The post-war architecture of the former German Democratic Republic was dominated by peripheral simplistic apartment blocks – a cheap and uncomplicated construction technique with industrially prefabricated building elements. Employed as all-consuming visual key- points, they were also established in the historical core of eastern Berlin, in order to emphasise the socialistic appearance of the city center. Despite their monumental presence, the multi-storey buildings are commonly sensed as depressive and dismal: Their aesthetic reflects a political mind-set, which is no less rational and austere than the buildings’ design. They represent a functionality, which originally does not provide any space for illusions. Curated by Point Project, the exhibition Illusionary Spaces introduces different artistic strategies, which juxtapose imaginary and illusionary spatial concepts as a contrast to the rational aesthetic of socialistic architecture. Intervening in the space, the works of six installation artists are exhibited in several rooms of a central multi-storey building, which used to be home to an old cinema and has been abandoned since 20 years.
Alona Rodeh’s video „Barking Dogs Don’t Bite“ (2012) documents the invasion of a dense cloud of smoke that spreads within the empty space of an art gallery in Tel Aviv. For a short moment the staged smoke screen transforms the room into an opaque, fictional landscape, until a screeching alarm and a water sprinkler put an end to the short illusion. Also the subtle light-installation „Fenster Berlin“ (2014) by Ulrich Vogel goes against the demure architecture: By projecting the outlines of a window on the wall, the work evokes an imaginary distance and creates an illusionary spatial extension.
While these works suggest poetic utopias, Lars Bjerre’s painting „Untitled“ (2014) describes the interior space of a deserted Rumanian ruin, in which the architectural construction crumbled with time – wooden floors and walls dissolved. Similar to the presentation of his birdcage installation „Irremediable Omission“ (2013), the aesthetic of abandonment and chaos appears like a theatrical stage for traces of the past. Steve Schepens’ sculpture “Untitled” (2014) evokes a sense of imprisonment: A cube, consisting of several spring-loaded bar mousetraps, is placed on a plinth. The work, thus, not only refers to classical museum display-modes for art, but it also suggests an imaginary anxiety space.
Paolo Bottarelli’s video of ongoing series „Chesscube Project Mind Rooms“ (since 2010) is concerned with inaccessible spaces (of thought). Following the pattern of a chess board, 64 black and white cubes represent both, the negative and the positive mental states of the artist. Documented in painterly, filmic and photographic media, the internal spaces of the cubes are based on complex mathematical and geometrical calculations. The site-specific laser installation „OT_L_SPACE_02 (Cinema)” (2014) by Shan Blume creates another geometrical room of illusion, which reflects the architecture of the old, wood-panelled cinema in the building’s first floor by means of laser beams. The imaginary structure thus appears to be haptic, but eventually reveals itself to be a simulation of ephemeral outlines.
Note: This text appeared in the exhibition’s booklet. It was written by Anneli Botz and Anna-Lena Werner, who are both, artfridge editors and co-curators for the exhibition „Illusionary Spaces“.
Curated by Point Project / Anneli Botz, Anna-Lena Werner & Lars Bjerre
22.02 – 28.02. 2014 with works by Alona Rodeh (IL), Lars Bjerre (DK), Paolo Bottarelli (IT), Shan Blume (D), Steve Schepens (BE), Ulrich Vogl (D)
ADDRESS: Projekt Kino Ost, Leipziger Straße 60 / Jerusalemer Straße, 10117 Berlin Opening Hours: daily 15-19h