February 2009, ARTKILL.HBC ART.03, BHC Kollectiv, Berlin
ARTKILL.HBC ART.03, BHC Kollectiv, Berlin
Lucas Abela, Jerome Fino, Stephane Degoutin, Marika Dermineur, Kuda.org, Yan Leguay, Michael Sellam, Gwenola Wagon. Curated by AKA and Kyd Campbell of Frontierlab.org, supported by Staalplaat and Transmediale.
Alexanderplatz is an unloved and unlovely zone. Its architecture, contested and constantly rewritten by war and politics, is about as dysfunctional a geography as can be imagined. On one side of this vast square, its perimeter defined by traffic intersections, its centre by the iconic Fernsehturm, the Hungarian cultural mission to the GDR established a gallery/film club/cultural centre which for many years, despite draconian censorship, managed to smuggle in subversive and avant-garde art.
Long since gone the way of the wall, squatted for parties and now sandwiched between shops selling tourist tat and Burger King, the erstwhile empty space that was the Collegium Hungaricum Berlin is now occupied by the BHC Kollectiv. In conjunction with Transmediale and supported by Staalplaat (a leading distributor of experimental music), Artkill, curated by Kyd Campbell of Frontierlab.org and AKA, managed to maintain the feel of a guerrilla event but its politics and aesthetics seemed cooler and sharper, more detached.
In a darkened room bombed with graffiti, a single spotlight illuminated, Yan Leguay’s Cut.
A single record deck, attached to the balance arm and weighted with a coin, the blade of a Stanley knife rescored the vinyl, reversing content and support..
Elsewhere Kudu.org presented radar footage of the Nato bombardment of Yugoslavia, reducing conflict to an austere and provocative video game in black and white. Formalising and distancing itself from the consequences of war, the abdication of commentary or graphic news imagery lending Safe Distance
an a-historical urgency.
Driven by an algorithm generating a semi-random pairing of words and accompanied by images and music, Dermineur, Degoutin and Wagon’s internet project, Who are you?
(presented here as a video, T-shirts and a book) constituted a playful, post-structural perpetual motion machine, in which arbitrary juxtapositions might find fleeting resonance as the machine played exquisite corpse with itself. Each pairing one in a sequence of 250,000 possible combinations. Zombie nihilist, bin-bin blonde, nouveau riche regressive.
In Eye for ears: Macro Videos
, Jerome Fino documented a number of experimental musicians in extreme close up - resistors and circuit boards were tweaked in fetishised detail and the musicians remained resolutely absent, despite effectively giving the lie to the old saw that electronic musicians are simply checking their email.
In less ambivalent mode Abela, a sound artist whose previous work has included a duet for amplified samurai swords, was represented by a looped black and white performance video. Working under the pseudonym of Justice Yeldham, a disgraced paedophile judge, Abela’s instrument is sheet of glass, amplified by a contact mike and distortion effects. The outcome is predictably gory but the cathartic rage is contained, the performance un-melodramatic, the damage strictly collateral as opposed to masochistic, the sound a snarl of feedback and white noise that traversed the space between IDM and Hendrix.
Though unifying themes amongst the work presented were hard to identify they all have in common a multi-format approach, at home as much in performance, sound art and the virtual space of the internet (and , indeed, the context of the Transmediale) as much as the historically loaded site of HBK. In fact, with the exception of the dramatically lit installation by Leguay, the work could be regarded as indifferent to its context, its atmospherics largely incidental and fortuitous.
There was, however, a kind of cultural ambassadorship to be detected, the sphere of the long tail, as witnessed by the merchandising, deluxe vinyl in ultra-limited editions with prices to match. The trans-national and the trans-aesthetic space between varied disciplines and platforms elided. The fluid world of, comparatively, immaterial practices, in sound, in procedural abstraction, establishing a brief embassy in a sympathetic city, commodifying itself.
“About AKA: Artkillart is a label created in 2007, based in Paris and Berlin. The label aims to promote experimental audiovisual and procedural sound art. Artkillart invites artists to conceptualize, create and design an object, which explore the limitations of the support (dvd, usb, cd and/or vinyl), and tries to translate the specific processes of creation.”
Formerly an artist and gallerist, David Selden is a freelance writer
living and working in Berlin. He writes about music for dorfdisco.de
and maintains the blog Unter den roten Geweihen
view all articles from this author