Sunday, September 30, 2007

Art Forum Berlin Part 2

For Part 1 of this topic, see the post below.

Gallery Franco Soffiantino, Turin: This Pantone cone was maybe five feet across

Also from Gallery Franco Soffiantino, Turin: People cases

From Jan Winklemann Gallery, Berlin: see closeup of the glasses, below

Jan Winklemann Gallery, Berlin: Glasses presumably "after" the photos
There was a lot of drawing at the show. I am particularly interested in this because that's what I'll do when I'm here:

This, from Ursula Walbröl Gallery, Dusseldorf: an exquisitely cut and hung lacy paper sculpture.

Closeup of the paper.

Art Forum Berlin

This big art fair, held in an exposition center like those we have in the states, blows Art Chicago out of the water. Mostly european, the theme of the show is "About Beauty" and as the title infers, there is plenty to see. Beauty yes, pretty, not always. The breadth of concept and execution and the mix of knowns and unknowns made for a 4-hour tour that left me exhilarated, not exhausted. A sample of galleries and the works that I thought were the most interesting/ useful to me:

From Arndt & Partner, Berlin: my favorite exhibitor. Each artist has a strong concept and the pieces are also visually "beautiful."

From Arndt & Partner, Berlin: "Goddess with the Head of a Phallus"

From Arndt & Partner, Berlin: both pieces are made of pigskin. The wall piece, pig hair intact, is made of the Louis Vuitton logo in pattern.

Ellen de Bruijne Projects/Akinci, Amsterdam: This artist interests me because of the visual tactility of the slick plastic surfaces. Also there is something seductive about the stacking of the canvasses in a cartoonish way. It seems mechanical/industrial and tactile/random at the same time.

Anita Beckers Gallery, Frankfurt: This butter sculpture takes on a serious subject: classical sculpture. Or does it...

From Frehrking Wiesehöfer, Koln: These paintings on plastic seems to practically drip off the wall.

I have to finish this tomorrow. I have more work to do tonight. There are many more photos to come.

Kreuzberg and Prenzlauerberg

Kreuzberg is the neighborhood just to the west of the former wall, and Prenzlauerberg is the one to the east. It has been a couple of days since we took the tours, and I want to write about Art Forum Berlin, so I will just give you some pictures to enjoy:

Bread at an open air market

Closer... buy some now to take home...

All groceries are organic here.

A street in Prenzlauerberg

A pre-war synagogue in Prenzlauerberg. We were there on Shabbat, and heard singing through the windows. It was not destroyed by the Nazis because it shared walls with adjacent buildings. Shabbat Shalom!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Day 3 - Köpenick and Friedrichschagen

The L4 school where I am teaching my classes is in this fabulous art nouveau building. I didn't get a photo of the facade, but will post one in the near future. The school is very impressive and I am inspired to redesign my teaching site because their work makes mine seem dowdy and out of date. Well, it probably is. I also plan on spending a lot of time with Drupal. L4 website. Here is a shot of the courtyard of the L4 school.

Having re-read my Berlin book, I realized that I had merely taken the wrong turn in Köpenick on Wednesday. Map in hand, I persuaded a few others to come with me to see where the Spree meets the Dahme. Founded in 800, what we saw resembled somewhat a resort town complete with a Best Western. But the old buildings were still there and we had our first real German (not Italian or mishmosh) meal. Karen and I had Gulaschsuppe. Emily and Robert A. had schnitzel, and Robert J. had a pork dish... here is a picture of the Rathaus that I thought was a church. It's really a historic building and you can read about it online if you're interested.

Karen, Robert A, and Emily got all PRACTICAL and asked tourist information where to find the Müggelsee (not in Köpenick, but I knew that). So we took a strassenbahn to Friedrichshagen, where even in the greyscale of the day the Müggelsee had a certain charm. Here is a photo of the group at the lake:

Finally, we went to the historic Wasser Werks a bit down the road in Friedrichshagen.
The most interesting thing we saw there was a 1-man bomb shelter from WWII. Actually, it fits up to three people.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Day 2 - Taking Trains

My early intentions today included a trip to the other side of town - to get a handle on how far away things are. Six optimists joined along and we rode the S Bahn to Zoo Station (you probably all know this: one of the trains that goes to that station is U2). Sorry! I forgot my camera but we saw the Gedachtnis Kirche (Memorial Church), an 18th century structure that was mostly destroyed by the allied bombing during WWII. There's a new edifice adjacent that now serves the congregation, but the shored-up former remanant with its gilt mosaics inside serves as a reminder of what happens when an insane leader pushes his people into a senseless war.

In the afternoon everyone ELSE had to go to German class, so I thought I'd go find the Mügglesee, a big lake to the east and south of here. For a change of scenery. To get some nature.

Got off at the right stop, Köpenik, but instead of finding the water I walked in the opposite direction. I make jokes about men not asking directions, but I didn't either. Confident in my intuition, I spent about an hour touring nice neighborhoods with houses and gardens, dogs and cobblestones, no traffic but instead people riding bicycles. There was "Red Riding Hood Street:"

And a free-flowing garden with a giant sunflower:

But today's essay is about Taking Trains. Hey. When you take a train in the US, do you get to do your produce shopping while you wait?

And, how about if you think you need a beer and a pastry. I mean, right now.

Poor thing. You'd prefer hard liquor, and some cigs. Been a hard day, huh.

One of the refreshing things about being in Germany is it's so much less a nanny state than the US. For example, I'm on the fourth floor here. It's actually 5 flights up because Europeans don't count the ground floor as 1, rather as ground. Anyway, if I wanted to dive to the ground from one of my gigantic, beautiful, two-ways-to-open-for-fresh-air windows, I could. Really. No bars, no screens. No safety locks. No nanny. Not that I would, but it's just an example...

Tomorrow I'm trying Köpenick again, this time in the right direction, maybe with some students. Stay tuned. (Photo from tonight's dinner)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

At Home in Friedrichshain

It's 22:30 pm and I should be dropping from jet lag, but somehow I think I'll be clicking away for another hour or so. We arrived in 23 pieces together in Berlin this morning, though it seems like 2 days ago already.

Our lovely Hotel Friedrichshain looks onto a quiet courtyard on Warschauer Strasse in the Friedrichshain district. Warschauer is a busy split street with an S-Bahn running up its middle. Pastel colored buildings, mid-rise stucco postwar apartments for the most part, accomodate on the erdgeschoss (first floor) a variety of small shops - handy phones, Obst & Gemuse, video rentals, an Apotheke...

I took a short run in my spandex down this street and up that. I did notice there was no one else doing this, though bicycles zipped by regularly in their own reserved bike lane. I used to joke that one downside of cigarettes is that you can't run while smoking. But here, you can't help it! Lots of folks light up while walking down the crowded sidewalks.

There are, I believe, 24 students in this program; about half women and half men. Coming from all corners of the continental US, most have put lots of energy into starting to know each other. So far we've eaten a couple of fabulous meals. Here I am showing some snaps of tonight's dinner. Too bad I didn't take them until the end. The food was as beautiful as it was tasty.