Mittwoch, 29. April 2015

"Vojna" and DADA in Zurich

Text: Lily Kalanda

After the Group Pussy Riot has quite established itself on the international scenes, art inclusive, the “Vojna” group that co-curated together with Arthur Zmijewsky the Berlin Biennale a couple of years ago, decided to follow suit. The press conference given by one of the Vojna members in the DADA city of Zurich caused waves of responses, reactions and discussions not only with the art concerned audiences but by public at large. The press conference was followed by an article in the NZZ – Neue Zuricher Zeitung and other bigger and smaller mass media coverages.

Protests against Putin's regime are of course worth covering and analysing as well as the activities of the protest groups that call themselves artists groups. Mistreatments, human rights abuses, child abuses and asylum seeking practices and performances, their realisation techniques have become as much artwork and artificial one would never doubt their authenticity. Calling for international attention with acts, verging on provocation and obscenity has become as customary way to international artistic publicity that quick success is guaranteed. Borrowing Artur Zmijewski's words “in our times the roles have been exchanged – artists act like politicians and politicians like artists.”

The culture and the history of artist organised protests against the ruling regimes is rich with former Soviet creative community. The well-known Bulldozer exhibition dispersed with Bulldozers and the local militia is one of the examples from the past, to say nothing of various subversive artistic underground protest acts and activities that failed to receive the same amount of attention as the Bulldozer show participants, some of whom subsequently emigrated to the so-called West to pursue their artistic careers without further notoriety.

“Vojna” translated from Russian means “War” in the sense of declaring war to Putin's regime one would presume. But wouldn't peace be a better weapon in vanquishing Putin's regime as the group members ardently claim and wish? Hoping against hope for peace in Europe “Vojna” gives us probably new hopes and perspectives of better peace and coexistence, as it's generally said, or as the Russian saying goes “Better poor peace than good war” yet when it comes to arts opposites meet.

Artur Zmijewski's Berlin Biennale Project co-curated by Wojna turned out to be one of the most controversial, critical and, sadly enough, fervently criticised Biennales ever. Inviting Occupy movement to expand the boundaries of arts within the KW Institute of Contemporary Arts, the so called Kunst Werke in the former butter factory in the Eastern part of Berlin, was a daring project to realise and remains quite unparalleled in all respects up to now, whereas “Vojna” still explores how much war and peace is possible and necessary in contemporary arts.


Freitag, 24. April 2015

Artist of the Month: Otto Stiehl, the Camp Photographer

Artist of the Month: Otto Stiehl, the Camp Photographer

Text: Lily Fürstenow-Khositashvili

History is there to remember even though history repeats itself, history of photography inclusive. In this, opening issue of the Artist of the Month series, the choice falls on someone who is quite ambiguous to be remembered as an artist, and is therefore rarely mentioned when it comes to early years of photography. Yet the fruits of creativity left by this individual are more than relevant for us today, in the years following the centennial anniversary of the First World War, that this article also tries to commemorate. The works of the photographer in question are now exhibited in one of the most prestigeous museums of the world, Museen Dahlem Berlin, and will be for sure put on display in more museum shows to come. History and facts below speak for themselves.

Before the First World War Otto Stiehl (1860-1940) from Berlin-Steglitz was an architect and Professor at the Technical High School Berlin. From 1924 he became member of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Pre-History. He started his military service in WWI with being an amateur photographer in the prisoner of war /POW/ camps. Stiehl's post as the camp Commandant in Halbmond Lager, Weinberg Lager and others allowed him unrestricted access to all prisoners in all camp facilities as well as to other camps all over German territory and beyond. He took his photography seriously and became, as he claimed, the true and impartial documentarist of life in POW camps. The photos by Otto Stiehl presented here were mostly made into postcards and sold. Now being part of the Garnisonsmuseum Wuensdorf collection, these have been kindly provided for this publication by the museum authorities.

It's all the more important to mention in this respect the exhibition mounted by the Museum Europäische Kulturen in Berlin Dahlem. The exhibition “Phonographed Sounds - Photographed Moments” is one of the most insightful, well curated, profoundly researched and accurate museum shows dedicated to the 100 centennial of the World War I organised in Germany in commemoration of the war. Among other artefacts on display the photos by Otto Stiehl are a significant component of the exhibition. For Georgian readership some of the photos exhibited present particular revelatory aspect since very few might expect to find among the photographic portraits individuals from the Caucasus: prisoners from Georgia, Armenia, Tatars, Tschechens, Cherkessians, other Caucasian peoples, as well as prisoners from England's colonies in India, the Muslims, the French all detained in POW camps during 1914-1918. The exhibition “Phonographed Sounds - Photographed Moments” has been onat the Dahlem Museum of European Cultures from 10.10.2014 and will continue till 03.05.2015.

Sonntag, 19. April 2015

Berliner Frühling

 Fashion Week Berlin
 Rundgang UdK
 Exhibition opening at the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin

U Bahn