Thursday, 14 April 2011

Hamburger Banhof

The Hamburger Banhof is the first gallery we saw whilst in Berlin. It was once a one of the first terminal stations for the rail system which is what gives the Hamburger Banhof it's distinct structure. It was converted to the "Museum fur Gegenwart" (Museum for Contemporary art) in 1996 after being reconstructed by architect Josef Paul Kleinhues. The exhibition that was on during our visit was Richard Long's Berlin Circles. Richard Long is one of the godfathers of Land Art which took fame during the sixties. I had only seen Long's work photographed insitute where his walks had originated. I thought that this idea worked well with his philosophy on his work and life and was sceptical on him bringing it into a white wall space. I realise he has been practising this method for the majority of his carrier but I always identified more with his work remaining in it's 'home location'. I felt that I had been converted once I entered the overwhelming and unexpected hall space. These two factors made me feel that the work and space worked well together but on reflection I'm uncertain of weather it was merely the space and the scale of the work that impressed me. On one hand really liked the grandeur and the nature aspects but on the other there were sloppy aspects to it. Such as the white chalk circle that they had used to ensure that the work was perfectly circular. I understand that they used that process as I would also have to employ it to ensure a perfect circle but it seemed lazy and careless to not removed the chalk once finished. I did however feel that it worked well with the other aspects of the gallery and acted as a good starting point for a range of diverse works that was spread throughout the massive gallery.

The Robert Rauschenberg series was in one of the rooms off from Long's main hall. They were a series of works that I had not come across before and instantly caught my eye. His use of photography, silk screen and colour was something that I found really interesting and was a process I felt that I could apply to the Charles Gershkovich photographs I still have lying around. They depicted his travels to China in 1982, he took hundreds of photographs and when he went back to The States he collaborated with a graphic studio. He had layered images on top of each other and played around with their colours giving them a ghostly and disjointed feel. They also felt as though he had put all the pictures on individual screens and then just played with arrangements and configurations whilst he was working, playing colours and images off one another. I felt this worked well as it gave the pictures an interesting dynamic against each other and suited the mundane styled photography whistling giving them a new collective dimension.

Whilst walking through the maze that is the Hamburger Banhof I had walked through a series of minimalist sculptures which felt me feeling cold and felt more like a glorified photo opportunity than an actual experience I came across a series of video rooms. The first of which houses the video piece 'The well-shaven cactus'-1970 by Ger Van Elk, I instantly laughed and saw this simple video piece as a breath of fresh comedic air to a potentially stale corridor of contemporary art. It's simple title and execution of the idea was something that I was instantly fond of. It's a great combination of the mundane and the ridiculous which is becoming a more prominent part with my relationship with the idea of the mundane and pedestrian.

There were moments within this exhibition where I felt that I was seeing some very interesting and challenging works of arts. There were also moments with in the exhibition where I felt that my particular tastes didn't match up to the types of art on display. It was at these moments married with the volume of intake that I felt myself merely taking photographs to fill the void. I was starting to see pieces as photo opportunities and on later reflection realised that I should have given less time to certain pieces and moved through the gallery faster and then go back to certain pieces that caught my eye initially. After this experience I don't know if I will take my camera in again as it's too easy to just switch off and click.

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