Report from Berlin – Sigmar Polke

by the-biennial-project 1. April 2011 16:23

Polke, the São Paulo Biennial, and Berlin

by N. Ami

 

[N. Ami is an American journalist living in Berlin, and a big fan of the Biennial Project.]

 

An Homage to Sigmar Polke:

Taking Stock of a Friendship Between Artists

Exhibition at the Academy of Arts,

Pariser Platz, Berlin, January – March, 2011.

 

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                                            Sigmar Polke, 1995
                                            Photograph, 8 x 12 inches
                                            Photo by Klaus Staeck
                                            (c) VG Bild-Kunst

by N. Ami

A Remarkable Friendship

For over 40 years, Sigmar Polke and Klaus Staeck were artist pals. Staeck became an art collector, publisher, and gallery owner, and is now President of the Academy of Arts in Berlin. Polke (pronounced “polka”), one of the most influential contemporary artists in Germany, died in June 2010 of cancer at age 69.

Staeck organized this very personal exhibition as a tribute to his friend. Of the more than 90 works by Polke in the show, as well as numerous catalogs and photos of Polke, most are from the private collection of Staeck. I was moved by this show, the record of a remarkable friendship.

Great Exhibition Space

The Academy of Arts is located in prime space and is easy to find. It is a few steps away from the Brandenburg Gate, one of the best known landmarks in Berlin. A renowned cultural center, the Academy’s architecture differs starkly from its massive historic neighbors by its shear glass façade. It has 5 large exhibition rooms, and also houses a fine independent bookstore and spiffy café.

Those 5 rooms give the viewer ample space to see the prolific range of Polke’s experiments in painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture. Dominant are collage and montage done with offset lithos, serigraphs, and copy-machines. Some of these works are huge, as much as 7ft x 10ft. Overall, these big ones are bright and fanciful. His most usual tools were a camera, a photocopier, and his great wit.

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                          Sigmar Polke: The Cash Is Laughing, 2002
                          Offset Litho/ Serigraph on Cardboard
                          28 x 20 inches
                          Edition Staeck
                          (c) VG Bild-Kunst

Biennial

Yes, he had work in the XIII Biennial in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1975! A series of those works are included in this show. They were collaborations with the artists Achim Duchow, Astrid Heibach, and Katharina Steffen for the artists’ newspaper called “Day by Day… They Take Some Brain Away.”

These satirical works are, according to the exhibition notes, “a wild mixture of sex, revolution, and sensation as presented in the contemporary politics and men’s fantasies, as seen through the eyes of the bourgeois press.” The pieces are two-sided, printed offset on newsprint. They are indeed wild, with montages from Hollywood film posters, magazine ads, comic books, and political commentary.

The series for the Biennial was done at a time when young German artists watched a new country rise from its fascist ashes. The artists had a healthy anarchistic skepticism, and could observe the new post-war influence of the West with great irony.

For example, in Polke’s 1974 documentary photo series of beggars in New York City and beggars in Cologne, Germany, the two groups appear identical.

Polke and Gerhard Richter had already named their new art movement “Capitalist Realism” in the 1960s.

My Favorites

Most striking are Polke’s very early prints with “raster” grids – now (since computers) known as bitmaps – where he would take a small section of dots on a grid (say, from a conventional newspaper photo or comic book) and enlarge the dot-pattern to a gigantic scale. Then he would playfully work into that abstraction further with drawing and other printmaking.

He learned to “scale-up” this raster beyond recognition and then to create a whole new imagery within it. Technically, he was worlds ahead of other innovators in this area. Best of all, he took his work seriously, but never forgot how to play.

Consider his 1969 sculpture, “A Device With Which One Potato Can Circle Around Another Potato,” about 30 inches high, with two potatoes, wood, rotating metal arms and screws, and a loudly grinding motor. The potatoes can be replaced with newer ones, as needed. The viewer personally turns the electric switch on and off, setting the thing in motion.

My favorite works were a whole wall full of one-page faxes, sent between Polke and Staeck – over a hundred of them between 1995 and 2008. These were little goofy messages and sketches sent by fax, mostly about the two artists arranging meeting times with each other.

