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    Oh, Cologne
by April Elizabeth Lamm
 
     
 
Lawrence Weiner
Things Themselves...
1999
at Konrad Fischer Galerie, Düsseldorf
 
Thilo Wermke
of Galerie Neu, Berlin
 
Christian Flamm
at Galerie Neu
 
Christiana Doll
Portraits, Möbel, Rechteck und Wörfel
2000
1,500-4,800 DM
at Galerie Michael Janssen, Köln
 
Mathilde ter Heijne
Suicide Bomb and the Two Chosen Ones
2000
9,000 DM
at Arndt & Partner
 
Andrea Knobloch
at Galerie Mai 36
 
Nicole Wermers
Vacant Shop
1999
104 x 80 x 90 cm
at Produzentgalerie, Hamburg
 
Maki Tamura
at AC Project Room, New York
 
Lawrence Weiner's wall text at the booth of Konrad Fischer Gallery, THINGS THEMSELVES ON TOP OF OTHER THINGS ON TOP OF SOMETHING ELSE NOW AND THEN, sums up nicely the overwhelming flow of things I have done and things I have seen after the first weekend of Art Cologne 2000. Time to slow down for a little digestion so I can make room for dessert.

Smart shoppers can find bargains in both blue-chip contemporary, like the Weiner (which was selling for only $40,000), or search out the completely, utterly new. Plenty of collectors are taking advantage of the second possibility. Only three days into the fair and everything's sold out over at young Galerie Neu of Berlin (representing Manfred Pernice, Andreas Slominski, Thomas Kiesewetter, et al.). Gallerist Thilo Wermke lounged comfortably on his sofa reading Heinrich Mann's Im Schlaraffenland (In Paradise). His only worries for the rest of the fair include the little "work" outside of paradise he has to do, namely hanging up a new Christian Flamm work every morning. Flamm, born in Stuttgart in 1974, requested that only one of his works should be hung each day on a wall painted black. They sold out immediately, a bargain at 2,500 DM each.

Flamm's fame is due in part to his participation in the big "German Open" in Wolfsburg, where instead of exhibiting his own work -- simple portraits and everyday scenes made of cut-out colored paper -- he invited 20 of his friends to paste up their artworks onto an old door he installed in the museum. Thilo, waxing lyrical from too much of the bubbly fun at the fair, called it a "silent work . . . different from the other artists in the show who did big sculpture."

Flamm himself played the role of the silent melancholic artist on the day of the fair opening, sitting in the booth smoking cigarettes. That boy's got the sad eyes of a Chihuahua, I tell you.

The "Promotion Program for Young Artists" here at the fair affords a 50 percent discount to 21 young galleries selected by a tiny jury of two Cologne dealers: Daniel Buchholz and Luis Campaña. Buchholz told me, "What we wanted was to get at the hotbed of contemporary art and that's what we've done." I like hotbeds. Flamm is one of those artists in the hotbed, as is Christina Doll, represented by Galerie Michael Janssen. The 1972 Cologne-born artist makes porcelain statuettes (about a foot high) of her friends in their everyday frumpy get-ups.

Doll's statuettes are then installed on pedestals along with a porcelain cast of a piece of their own furniture (a fold up chair, an end table, a small refrigerator positively European in its mini-ness). Adorable was the pony-tailed man wearing a zipper sweat jacket and pants standing stiffly next to a chest of drawers. The figurines were selling for between 1,500 and 4,800 DM.

The Dutch artist Mathilde ter Heijne (b. 1970) represented by Arndt & Partner, Berlin, played a little trompe l'oeil game, dressing up two female mannequins to look like fashionable art-fair visitors. They sit on a bench with their backs to passersby, apparently watching a video documentary about a female terrorist who blows herself up with a bomb. Ter Heijne plays the woman in the pseudo-documentary, and the mannequins are replicas of herself -- a reference to Frida Kahlo´s double self-portrait, The Two Fridas, which she made after husband Diego Rivera requested a divorce. Sensation crazy and a little loopy from last night's champagne, I kept waiting for the dummies to blow up. At this writing the piece is still available for DM 29,000.

I found Artnet Magazine chief Walter Robinson peeping into a refrigerator -- looking for leftover beer? -- installed in the booth given to Andrea Knobloch of the Zurich gallery Mai 36. The walls were plastered with those advertising inserts one finds unhappily crowding our mailboxes, filling the space that letters from home should. Verner Panton-type furniture, lampshades made from plastic supermarket bags, and a curtain made of plastic cups filled the rest of the invitingly colorful room.

Rooms in miniature were made by Nicole Wermers at the booth of Produzentengalerie, Hamburg. A little less than a meter square, Wermers' boxed-in rooms were set on pedestals, giving a giant's point of view into a room used and re-used, wallpapered and dry-walled, somewhere inbetween the state of being abandoned and not yet empty. One nice detail -- hidden layers behind each wall that suggest a covered over, if not so interesting, past. Two of the three were sold when I saw them (8,000 DM each). All hand-made down to the worn parquet floor, Wermer's vacant spaces are much like a doll house gone awry. Gordon Matta Clark would have liked them.

Pink felt-covered plastic chairs with a candy-bear motif furnished the space given to Maki Tamura at AC Project Room, New York. Multi-patterned scrolls -- a combination of watercolor and woodblock -- made the booth look like a wallpaper showroom. Can we say "decorator's dream"?

Also exhibited were installations done by Birgit Brenner (Eigen + Art, Berlin), Björn Dahlem (Galerie Luis Campana, Cologne), Urs Fischer (Galerie Hauser & Wirth & Presenhuber, Zurich), Richard Hoeck (Meyer-Riegger, Karlsruhe), Andreas Kaiser (Galerie Seippel, Cologne), Jim Lambie (The Modern Institute, Glasgow), Jesus Palomino (Helga de Alvear, Madrid), Costa Vece (Galleria Franco Noero, Turin) and Sandra Voets (Galerie Conrads, Düsseldorf).

The painters in the group were limited to five: Reto Boller (Galerie Mark Müller, Zurich), Thomas Eggerer (Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne), Robert Lucander (Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin), Matthias Schaufler (Hammelehle + Ahrens, Stuttgart) and George Shaw (Anthony Wilkinson Gallery, London). The only drawings on view were those weirdly half-human, half-monster watercolors of Marcel Dzama (Richard Heller Gallery, Santa Monica), who continues to produce and sell at a fanatic rate.


APRIL ELIZABETH LAMM writes on art in Germany.