Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s exhibition ‘Floating on Silence’ at Setareh

In this video gallerist Samandar Setareh walks us through French-Iranian artist’s Sassan Behnam-Bakthiar’s second solo show at the gallery, ‘Floating on Silence,’ which opened on December 8. The show comprises 14 paintings of gorgeous garish colours that leave little room for words but stir up an instinctive pull to each one of the canvases. According to Setareh, there is a sense of magic, of unique attraction to the paintings, a flow of energy that makes them almost magnetic. The artist himself insists on the power of silence as a research practice that has profoundly inspired his work and approach to painting. Made of hundreds of layers of colours patiently applied and then scraped off, each one of his paintings captures the deep sense of awareness and self-knowledge Behnam-Bakhtiar has been able to achieve through meditation. Perhaps it is this spirituality, and all the more his ability to instantiate hybridity–having lived both in the West and the East, between France and Iran–that allows his art to speak to everyone.

Watch the video to get a glimpse of Sassan Behnam-Bakthiar’s energetic pieces or visit his exhibition at Setareh Berlin, on until January 14, 2023.

‘Next Wave,’ Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia

In their first ever collaboration, the Misk Art Institute from Riyadh and the Berlin Art Institute present works by eight emerging Saudi artists: Abdulmohsen Albinali, Abeer Sultan, Bashaer Hawsawi, Fatma Abdulhadi, Hana Almilli, Sara Khalid, Yousef Almana and Ziad Kaki.

Launched in 2021, the cooperation consists of studio-based residency programs at the Mahasa Residency, a Misk Art Institute in-house program and the BAI Residency Program at the Berlin Art Institute. ‘Next Wave,’ a group exhibition of the participating artists, is the culmination of this cultural exchange. Topics addressed by the artists include technology, determinism and notions of belonging. ‘Next Wave’ refers to the avant-garde and the unknown. In addition to the works of the Saudi artists, their research and documentation of their process is also on show.

Watch the video to see highlights from the opening during the 11th Berlin Art Week at the Neue Schule für Fotografie in September 2022.

Video by MONA productions. Produced by Anna Russ, filmed by Peter Cairns, edited by Talin Seigmann.

Simone Leigh in the U.S. Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale of Art

The sculptural work of the celebrated artist Simone Leigh explores ideas about history, race, gender, labor and monuments. For ‘Sovereignty,’ the exhibition in the U.S. Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale of Art, she has created a new body of work: sculptures in bronze, ceramic and raffia placed inside and outside the pavilion that highlight the often unseen and unacknowledged labor and resilience of Black women.

Leigh employs a strategy that she calls “the creolization of form,” combining disparate cultural languages linked through histories of colonization. With this series of works, she brings together references to 19th-century West African art, early Black American material culture and the colonial history of international expositions. The architecture of the pavilion itself has been "creolized" with the installation of a thatched roof, thus transforming the neoclassical building into a structure resembling a 1930s West African palace.

The exhibition’s title addresses notions of self-governance and independence⁠—both individual and collective. Leigh’s ‘Sovereignty’ is about authoring one’s own history and filling the gaps in the historical record by proposing new hybridities. With a singular visual language derived from vernacular architecture and the female body, using materials and processes associated with African and Afrodiasporic artistic traditions, she articulates a powerful and expansive view of the Black femme experience.

In this video, the pavilion’s co-commissioners Jill Medvedow (Ellen Matilda Poss Director, ICA/Boston) and Eva Respini (U.S. Pavilion Curator) speak about Leigh’s historic exhibition, which can be viewed from April 23rd to November 27th, 2022 at the Giardini della Biennale in Venice.

For more detailed information on the artist and the show, visit the 2022 U.S. Pavilion’s dedicated website.

Video by MONA productions. Produced by Monica Salazar and Kris Wilton (ICA/Boston). Filmed and edited by Peter Cairns. © The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston.

Studio Visit with Elmgreen & Dragset

This video was commissioned by Henie Onstad for their Art Channel ahead of their presentation of Elmgreen & Dragset’s work ‘Aids Is Good, Business for Some’ (2011/2022) across Norway via 736 Clear Channel digital advertising platforms. Elmgreen & Dragset will also show their series ‘Stigma’ in the exhibition ‘Every Moment Counts–Aids and Its Feelings’ on view at Henie Onstad from February 18, 2022.

Watch the video with the Berlin-based artist duo in their Neukölln studio, where they talk about their collaborative practice as well as their particular interest in the AIDS epidemic and its continued relevance today.

Video by MONA productions. Produced by Anna Russ, Filmed by Frank Zerban, Interview by Alison Hugill, Edited by Peter Cairns, Music by Frank Zerban

Guglielmo Castelli at Galerie Rolando Anselmi

Italian artist Guglielmo Castelli takes us through his exhibition at Galerie Rolando Anselmi in Berlin. The show presents his large-scale paintings alongside tapestries made in collaboration with Giovanni Bonotto. Drawing from his background in theatrical scenography, Castelli’s artistic interest revolves around the relationship between the body and the space. In his work, scenographic tensions emerge from intricate palimpsests of characters and decor.

Video by MONA productions. Produced by Esenija Bannan, filmed and edited by Greg Bannan.

Más Allá, el Mar Canta (Beyond, the Sea Sings) at Times Art Center

The group exhibition ‘Más Allá, el Mar Canta (Beyond, the Sea Sings)’ at Times Art Center Berlin explores the Chinese diaspora in Central America and the Caribbean as a starting point to consider systems of kinship and ontologies of encounter. Learn more about it in this video featuring participating artists Mimian Hsu, Anna Matteucci (Colectivo Hapa) and Zink Yi, along with the exhibition curator, Pablo José Ramírez.

Video by MONA productions. Produced by Monica Salazar, filmed by Peter Cairns and edited by Talin Seigmann.

Nicholas Grafia ‘Free Verse Spirit’ at Peres Projects

Peres Projects presented Free Verse Spirit, Nicholas Grafia’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. In this exhibition, which we documented as a walk-through video, Grafia invokes the free verse poetic tradition – a genre known for breaking down the structures and rules of poetry, moving the medium closer to vernacular speech.

Video created by MONA productions for Peres Projects. Produced by Monica Salazar, filmed and edited by Peter Cairns.

Exhibition Tour ‘Hella Jongerius: Woven Cosmos’ at Gropius Bau

Hella Jongerius takes us on a tour of her solo exhibition ‘Woven Cosmos’ at Gropius Bau, on display from April 29–August 15, 2021. At the heart of Hella Jongerius’s artistic practice is the connection between industry and craft as well as traditional knowledge and technology.

Video courtesy of Gropius Bau

Studio Visit with Roey Victoria Heifetz

We visited Roey Victoria Heifetz in her studio, where we discussed her artistic process and the work she produced for the exhibition ‘Figuratively Speaking’ at Am Tacheles. The exhibition is part of the series 054 hosted by Tapemodern and Am Tacheles and is curated by Amir Fattal.

Video by MONA, Produced by Monica Salazar, Filmed and Edited by Peter Cairns

Shota Nakamura ‘Dear Moon’ at Peres Projects

The video walkthrough of Shota Nakamura’s first solo exhibition at Peres Projects, ‘Dear Moon,’ showcases the artist’s bright and textured dreamscape paintings, delicately described by a disembodied voice. The exhibition is on view at Peres Projects, Berlin from March 12–April 16, 2021.