These little messages were so lively and real. It made me wish that the two guys could still send each other silly faxes and set more meeting times together.

And it made me wonder why the artists I know don’t send each other homemade things that can be tacked on the wall and saved. I mean, emails are better than nothing, but art is art.

So send your pals something goofy today!! There’s real power in it. And remember that some people die too soon, and then sadly those pals are gone.

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            Sigmar Polke [eating an egg] with a detail of "Unwelcome Gifts," 2003
            Photograph, 8 x 12 inches
            Photo by Klaus Staeck
            Edition Staeck
            (c) VG Bild-Kunst

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Report-backs and Reviews

The Biennial Project Report Back on the Amory Show

by the-biennial-project 16. March 2011 20:53

 

 

    amoryoverview    globes    opening1

As a follower of The Exploits of The Biennial Project, you undoubtedly know that attendance at the Armory Shows in New York (held annually during the first week of March) is an important Rite of Spring for Members of the World Church of All Things Art. Everyone who’s anyone one is there - no matter that the week is also a major event in the calendar of the Church of All Things Money, and that not even the most deeply observant art lover would be capable of absorbing this much art in such a short time. Like all spiritual pilgrimages, the important thing is to try. So trying we were, all week, all around town. Here is our report on Day One of this Important Event -

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OK, we probably stayed our a little too late with our entourage the night before, but still managed to be looking our best when we showed up early to pound the flesh and distribute our materials to the caterers and support people who were there as bright and early as we were.

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   Then they decided to let us in, and the magic really started. They ushered us into the VIP Lounge to wait until the show officially opened, apparently thinking that we would be less likely to bother people there. Wrong! We chatted up Our Fellow VIP’S and made several new friends. THIS is OUR audience – people with Avant Guard Art Sensibilities able to understand a nuanced parody of art-world  hypocrisy, and pockets deep enough to pay for it. Amazingly, we were not thrown out.

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At this point, the clock was striking on the hour of the actual opening, so we quickly joined forces with a Multi-Person Site-Specific Collective forming in the lobby to obtain entry tickets at the half price group rate (in so doing making a valuable statement on the mercantile nature of today’s art institutions and the value of collaboration in the face of nameless yet brutal economic forces.) Here’s a shout out to our new friends - making friends, for the world to see, let the people know, you got what you need!

 

Flush with our recent triumphs, we got down to the serious business of seeing and reflecting upon the vast amounts of Top-Flight International Art on site.

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  And, as often happens, looking at all that art by other people got boring after awhile, so we decided instead to create……….

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and create more…..

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Excitingly, Our Efforts did not go unnoticed!  We scored a Private Photo Shoot with the Art in America staff (seriously!) -

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Oh Armory Show, how do we love Thee, let us count the ways………….

 

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Other Campaigns and High-jinks | Report-backs and Reviews

Less of Us–Redo

by the-biennial-project 9. March 2011 16:51

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Ok, last week we said we were going to lose the weight we need to lose for The Venice Biennale. After all, the packaging of an artists can be just as, if not more important, then the art itself. What we did not count on was our popularity at The Armory Show in New York City last week. We were invited to so many of the ‘right’ parties and the caloric intake quickly added up. Our pledge to you, our loyal fans, may have taken a backseat (and I mean our own growing backseats). Fame and recognition clouded our judgment and made us lose sight of what is really important in life. Eating at openings, no matter how prestigious or trendy the gallery, can result in what we refer to as ‘Cheese and Cracker Ass’. Our right ass cheek is named Cheese, our left ass check is named Cracker. The combination of these two growing life forces combined with many a glass of cheap red wine resulted in More of Us rather then Less of Us. In addition to sampling all the tasty tidbits offered around town, we had to make appearances at all the happening discotheques and important parties. Staying up all night leads to a lack of sleep that leads to bad food decisions. The empty pizza boxes and take out Chinese food containers piling up in our living room are evidence of this. So with The Armory Week behind us it is now the time to make good on our promise to you, our beloved fans, to look as hot as we can, naked, in Venice.

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No goal can be executed without a good plan. Just saying we want to be thin has not worked out so well. In order for us to be as hot, naked, in bed for you all, we will spell out what we WILL DO to show you how much we care about you.

