Photo: Installation view: Klaus Weber, NONUMENTS. Photographer: Eric Bell

Klaus Weber: NONUMENTS

Duration of the exhibition: 01.12.19 – 16.02.20, 24 / 7

 

Berlin-based artist Klaus Weber works in a variety of media, and channels many disciplines of specialist knowledge: from engineer to anthropologist, from bee-keeper to anatomist. His ongoing explorations of natural, technological and socio-political forces, look to investigate our relationships with the environments we live in. By poking at the rational veneer of everyday life — sometimes subtly, sometimes with catastrophic metaphorical consequences — Weber delivers an untamable, anarchic humour.

In his exhibition at the Volksbühne pavilion, Weber critically engages with monuments and memorials to bring into question society’s deepest belief systems. Traditional monuments – typically bound to ideas of national identity – depict heroic narratives and glorious victories. Everyday human failings, doubts and imperfections hardly feature. NONUMENTS is the name Weber uses to describe his contrarian proposals for public monuments. They are contemporary memento mori that reflect on late capitalist culture with an edgy, uncomfortable wit.

The exhibition includes several sculptures, some are models for yet-to-be realised public monuments or temporary interventions. “Snowman” for example: Atop an over-elaborate neoclassically styled pedestal, where one might expect to see an illustrious commander carved in stone, there is a snowman with a cigarette in its mouth and a bottle top for a hat, posed without pretence, like an irreverent anti-hero. This eternal snowman couldn’t care less about the threat of melting. The thick frost around the exterior of its copper body is maintained by the constant circulation of refrigerated spirits in its interior cavity. Weber’s sculptures often exhibit such cyclical processes.

“Burning Insurance” is a small-scale model of an insurance company headquarters in Berlin Wittenbergplatz, perpetually and quietly burning without expansion. Adopting the format of the diorama – a miniature dramatic scene common in the nineteenth century – unsophisticated lighting and a smoke machine give the crude illusion of a raging fire. In similarly deadpan dramatic mode, “Fountain Bus” depicts an ominously deserted roadside scene where a single storey commuter bus has apparently veered off the road, becoming stranded on top of an overturned fire hydrant. As it fills with a torrent of water, the bus is transformed into a farcical water feature, endlessly filling and tipping, filling and tipping. These two NONUMENTS are sculptural closed-circuits, maintaining states of endless, perilous, equilibrium.

“Brick Shoes” is a pair of classic black leather slip-on shoes, evoking an “Old World gentleman” or aspirational businessman, bound with cement to two bricks. As an image they recall a cliché comic book prank, or perhaps something more sinister — apparently the Italian mafia would set a murder victim’s feet in cement so that their body would sink to the bottom of a river. Whatever conclusions we draw, the owner of the shoes is nowhere to be seen.

 

Photo: Installation view: Aviva Silverman, The Living Watch Over the Living ii, 2019. Photographer: Eric Bell

Aviva Silverman
The Living Watch Over the Living ii

Opening: 13.09.19, 19:00
Duration of the exhibition: 14.09. – 10.11.19

On last year’s American independence day, activist Patricia Okoumou protested against the policy of child separation at the US-Mexico border with a heroic gesture. Putting her own life at risk, she climbed the base of the Statue of Liberty wearing a printed T-shirt calling to “Rise and Resist”. “Lady Liberty” has stood with her raised torch at the southern tip of Manhattan since 1886, waiting for the “tired” and the “poor,” the “wretched refuse” and the “homeless.” This promise, however, has become increasingly mocking under the presidency of Donald Trump. Ascending a statue that has always stood for democracy and freedom is akin to reclaiming that promise, and evokes Emma Lazarus’ poem*, inscribed on a bronze plaque at the statue’s feet. In Aviva Silverman’s installation The Living Watch Over the Living ii, three marionette-like glass angels follow the footage from Okoumou’s action. They are doing what angels usually do: surveilling what happens on earth. According to holy scriptures, angels are non-gendered beings of a purely spiritual nature, who act as God’s envoys and deliver his messages. They are both witnesses and Martyrs (the Arabic word Shahid refers to both terms), someone who is ready to go all the way for what they believe in, regardless of the consequences. In that sense, four Angels meet at the Volksbühne Pavilion: three are made of glass, and Patricia Okoumou. And so we watch, as one mortal looks over the other mortals, all under the eyes of the immortal. The Living Watch Over the Living ii is Aviva Silverman’s first solo exhibition in Europe and combines the artist’s various interests: Surveillance and alternative lifestyles, activism and human rights issues, as well as theology and spirituality. 

Aviva Silverman (born 1986, New York) works with sculpture, performance, photography, and theater. Solo exhibitions and performances include: Swiss Institute, New York (2019) and Twister at MoMA P.S.1 (2016). Group exhibitions include Greater New York, MoMA P.S.1, New York (2015); It Can Howl, Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, Georgia (2016); and I Surrender Dear, Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg, Austria (2016).

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!“

Photo: Martin Ebner

Starship
The Near Future

Duration of the exhibition: 16.03. – 19.05.19

An installation by Ariane Müller and Martin Ebner (Starship)
with works by Judith Hopf, Christoph Keller, Henrik Olesen, Gunter Reski, Nina Rhode, Nora Schultz, Till Sperrle, Tobias Spichtig, Suse Weber, Annette Wehrmann and Florian Zeyfang

The art magazine Starship was founded in 1998 in Berlin-Mitte and exists by now for more than twenty years. In its first issue, it used six key phrases to describe the environment in which it operated: “experienced self-organization”; “halfway drafted life models”; “passing economy”; “ exhibitable introspection”; “ample contacts” and “art?”

Twenty years later, Starship continues to produce the magazine, but also looks back on a long life-span as an exhibition organizer, publisher, and producer. Within the current editorial board — which includes Gerry Bibby, Nikola Dietrich, Martin Ebner, Ariane Müller, and Henrik Olesen — Ebner and Müller had originally founded the magazine, together with Hans-Christian Dany and Gunter Reski. For the exhibition at the Volksbühne Pavilion, they have visualized Starship and invited works by artists that have been in the memory or storage of the magazine for varying lengths of time. Seen in terms of theories of relativity, as material objects, they are potential kinetic energy, and therefore, together with their authors, they are the virtual operating power of Starship, which has always also consisted of publishing what it understood as the current and new within its time. The magazine Starship has existed in the near future for twenty years. In its exhibition at LVX, it takes the form of a barn. This is not only because the area around the Volksbühne is known as “Scheunenviertel” (Barn District), but also because this is the shape the Starship builders have developed for their spacecraft as the most economical and suitable for everydaylife. In this form, Starship can function as a ‘magazine’ in its meaning as storage, but its parallel function as a spaceship facilitates movements in various time-relative relations. Either way, the barn and the spaceship are a kind of shell for everything they transport; its builders are the Volksbühne workshops.

Curator: Elodie Evers
Curatorial Assistance: Adela Yawitz
Construction Engineer: Sascha Gierth
Construction Manager: Simon Behringer
Technical Director: Stefan Pelz
Fabrication: Volksbühne workshops
Video Engineers: Jens Crull, Mathias Klütz

The exhibition is funded by Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa.