead, it is more reminiscent of a camping trip as a kid, welcomed by the smell of fresh wood and the tent-like, curved ceilings bends cozily close to your head–– this is not your typical “white cube”.
With a light, aluminum frame the structure is extremely portable, with 8 telescoping units that creates a spacious hall but can be scaled down to a width of only 2 meters. As a symbol of versatile GDR architecture, REH buildings just like this one were used at this time in various contexts from multi-purpose spaces on construction sites to cultural spaces and shops. The owner acquired it as the former GDR souvenir store Intershop after which it underwent an entire renovation. Others like it barely exist today; most were recycled, another is in the United States in a museum.
This means REH Kunst is one of only very few like it, and the only one in Berlin open to the public. If this isn’t enough reason to visit the space, the art exhibits and events it hosts should be. Currently: “Re-Made//Re-Used” and soon to come, Claus Larsen in April with his grinding machines that play with the potential of electro-technology as art. Then in August and July arrives “This Red Door”, an exciting project that had enormous success in New York creating a dialogue between audience and artists and their works. Currently, the space houses a collaboration of three curators: Valeska Hageney, Laura Haaber Ihle, and Marie Arleth Skov. Valeska and Marie have been a team at REH Kunst since January 2013, adding Laura to the group for this particular exhibit and marking the first joint collaboration in the space. Berlin Art Link was lucky enough to talk with Valeska and Marie about the space and its current exhibition, “Re-Made//Re-Used”.
Valeska, who has planned events in the space since 2011, explains how immediately popular the space was from the start, receiving many requests to exhibit. She confesses she couldn’t just rent the space out to anyone, though, since she always had certain ideas in mind. She believed the art must fit the space, the uniqueness of the hall. This first and foremost meant no hanging art, no painting or photography–– too traditional. What began with Valeska needing to be convinced really appears to have morphed into a passion to create a unique space where the art is in dialogue with the place and its history. The whole project feels rather serendipitous. Marie and Valeska didn’t meet under artistic circumstances; instead they met in the same French course. Now they have transitioned from simply friends to curatorial partners.
The idea for “Re-made//Re-used” fits perfectly to and came from the building itself, from its rebirth as an art space. As the room is repurposed, so is the artwork, comprised of everyday objects, trash, or industrial materials. Immediately Duchamp’s ready-mades come to mind, especially with this title. But these works are really an “aestheticizing reinterpretation” as its curators describe it. In this way, it moves away from simply re-contextualizing objects, but instead, remakes and manipulates them aesthetically.
As you walk into the current exhibition, your eyes are invited to follow a palpable relationship between three distinct pieces: first, resting upon a row of suction cups, the everyday objects barely recognizable wrapped in colorful string with a child’s craft-project playfulness, then comfortably moving downward toward Surya Gied’s floor installation made specifically for the exhibit. The linear movement makes a sudden pause here, as an orange line juts out from the piece, disturbing the linear trend. The procession moves to a final resting place on a graphic arrangement of colored squares, with of course, a clear pop of orange.
Themes and attitudes exist beyond just an orange line slicing through the space. A strong duality exists between the hard lines and strict geometries of the industrial materials of minimalist works such as “Standby” by Moritz Hirsch and destructive/rebuilding qualities of works by Madeline Stillwell and Christian Henkel. These clash against the playful elements of pimples and potatoes in works by Lars Bjerre and Phillipp Ricklefs or the irony of ‘filling out’ official forms (from socialist times found in an old publishing building in Belgrade) with blocks of lively colors by Marija Stanković. Visitors are guaranteed to find many more themes, contrasts, and connections in this unique combination of works. Go to the space–– exhibition running only until March 23–– and see for yourself.
“RE-MADE // RE-USED” – LARS BJERRE, SURYA GIED, CHRISTIAN HENKEL, MORITZ HIRSCH, PHILIPP RICKLEFS, MARIJA STANKOVIC, MADELINE STILLWELL
Exhibition: Mar. 14 – 23, 2013
Opening Reception: Wednesday, Mar. 13; 6pm
Kopenhagener Str. 17 (click here for map)
18.4.2013 – 28.4.2013
Opening Reception: Wednesday, Apr. 17; 6pm
An exhibition-series in three parts, presenting performance-based works.
Exhibition: May 15 – Jun. 23, 2013
KATARINA SEVIC, TEHNICA SCHWEIZ
Opening Reception: Wednesday, May 15
Opening Reception: Wednesday, May 29
Opening Reception: Wednesday, Jun. 12
“This Red Door”
Jul. 01 – Aug. 31, 2013
Sarah Gretsch is living in Germany since January 2012. Originally from the United States, where she pursued her Bachelor’s in Art history, she is now continuing her studies in Berlin.