It only comes around once every five years, but Documenta 12, June 6-Sept. 9, 2007, is still generating little scandals one after the other. First, municipal authorities removed from Kassel’s streets a new version of a 1979 work by Chilean artist Lotty Rosenfeld, in which she added white crosses to the ordinary lane lines painted on the asphalt. "A line can also be a weapon," wrote Inka Gressel in the Documenta catalogue, noting that in Rosenfeld’s native Chile in 1979, the streets definitely belonged to the military authorities.
A more recent traffic infraction involves the New York artist Zoe Leonard, whose "Analogue" -- a series of more than 400 color photographs of humble storefronts and street scenes from the Lower East Side to Africa and the Caribbean -- is displayed en masse at one end of D12’s Aue-Pavilion and also in portfolio form, laid out in vitrines, in the Neue Galerie. It seems that the latter was dismantled and removed without prior notice. According to Artnet.de writers Ludwig Seyfarth and Gerrit Gohlke, the exhibition organizers explained the removal by claiming that the installation hindered the circulation of the growing streams of visitors.
The behind-the-scenes grumbling at D12 also extends to finances, as the D12 administration is said to be seeking contributions from the exhibiting artists’ dealers towards the show’s growing extra costs. It seems that the heat- and humidity-sensitive photographic works are not faring too well in the custom-built Aue-Pavilion, which is essentially a plastic-walled shed with limited HVAC controls. It seems that D12 doesn’t want to pay for new exhibition prints and has asked galleries to foot the bill.
Showing at Documenta, the argument goes, adds to the value of an artist’s work, and thus the dealers should help defray the exhibition expenses.
So much for the idea that D12 is free from the art market’s financial pressures. Oddly, it’s not the first time that the show has turned to the private sector for funding, which is less usual in Germany than in the U.S. In a move initiated by art patron Arend Oetker, German culture minister Bernd Neumann invited several top collectors to the National Chancellery and asked them to help pay for building the Aue-Pa de art.
"House Trip" at Art Forum Berlin
This year, the special curated exhibition at the Art Forum Berlin art fair, Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2007, is going domestic, at least in theme. Organized by the Paris-based curator and critic Ami Barak, "House Trip" presents works by 57 artists who mix art, architecture and design. Barak, who first showed up on the radar with "Art for Tram" in Paris in 2005, takes the idea of "exhibition architecture" literally -- the show features a "very large temporary house" in which viewers will see art reflecting private life, room for room. The Romanian-born Barak, who has been tapped as a contributor to Bucharest’s third Biennial in 2008, sees the exhibition as "the scenography of private landscape and architectural utopias." Artists include:
Adel Abdessemed, Saâdane Afif, Atelier van Lieshout, Maja Bajevic, Ulla von Brandenburg, Eric Brown, Mircea Cantor, Keren Cytter, Jan De Cock, Krijn de Koning, Marcelline Delbecq, Götz Diergarten, Jürgen Drescher, Tim Eitel, Jean-François Fourtou, Fabrice Gygi, Jitka Hanzlová, Swetlana Heger, Séverine Hubard, Jim Isermann, Lisa Junghanss, Talia Keinan, Mark Kent, Peter Kogler, Susanne Kühn, Lamarche & Ovize, Marko Lehanka, Lucas Lenglet, Zilla Leutenegger, Anna Malagrida, Victor Man, Rita McBride, Wesley Meuris, Ivan Moudov, Shahryar Nashat, Warren Neidich, Fritz Panzer, Maria Pask, Katja Pfeiffer, Marjetica Potrč, Ricarda Roggan, RothStauffenberg, Vittorio Santoro, Yorgos Sapountzis, Bojan Šarčević, Gitte Schäfer, Zineb Sedira, Miri Segal, Wael Shawki, Francesco Simeti, Markus Sixay, Veron Urdarianu, Els Vanden Meersch, Ina Weber, Franz West, Erwin Wurm and Joseph Zehrer.Passing the Torch?
Contemporary Fine Arts, one of the more successful galleries in Berlin’s Mitte district, recently put on an unusual exhibition that paid homage to a legendary dealer of postwar Germany -- Rudolf Springer, a former insurance representative who supported Berlin’s first postwar gallery, Galerie Rosen, in 1945 before launching his own space in 1948. Open to both figurative and abstract art, writes Anne Marie Freybourg in Artnet.de, Springer was one of the first to promote contemporary art in a country that was still a pile of bombed-out rubble. In subsequent decades, his exhibitions revealed an unusual sense of experimentation, freedom and curiosity.
Early Springer shows featured works by Alexander Calder, Max Ernst and Andre Masson in exquisite but often undersold exhibitions (collectors were scarce in postwar Germany). But things really picked up as the country’s first "economic miracle" began to take shape. Springer showed Georg Baselitz in 1966 and Markus Lüpertz in 1968. In subsequent years he focused largely on paintings but always took risks, exhibiting works by artists like Armanda, Jörg Immendorff, A.R. Penck and Jochen Seidel from Germany as well as Austrian artists Christian Attersee, Günter Brus and Arnulf Rainer.
A list of Springer’s 400-odd exhibitions reads like an archeological account of the second wave of German art dealing. Contemporary Fine Arts specializes in the avant-garde, to be sure -- it brought the Dash Snow spectacle to Berlin this spring -- but the gallery’s celebration of the dealer was sentimental and historical, including photographs, catalogues, private memorabilia and a documentary video. Springer, who is 98 years old, even made an appearance at the opening.
Now, the remaining question is whether we should crown Bruno Brunnet, or Nicole Hackert, the two who run CFA, as the new bearer of the Berlin art-dealer torch.
KIMBERLY BRADLEY writes on art from Berlin.