First we will throw out the piles of old take out boxes, empty vodka bottles and dirty Ben and Jerry containers from our living quarters. This may be motivated more due to the fact that cleaning lady is coming tomorrow, but nonetheless a clutter free home is a healthy home. We have even taken this purge a step further!! Instead of putting only one or two bottles or pizza boxes in our recycling bin a week (so the neighbors don’t know how bad we really are) we will throw everything in there at once. Let the whole city know how far we have fallen, and then demonstrate to them how far we will climb!!

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Secondly we will go to the grocery store, and with a sound mind, buy mostly healthy options for consumption. Fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lots of protein will make it into our carts. Some Snack Pack Vanilla Pudding somehow may make its way into our shopping bags but we promise to eat it right away. A planned diet is the key to unlock our chastity belts.

Third, its time to blow the dust off that gym membership card. Last year it cost us about $100.00 dollars each time we went to the gym. The membership was $300.00 and we made it there three whole times. We pledge to you, our fans, to get our money’s worth this year. The more we go the less we pay. Bargains are just as good of a motivator as the motivation of screwing the man.

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Forth, In addition to eating well and hitting the weights, we will finally follow through on returning the emails to the lady trying to sell her exercise bike on Craigslist. Just enquiring if it is still for sale has not yielded the weight loss goals we had envisioned. From now on our home exercise equipment will never accumulate any of our coats or scarves. We will even find a more appropriate place to hang the dog leash. The aforementioned equipment will be used each week while watching ‘Biggest Loser’ and ‘America’s Next Top Model’. No more devouring an large extra cheese pizza while making fun of the extremely fat, sweaty people or the stick-thin, anorexics girls. From now on it will be a handful of nuts and putting the petals to the metal while watching the ‘Real Housewives of Wherever’ overspend their inattentive husband’s money.

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We cannot do this alone!! We need your help. Please send us naked, hopefully inappropriate, photographs of yourself so we can see who will be getting naked with us in Venice. The motivation of sex, as well fame and money, will get us to the gym faster and will lead to a better, more confident, attractive Biennial Project. Any suggestions you have are welcome!! Share with us your place to get a really thorough colonic. Tell us what information you have on the newest, best legal or illegal liposuction procedures. Discuss which appetite suppression pills you use that cause the least amount of road rage, don’t prevent a rock hard boner, or at least do not cause heart failure. We want to make you, our fans, very, very satisfied but now the ball is in your court. It is now up to you how attractive we will be. After all it is you looking at us naked at all the orgies in Venice? We need your help to get the hottest sex out of us!!!

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Less of Us

Boston Online Biennial

by the-biennial-project 1. March 2011 17:41

Ever dreamed of having your work seen by the international art elites at the prestigious Venice Biennale?  Here’s your chance. 

The Biennial Project, world-renowned artist collaborative is putting on a show.  And what a show.

Open to all artists world wide working in any medium, the first ever Boston Online Biennial will be a platform for participating artists to have their work seen and recignized by a large and varied internation audience.

All selected work will be displayed in our website gallery and in a blog posting that reaches an audience of 2,000.

Additionally  particpants work will be included in a digital art display to be shown at The Biennial Project's VIP opening reception for the 2011 Venice Bienniale.

Prizes will include cash awards, a solo gallery show on our website, and a solo blog posting of 15 pieces or his/her work to an audience of 2,000.

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Our Biennials

Fan of the Month 02/11 - Victor Peterson

by the-biennial-project 14. February 2011 17:09

 

Hey kids, rock and roll, Happy Goddamned February!  In the spirit of the month, we have selected Mr. Victor Peterson as The Biennial Project’s Fan of the Month for February.  There was really no choice about it – Victor put the competition to shame by sending us, by Actual Snail Mail (who knew they still had that?) a good old-fashioned Fan Letter.  And what a fan letter it is.  We don’t think we could truly do it justice by describing it, so here it is in it’s entirety, in Victor’s original hand-writing.  We’re good,   but no way even we could make this up...

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Of course when we got this letter, we immediately blew it up poster size and used our contacts to get it put it up in a Chic Downtown Gallery Space here in Boston. During the opening, who should walk in but Mr. Victor Peterson Himself – so we prevailed upon him to pose in front of his now famous Fan Letter.  Talk about your post-modern-irony-and-layers-of-self-reference-type situation!

