Ngorongoro II, Gallery (Artist) Weekend Berlin
Not far from a self-portrait by Giorgio de Chirico hung a miniature painting with a chinchilla’s face pressed against a wall- reminiscent of Pipilotti Rist’s video installations- is both visually and mentally baffling, yet comically absurd. A well-curated group exhibition is not what the organisers have in mind for their second edition of Ngorongoro since 2015. By amassing 156 artists and their works and displaying them in a 6000 square metres studio-like space, plus an outdoor swimming pool, Ngorongoro is a group exhibition started by artists and ‘curated’ by artists, in the sense that participating artists have to be invited by fellow artists. With the sole interest from artists wanting to show their works -without the notion of sales or a conceptual framework- it provides a direct dialogue with its visitors by restoring the purpose of an exhibition to its purest form: appreciation and reflection of artworks. Exhibitions like this perhaps can only be experienced in a city like Berlin.
Ngorongoro II is full of surprises. The Chirico-chinchilla situation is omnipresent as you walk through the rooms. The art market darling Katharina Grosse’s explosive colours at the end of the rooms draws your attention, but as you turn and peek through a glass window plays a new video installation Dead +Juicy, 2017 -filmed in Austin and exhibited at The Contemporary Austin- by the quirky Berlin-based German artist John Bock. The absurd scenarios in societies depicted in Bock’s work make one secretly accept the absurdities in our life and addresses the manipulative effect of visual language on the viewer. Installed next to a gruesome and bloody installation of a wolf devouring a fluffy dog is, an antiquity from the Khmer Kingdom placed inside a glass container from The Feuerle Collection; the stark comparison is uneasy yet equivocal as both recalls a violent past. The room next door is perhaps one of my favourite discoveries at Ngorongoro II. A sarcastic self(artist) irony video installation by the German-Norwegian media artist Bjørn Melhus, who dresses as a bizarre woman interacts with a digitally manipulated background and repeats phrases like “can you see that, can you see my art…” The nonchalant floorplan with handwritten names of artists exhibiting in a designated area is cool but in a slightly irritating way, especially in the main hall where artworks are literally on top of each other. For instance, a friend of mine cannot find the artist who has painted her favourite chinchilla painting. Nevertheless, Ngorongoro II truly represents the artistic spirit of Berlin- wild and free. Though it is a non-commercial exhibition, visitors can support it by purchasing the limited-edition prints by the organisers, who are also artists themselves. Again, you probably will not find the Chirico-chinchilla situation anywhere else but in Berlin!
Photo courtesy (chinchilla painting) Jana Oberländer
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