I Know The World, 2

October 13. - November 10.

Matti Blind, Tamar Guimaraes, Antonia Low, Tanja N. Paulsen/ Grete Aagaard, Amalia Pica, Tommy Støckel, Markus Willeke

photos and CVs

How do we manage to understand, when traveling? When investigating a local context? And how do artists transform this process into something else? These are the questions asked throughout the series of "I Know the World".

Traveling in time/space stimulates Tamar Guimaraes’ work. Historical research provides narrative material, allowing representations of the past to reveal their connections with the ‘here and now’ – ghosts of long buried colonial times, the remnants of racism and national romanticism still haunting our present.

Similar to the amateur theatre re-enactment from Skagen that Tamar Guimaraes includes in her work, does the artist Amalia Pica create collective actions in the city of Amsterdam. With her performance she help us to experience historical moments through déjà vu.

With their work for the window front Tanja N. Poulsen and Grete Aagaard stand up and insist on a clean consciousness and political correctness. We are happy to be presented with other aspects of the human character and not only dwell at the ruin of national dreams – the dreams of modernity stranded.

Stranded dreams is what we find in the room of Tommy Støckel. Curated around his own sculpture of a pillar in decline, he has chosen Matti Blind's photograph of the decaying model of a never realised modernist building; Markus Willeke's trashy watercolours of Hollywood logos and Antonia Low's long forgotten drawing of a pop-stardom dream.

The exhibition:

Tamar Guimaraes is an artist born in Brazil, based in Denmark and currently at Whitney Program in NY. Jan Leton and the Archive - shown in the first room - is an account of a researcher’s attempt to find information on Jan Leton, a man who was presumably given as a slave to the bailiff of Skagen, in the north of Denmark, in the early 19th century, at the height of Denmark’s colonial involvement in the Americas. The sources of information on Jan Leton were Skagen’s death register, local history books, newspapers articles and oral accounts. These sources, riddled with discrepancies, span a period of 178 years, from 1827 - the year of Leton’s death, to 2006. Part of the project is an index listing the variations on the story over time, according to categories. Another part, is a slide projection with synchronized voice over, where the process of looking for information on Jan Leton is accounted for. The slides are reproductions from Skagen’s local history archive slide collection, and were taken in 1989 during a performance of the local theatre group, re-enacting Jan Leton’s arrival in Skagen.

Next to " Jan Leton and the Archive", a second work "A Man Called Love", made in 2007, is shown on a monitor A MAN CALLED LOVE is a short film based on Francisco Candido Xavier (1910 - 2002). Xavier was a Brazilian civil servant who became famous as a psychic medium and psychographer, channelling words dictated by disembodied spirits. He is described as ‘the biggest and most prolific psychographer worldwide at all times’ having written over 400 books. One of the books psychographed by Xavier is the novel "Our Home". First published in 1944 and continually in print since, the novel describes a city 'in the vicinity of Rio' where the recently deceased learn and work. But speaking about Xavier is also to speak of race and class relations in Brazil and the military dictatorship which lasted from 1964 to 1985, the period of Xavier’s greatest popularity. The narration intertwines the development of Spiritism in Brazil with the efforts of the left under military rule.

In the same room, the 16 mm film work "To everyone that waves" is projected, where as the other two art works Island and Drained of Argentinean artist Amalia Pica are installed outside and in the basement of Sparwasser HQ.
The three works of the artist are all based on performance and her relationship to a (foreign) local placement (in Amsterdam). But a performance put on to film material does not always equal a documentation. The film "To everyone that waves" was shot during an event (Good Bye) where white handkerchiefs were distributed with no further instructions to people waving at and from a departing tall ship. The film however (doesn’t act as documentation of the event but) portraits a generic image of departure in a time set that is hard to establish at first glance.

The work "Islands" is a sequence of 35 mm slide images (projected small sized on the wall in full daylight). A person is walking in deep snow, his path drawing the image of a tropical island. This is the island from comic strips, the island of Robinson Cruse.

The piece "Drained" refers to the nostalgia of a certain vitality of a community. A string of colorful fiesta light bulbs is hanging outside on the facade and on the trees, and corresponding with the surrounding 'Kneipen' (pubs) it promise party atmosphere for people passing by. The string continues into the gallery room, here drained the color giving a pale but bright white light.

A window installation "SET UP TOURS - navigations in the periphery of freedom" is shown with the help of a digital newspapers which is a running text, and a poster. The work is done by the artists Tanja N. Paulsen/ Grete Aagaard, who during the next two months will be around Sparwasser HQ, with the help of an AIR (artist-in-residence).

"SET UP TOURS" presents alternative ways to navigate in the current and increasing travel and 'life style industry'. The two artists comment critically and with humor on the concept of travel in connection to exotic holiday destinations, the free cosmopolitan life, the ability to navigate in every possible city - no daily commitments – hotels – restaurants – a mobile life where you network - make agreements - get inspired or/and relax.

Though for many 'to travel' is a privilege and something only others have the opportunity to do!
Since 2005 Tanja Nellemann Poulsen and Grete Aaagaard have been collaborating and working together on the project  Set Up Tolerance which embeds and contains for example Speak Up! - The Magazine for manifold remarks and unlike identities - holding and organizing workshops. During the residency period in the autumn in Berlin the artists will produce a series of short video productions and do research to the third issue of Speak Up!

For the back room of Sparwasser has Tommy Støckel chosen fellow artists working with fiction, history and decay to show pictures-on-the-wall around his sculpture “Broken Pillar (for Berlin)”.

This sculpture has taken on the appearance of a central pillar supporting the ceiling of this small room. The pillar has the colour of the black painted walls and ceiling and reveals its inner structure by being in a staged state of decay: Where the surface of the fake pillar seems to peel and crumbles away further materials appear, such as paper and polystyrene – poor materials similar to the ones used for Hollywood film sets. This is a pillar made for Berlin and its fading authentic history.

Markus Willeke’s watercolours reflect the Hollywood aspects of Støckel’s fictional decay with their painted film company logos from carefully chosen films. Trashy science fiction and horror films are only hinted at in the titles of the works, but the associations that they give are emphasised in the rough brushstrokes and the all but glamorous treatment of Hollywood iconography. “Burned 20th Century Fox (Alien)” is one such example, where in Willeke’s painting the building on the company’s famous logo appears as a run-down old monument.

Antonia Low has contributed with an example of faded glamour in form of a drawing made in 1985, when the artist was 13 years old. The drawing “Candy” is a design for an LP cover for a fictional pop band with everything that a 1980s record cover ought to have: The band – sophisticated clothes, hair and make-up – depicted playing in an futuristic landscape of hard-edge patterns and neon colours. Now, years later, the dream of the teenager longing for pop-stardom seems as faded as the New Romantic dream – and as old and worn as the drawing itself with its faded neon colours.

Matti Blind shows the photographic work “Sediment of Time”, which depicts a model of a never realised building by Mies van der Rohe. This building, which was very similar to the one designed for Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, was to be used as the headquarters of the rum producer Bacardi in Cuba, but was never built due to the Cuban revolution. Matti Blind has through studies of building plans and photos of an original model reconstructed a new architectural model of this building. But here has been added the speculations into what might have become of the building had it actually been built before Bacardi left Cuba – and if the building had been left to decay ever since.