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And come to find out, when we perused our archives, we had previous video documentation of our now number one fan – aka Person Aroused by Anna….

 

Victor, here’s to you, and here’s hoping you get that gig curating majors shows that you so obviously deserve!!!!!!!!!  We’ll be waiting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Kisses, TBP

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Fan of the Month

Global Biennialism Digest January 2011

by the-biennial-project 26. January 2011 16:33

Hi Fans! Welcome to the third installment of Global Biennialism Digest – the feature  in which we search far and wide for the most up-to-the minute info about the coolest Biennial Exhibits out there,  and provide links related to submission opportunities, exhibition dates, and interesting biennial reviews, as well as fun sites that delve into the biennialism phenomenon.

We Love letters from our readers, especially ones with suggestions on how to improve our Biennial Coverage. We reicieved a letter from Luciana Capuano Massine from Brazil as to why we did not cover The San Paulo Biennial 10 which was going on at the very moment I was writing the last update .We would love to cover each and every Biennial but that would require way too much time and focus. This is not a comprehensive report and our mind flies in many different directions being that we are world renown artists and all. Luciana, we at The Biennial Project would love to hear your impression of the San Paulo Biennial if you had a chance to see it. Seriously!! The same goes to all our fans. If you happen to catch a biennial, big or small tell us what you thought of it and maybe, just maybe we will include you in future Global Biennial Digests. We look forward to hearing from you!!!

Back to our report!!!!!

Going RIGHT NOW until the end of February is The 8th Shanghai Biennale. I would give you the link but it does not seem to be working. I read here why from Lauren Mack who is a freelance journalist located in Taipei.

‘It appears the Shanghai Biennale’s official website has been temporarily blocked worldwide (presumably by Chinese authorities who have been cracking down on artists recently. Over the weekend artist Ai Weiwei was put under house arrest, which prevented him from attending an event at his gallery in Shanghai). Once the website is back up, I will post a note on the Blog. The links I have here will once again work once the Shanghai Biennale’s official site is back online. I apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused.

This really seems to suck big time!!

Anyhow this biennale asks the question of who is controlling the direction economically and politically of contemporary art? Is it the artists or the Art Market? In China it appears to be the ruling government. We at the Biennial project wish we had finished our submission for the Shanghai's Biennale on time because questions of controls the art world is what we want to know Whose ass should we really plant our ruby red lips on? Maybe in some manner we have already contributed to this dialogue. Here is an interesting article we found of an interview of a BANK involved in this Biennale.

http://en.artintern.net/index.php/news/main/html/1/1398

Such an interesting interview for a Biennial that is being held in a communist country which denies freedom of expression but uses the free market for economic profitability!!! Maybe its time too put down the chopsticks and stick them with our forks.

If you want to see really big art in a really big way be sure to check out The Texas Biennial, which is a project of Big Medium (cute) a non-profit based in Austin. All of the artists were chosen from Texas, the home state of Biennial Project member and world renowned Art Rock Star Laura Rollins (currently residing in Greenwich, CT). This Biennial is slated to open in Austin Texas April 15. Somehow this only seems right for a state that votes to not pay taxes. Did you know that Austin is the only major Texas City that has no ordinance against women appearing topless in public? "Keep Austin Weird" has become a local motto. We at The Biennial Project encourage you to attend this event and catch sight of strange bosoms. Road trip to Marfa anyone?

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CLICK HERE FOR TEXAS SIZED INFO

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Global Biennialism Digest

Hans is in the house!!!

by the-biennial-project 16. January 2011 16:15

Hans van Meeuwen wins inaugural Boston Online Biennial

Well….when The Biennial Project began planning our fabulous trip to participate in the 54th Venice Biennale we knew we would be successful—but who could have imagined the extent of our smashing success as The Biennial Project and their entourage of glitterati took the Big V by stormjQuery15204912018298466718_1342912544030?!!!! Suffice it to say that we were surrounded by art rock stars of all shapes, sizes, and nationalities….but few could hold a candle to our own Hans van Meeuwen—the first place winner of the inaugural Boston Online Biennial.

