Article and photos by Devon Elise Atkins in Berlin // Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011
Everyone has different ideas about what happens when we die, every culture a different way of mourning or celebrating the life we have lived. A Wake opened to coincide with the Mexican tradition Lo Dia de los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead, and explores death and the afterlife from various perspectives in moving images. Ranging from morbid, to amusing, to horrific – the various video, film and digital media works share a common deadly interest. Some more challenging to watch, others providing a calming relief.
Entering the exhibition on the second floor of Bethanien House, a beautiful old building originally built as a hospital, a series of monitors inhabit the hallway, a hallway once inhabited by the sick and the dying. A bloody caricature of Diana, Princess of Whales, waves to us from one monitor, standing in some kind of white limbo land for royalty who cant forget their public, or perhaps in Diana’s case, cant forget what their public did to them. More monitors, more scenes of death, images from the Holocaust, particularly confronting in this unexpected context, yet perhaps reduced in their meaning surrounded by so many other videos, they become more about death among death.
Entering the main room, pretty corpses float on silk like ghosts, an animated spider weaves magic at our feet, beamed from above, and several other monitors and projections scatter the room. What is particularly interesting is the fact that the show uses time-based media to explore what happens when time stops. And yet there is so much going on, that as a viewer I am slightly overwhelmed about how to give each work the time needed to digest. A Wake is perhaps a little full, not giving the viewer enough space to contemplate, which is often a very important part of mourning. The exhibition shocks and it surprises, and contains works from several world renowned artists. It is definitely worth seeing, and runs until this Sunday.
YISHAY GARBASZ, NIKOLA LUTZ
ANNA BELLA GEIGER
Curated by: Rachel Rits-Volloch, Leo Kuelbs, Adam Nankervis