Florian Gaertner / Heiko Karn / Katrin Mayer / Eske Schlüters: Seams & Notches
Galerie Reception – Berlin
Kurfürstenstrasse 5a, Berlin – this address on a street running along the border between the districts of Tiergarten and Schöneberg provides both the starting point and the exhibition venue for the most recent work of the artists Flo Gaertner, Heiko Karn, Katrin Mayer and Eske Schlüters.
The area around Kurfürstenstrasse, Potsdamer Strasse and the former Gleisdreieck goods yard looks back on a eventful history. As Berlin expanded from the 1850s onward, construction in this part of town increased sharply, and newspapers and publishing houses such as Rowohlt moved into the neighbourhood. The district of Schöneberg became popular among artists and writers, among them the British author Christopher Isherwood, who lived there in the period 1930–33. His experiences are chronicled in the semi-autobiographical account Goodbye to Berlin, on which the 1972 movie Cabaret was based. The quarter was soon noted for its bars, nightclubs and revue theatres. The Wintergarten Varieté on Potsdamer Strasse, named after a venue that opened on Friedrichstrasse in 1880, sees itself as part of the same tradition. Following the destruction of World War II and subsequent division of the city into East and West, the once central area was suddenly on the sidelines and, after 1961, largely defined by its proximity to the Berlin Wall. For David Bowie, the wasteland around Potsdamer Platz became a place of yearning, especially after he read Isherwood. Bowie came to Berlin in 1976, and lived at Hauptstrasse, Schöneberg, for two years, recording two “Berlin albums” in the Köthener Strasse studios. In the 1980s, many new buildings appeared in the area, including a large proportion of subsidized housing projects. A good 20 years after the fall of the Wall, the quarter is changing once more, not least due to the increasing number of galleries opening there. The planned new buildings will bring further changes, as will likewise the park envisaged on the Gleisdreieck site.
Flo Gaertner, Heiko Karn, Katrin Mayer and Eske Schlüters explored the identity of the area for the show mounted at RECEPTION. The four artists based their works on observations of the neighbourhood as it is now in conjunction with research into recent history, at the same time reflecting on the role of the gallery as an institution. The principle of montage – processes of editing and assembly – plays a part in all the works individually produced for the show. Flo Gaertner took charge of the leaflet RECEPTION produces for its exhibitions. By subtle interventions in the existing graphic structure, the components of the layout have been “remounted” so that the means of communication and distribution are now placed spatially in scene. Heiko Karn developed an installation based on the attempts to draw up boundaries observed in the neighbourhood of the gallery. This blocking of views and access by drapes, fences and home-made barriers of various kinds is possibly symptomatic in a quarter that is changing, together with the property situation, and where there is a mounting interest in shaping public space. Working with lengths of fabric, Katrin Mayer developed a kind of covering for the exhibition space of the gallery, which resides in a building dating from 1885. Thanks to various modes of tensioning, the originally “shapeless” fabric takes on a structure that makes it look like a hybrid of architecture, display and decoration. The resultant layer added to the gallery is one whose materiality also refers to subjects such as temporary markings and spatial occupation, but is however formulated in a material historically associated more with discourses on gender or dandyism. For her new video, Eske Schlüters mounted excerpts from various films. In this process, the individual images unfold an atmospheric power often less obvious in the original context. The film Christiane F., which includes an appearance by David Bowie, is an important point of reference, together with the S.O.U.N.D., a discotheque in Genthiner Strasse in the 1970s and ’80s, and the 1931 screen adaptation of Alfred Döblin’s novel Berlin Alexanderplatz. The re-assembled moving images concentrate on the interaction of the figures’ movements with the architecture of the public spaces. All four artists studied together at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg, and have already developed a number of cooperative models and projects in various contexts and changing constellations. Their projects always focus on examining the “interspaces” created between individual approaches and installational configurations. By working with loosely related themes, examining the methods and subjects of their co-exhibitors, and equally by collaboratively developing the spatial concept, the individual contributions enter into a discursive dialogue that also reflects on the chosen format of group exhibition.
Clothed, RECEPTION, 2010
referring to the history of stripes as a visual attribute for marginalization a fold-out texture to be shaped after and within a space in this case sewed after the RECEPTION floor plan by Regina Sarreiter, shaped by Katrin Mayer and inspired by Christopher Isherwood‘s time in Berlin
fabric, jalousie cord, hooks; size: customized, space related and modulated
Schöneberger Morgen 1, 2010
shelf, wooden fence, metal fence, bamboo curtain, lacquer
Schöneberger Morgen 2 (Nr.1&2), 2010
photography, newspaper, passepartout
50 x 60 cm
frame: 52,5 x 62,5 x 2,5 cm
phantom ride, 2010
video, 6:50 min
RECEPTION newsletter, rearranged
Offset-Print on paper, DIN A 3