Trains Pt. 2

The KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin has a slide (check the left of bird's eye view). I say slide, but it's architecturally equivalent to the flumes that used to stick outside of Ladywell swimming pool, until they got banned (rumours of blades in the plastic). After a friendly wave to the invigilator, this slide transported me from conceptual hell (there were broken UV lights tousled on the ground) to a soft, foamy landing, surrounded by a travelling archive of over 3500 independently published works. There was also a bench. I only had a few hours spare, but it's alright because Christoph Keller (of Revolver fame) and all his books are coming to the ICA via Istanbul some time soon. Book discrimination is tough. It goes something predictable like cover/content>binding>paper. If paper doesn't smell good, I am upset. Highlights from this brief ruffle include:

+ Non short-story, photography J+L books (although their illustrated short storybooks are very much worth it, I can but duly wait for a third beautifully ink-stained spine to arrive.)
+ The 'Transmission: Rules of Engagement' series, especially Autopoesis: novelty, meaning and value
+ Bart Lodewijsk's chalk drawings / dividers on abandoned buildings.
+ Airdrop, a history of air-dropped leaflet propoganda by Jennifer Gabrys. I learnt about this, a gift from the Germans to the French in WW1:

It says:
The leaves are falling. We will fall like them ... next Spring no one will remember either the dead leaves or the dead soldiers.

So, the reason why I couldn't spend the whole day on this bench (social obligations aside) was that the actual reason I'd come to the KW was for the e-flux video rental project. This is a room with 2 shelves, 2 sets of headphones, and a television set. On the shelves are over 500 short films on loveable VHS, to be watched at whim. It was hard demonstrating self-restraint, but I think I chose pretty wisely. My favourites were Jozef Robakowski's "Dance with Trees" (he hums and waves the camera about in a forest) and Mircea Cantor's "The Landscape is Changing" (a dozen people walk through a city with metal sheets on sticks, warping everything that comes into their path via sunlight).

I should mention that the night before, the KW hosted a country karoake night. A German man (Christophe Dettmeyer) wearing appropriate attire showed us his films (barren American landscape essays) and then wowed us with his Bonnie Prince Billy and Johnny Cash renditions. This was interspersed with the History of the Cowboy (thanks to Karolin, uber translator, I now know that the stereotype derives from American Indians. Pre-steam train and inevitable Hollywood heart throb responsibilities, their main occupation was that of an efficient postal service).

Memefest were also holding an exhibition (the ABC semiotics of resistance) whilst I happened to be in the area. They gave awards to all the wrong people, and there was some incredibly irritating work on show (eg: a tv screen showing a still of a drunken man covered in foam, the tv itself surrounded by empty beer bottles). However, there were a couple of interesting things, such as Hans Bernard and Alessandro Ludovico's "Google Will Eat Itself" project: "The Google to the People site (www.gwei.org) run infrequent online demonstrations on the google website, we inject a social virus (lets share their shares) into their commercial body hidden under google's polite and friendly graphic surface." Falsely luring people to their site, ad clicks resulting in a micropayment which is then invested in Google itself; it's old news, but I understand paper better than most things, so it was nice seeing a large flow diagram on a wall. I like Google a lot myself, but I guess minor deception must provide kicks.

Matt Siber also had some stunning, me-sized photographs on display. The text/image separation idea doesn't quite translate to vertically aligned small pixel patches, his website is worth a look.


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