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Originally hailing from Rotterdam in The Netherlands, Hans moved to Germany in 1991 and then to New York in 2004—he currently lives in Brooklyn. He has exhibited extensively in Europe and in New York.

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In 2008 he showed at New York’s Christinerose Gallery which was reviewed in (wait for it….) ART IN AMERICA, my bitches!!!!!! This alone officially make Hans Art World Royalty.

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His work capitalizes greatly on elements of scale coupled with a deadpan dry wit. The pieces are often fanciful if not dreamlike, evoking a surreal and mysterious presence (giant CHICKEN FEET outside your tent, anyonejQuery15208885680774870383_1342912735453?)

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Though he has created public art pieces and installation, even his sculptures have an installation-esque quality. They seem like smaller parts of a larger whole which invites the viewer to interject his/her own narrative—explainations for what frequently appear to be extraordinary or paranormal phenomena.

 

        vanMeeuwenH02_Spookrijder                                 vanMeeuwenH09_SweetPotato

 

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HATS OFF TO OUR CHAMPION!!!

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December Fan of the Month

by the-biennial-project 9. December 2010 13:21

As usual, The Biennial Project has been busy.   Just two weeks ago we jaunted down to NYC to visit galleries and attend tony openings, all the while keeping an eye on possibilities to advance our Important Work.  We participated in many Prestigious Gallery Shows while there, and will have more on that for you soon.  But in the meantime, we wanted to introduce you to our newest Hip Avant-Garde Artist Friend.

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His name is Russ Underlab (that’s Mr Underlab to you), and we met him while visiting the New Museum of Contemporary Art in the Fashionably Edgy Lower East Side to work on collaborations with many of the Big-Name Artists showing there.  He works there, and is himself a Big-Name Artist whose Chelsea Show just closed.

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We hit it off fabulously. Honestly, the Cognoscenti just always seem to GET us!  Now we’re planning collaborations with him too, and he is of course coming to Venice with us this summer for 54th Venice Biennale Villa Experience .  He even likes all the same things we do, including Johnny Cash, Anselm Keifer, and Wikileaks.  Most importantly, he makes a mean Rum Ball.

Russ Underlab truly deserves his place as The Biennial Project December Fan of the Month 2010!!!  Now do Russ proud, Esteemed Fan Base, and FACEBOOK THE FUCK OUT OF THIS POST!

And by all means, check out his Cool Website - RussUnderlabWebSite, and his Excellent Facebook PageRussUnderlabFacebook.

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Fan of the Month

Biennial Project hangin’ w/ our buds the Starns…on the roof of the Met

by the-biennial-project 9. November 2010 16:44

Well…it goes without saying that the Center of the Art World is NYC—that is New York City and specifically the glamorous rooftop of the Met—that is the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  And…it goes without saying that where the Center of the Art World lies, The Biennial Project is sure to be seen…especially if it means mingling with Fellow Art World  Gliteratti Doug and Mike Starn in and around their awesome installation Big Bambu.

Shown here slurping yummy martinis at our Very Special V.I.P. Meeting with da boyz is Biennial Project member Laura Rollins who shares the same birth year as Doug and Mike as well as fellowship as an alum of the prestigious School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  Ahhhhh the elbow rubbing we must indure…..

 

Starnes Met photo

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Play The Biennial Project Game

by the-biennial-project 21. September 2010 16:55

We told you we’d get around to making you famous too, didn’t we?  Well, that day has come! At the most recent of our many Glamorous High-Level Art Receptions, we unveiled the hot new Biennial Project Game, in which contestants vie for valuable prizes by completing the provocative and conceptually complex sentence What I #?!@ About The Biennial Project!BP017_RJ

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And although the many Important Art World Movers and Shakers amongst our guests had trouble at first pulling themselves away from our Absorbing And Well-Crafted Wall Art,

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     once they got going they loved it!BP030_RJ

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Check out the excerpts from this Fun-Filled Evening below, and be on the lookout for The Biennial Project Game to appear again where ever the Coolest People can be found!

 

Excellent Art Photos Courtesy our Outstanding Webmaster Paul K. Weiner

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