Art can distract from stresses at hand. So that’s why, at first, the “Hast du von Bergen geträumt? II” alpine and mountain themed show is not a warm welcome as an escape from the frigid temperatures outside.
But the group show that just opened at the Czech Zentrum isn’t repetitive with its motif. The mix of media, and of course, the artists, keep the theme loosely in sight, yet pieces can stand on their own as inspired and deliberate. Julia Gaisbacher’s Francis am morgen (2013) reminds more of a pile of spilled organs than the snowy white-tipped mountains that some of the other artists depict. With a closer look, Gaisbacher’s six images retain a paradoxical holographic sheen that produces a haziness, despite the detailed wrinkled landscape in the images.
Also stunning in detail are Sinta Werner’s photo collages, Zwischen Lenggries & Schwarz. The images skirt between two and three-dimensionality. The black and white photos are pleasing on their own, but the multiple layers and snippets create subtle effects of depth. The layers are precise, some with intricate crimped folds, and others with the same image repeated in different sizes and depths.
Perhaps most exciting for those at the opening reception was the performance by collective Alpine Desire. The pair had set up a podium in front of the shelves of somewhat crude ceramic mountains, titled Mountain Amount (2013). Once the crowd had quieted down, people could line up at the podium, hear a short introduction to becoming a member of the Alpine Desire movement, and walk away with their own brown bag containing a numbered ceramic mountain and a certificate with the number of the object (there were only 100) they now owned.
The line extended to the back of the gallery, and people constantly peeked at the front to see if they had a chance of getting a mountain. What began as a shelf of crafts now became a necessity for the gallery-goers (including myself) to obtain.
Though the performance overshadowed the other works, it created a conversation among those who attended the reception. There were more interactions between people after the performance than beforehand, when everyone was perusing the gallery and murmuring at a low level. Perhaps this is the power of a gift, or the sense of a community, as all of those who stayed were the new Alpine Desire in-crowd, at least for the night.
More information about the exhibition:
Blog entry by AJ Kiyoizumi in Berlin; Tuesday, Feb. 04, 2014.