art, Berlin, Life in Berlin, things to do

Jeanne Mammen at the Berlinische Gallerie

Jeanne Mammen, Berlin
Jeanne Mammen (1890-1976) was a Berlin-based artist, most famous for chronicling life in the city during the 1920s.

Born in Berlin, she studied art in Paris and Rome and lived in France until the outbreak of World War One forced her to move. While her family relocated to Amsterdam, she chose to return to Berlin.

At first, Mammen struggled to support herself as an artist, and she took any work she could, creating artwork for movie posters, satirical magazines, books, and fashion plates.

Particularly striking are her sketches and watercolours that depict people from all walks of life with a sympathetic yet unsentimental eye. Much of her focus was on women. Some her works, which capture swinging, glittering 1920s Berlin could be mistaken for contemporary party scenes.

Jeanne Mammen 3But in addition to these more well-known works, the retrospective at the Berlinische Gallerie also shows how the artist’s work developed over decades, with 170 pieces from a career lasting over 60 years.

The artist lived in the metropolis during some of the most monumental shifts in modern history, and this is reflected in the range of her output. For example, during Nazi rule, she sketched the image of a menacing wolf on the markets page of a newspaper (right), linking war and terror to capitalism. Later on, she made theatrical collages, and moved towards abstract art, using different materials such as sweet wrappers, pipes and wire.

Jeanne Mammen, art, Berlin

 

An illuminating retrospective of a multifaceted working artist who continually changed yet maintained her unique style, refusing to be pinned down to one particular movement.

Jeanne Mammen, The Observer: Retrospective 1910-1971 is on at the Berlinische Gallerie (Alte Jakobstraße 124–128, 10969 Berlin) until 15th January 2017.

 

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Where Did You Hide the Sun? photo by Sandy Di Yu
art, Berlin, Life in Berlin, people

The Friday Image: Where Did You Hide the Sun? by Sandy Di Yu

Where Did You Hide the Sun? photo by Sandy Di Yu
Image courtesy of Sandy Di Yu

Sandy Di Yu is a Berlin-based artist. For more, check out her Instagram.

art, Berlin, Life in Berlin, people

Creative in Berlin: Bernhard Vierling

dsc_3582Bernhard Vierling has been a working artist in Berlin since 1986. His studio in Schöneberg is an orderly space filled with books and sketches. Big silk screen prints dominate one wall, while smaller sketches crowd the other. A few sculptures stand on surfaces.

Vierling has been sketching since he was a child – it is a medium that comes naturally to him – although he started out as a performance artist. Like this studio, his vibe is calm, thoughtful, focussed.

His first studio was in Neukölln, which in the 80s was considered a remote outpost – hardly the destination for young partygoers it is now. At the time, he was doing a lot of meditation, and the sound of the engines from Templehof airport reminded him of the hum of Tibetan monks.

The anecdote is revealing of a particular artistic tendency – imaginative, and perceptive of things beyond the obvious material sense. This quality is reflected in Vierling’s energetic tangles of sketches. For example, one of his series focussed on breath – he sketched lots of models, but his lines focussed not on their bodies but the way in which their breath moved in and out of their bodies.

Another interesting series of sketches focussed on the initial bodily reactions we have when we meet or see people. Vierling started paying attention to his initial, physical reaction to a person, which happens before the cerebral, and started representing these in his sketches of their bodies.

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As a working artist, he is involved in multiple projects – as well as sketches and sculptures, he also does workshops. His current projects include his fascinating portray-society performance art and a series of sketches based on the traditional representations of sexual positions that were given to newly married couples in China (image above). Because of the scope of his work, his studio in Schoenberg is not his only working space.

He is of a generation of artists who create for the sake of inquiry and creativity rather than for commercial success unlike, he says, some artists who start conceiving based on what is in currently in vogue. For him, this leads to a healthier relationship to money and art. He does some things for money, while enjoying the freedom to create as he likes without the pressure to sell. A useful perspective for those of us who are trying to build a career in the arts.

You can visit Vierling’s studio by signing up for his lecture performance on Essence as part of the upcoming open studios in Schoeneberg this November.

 

art, Berlin, Life in Berlin

Creative in Berlin: Jenny Brockmann

Berlin artist Jenny Brockmann, whose exhibition Chronicle of a Place is on at Die alte feuerwache in Friedrichshain, talks about her work and relationship to the city.

photo courtesy of Jenny Brockmann
photos courtesy of Jenny Brockmann

You were born in Berlin. How do you think the city has influenced your work as an artist?

Although I spent 16 years of my life abroad, I feel at home in Berlin. I am convinced that architecture and urban landscape shapes us as individuals as in the idea of Leib (connection between body/senses and mind) described by phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty and I am sure it subsequently affects our interaction with others. My work is deeply influenced by Berlin in particular in how I deal with space and built structures and the resulting social and societal references.

What’s your favorite place in Berlin?

I like those places which give us a different, unusual view of Berlin. The small port in Treptower Park for example, the Tempelhofer Feld or Teufelsberg, with its derelict radar station, telling us about former times. 13

Tell us about your current exhibition.

The exhibition ‘Chronicle of a Place’ shows part of a huge archive of drawings, texts, material samples, photos and film recordings I collected over the past one and a half years in three different places: Istanbul, Tel Aviv and New York. I followed paths in these cities which are connected to the migration of German people in the last 150 years. However, the work is not primarily  about looking back in history; it is more about approaching the city in a situationist kind of way, exploring the structure of the city in present time.

What themes are you concerned with in your work?

The main idea behind this work is dialogue. Starting with the interactions that occur when working in public spaces, affecting people’s perception of their daily routes, then bringing the collected materials into the exhibition space in a distant city and last not least creating space for dialogue through workshops, talks and events. Taking a different perspective and experiencing new ways of thinking is one major point. The aim for dialogue is also the reason I invited the curators Kristina Kramer and Ece Pazarbasi to talk about their perspective on my project, which will take place tonight in the exhibition.

Where do you work?

I work throughout the city, in scientific laboratories, in the middle of nature, in the workshop, in the exhibition space, in my studio, at home or in a cafe. It depends on how the actual project needs to be conceived.

Describe your process.

Working on a project involves considering it from many different angles. In terms of output, this includes many different media such as drawing, sculpture, photo, film, collected materials and measurements, texts, installation, performance.

What are you working on now?

I am working on 07a participatory project I began last year, in which I ask Berliners for a photo of their horizons. I want to share what people see. These photos give us the opportunity to look at the horizon from a proximity; I think the horizon that is close to us is predestined to be looked at in an abstracted and thus interpretative way. It reveals something about the people who photograph it. I believe the horizon of people in Berlin is different to that of people in Tokyo or New York.

Curators Kristina Kramer and Ece Pazarbaşı will talk about their responses to Chronicle of a Place tonight at 7 pm, followed by music by Jeff Özdemir and friends at 9 pm at die alte feuerwache / Projektraum – Galerie, Marchlewskistraße 6, 10243.

If you are being creative in Berlin and would like to chat about it, contact me.

art, Berlin, Life in Berlin

Creative in Berlin: Laura Fong Prosper

Visual artist Laura Fong Prosper has been living in Berlin since 2007. Her solo video exhibition Gēn opens tonight at the Vesselroom Project.

Here’s your chance to meet her and find out about her work and relationship to the city.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Laura Fong Prosper. I am an artist and film editor from Panama. I love yoga, cats, nature, music and good food. I am a melting pot with legs. I am Chinese, Native American, black and white.

screen-shot-2013-04-03-at-6-30-35-pmWhy did you, like so many artists, choose to live in Berlin?

Since I came in 2004, I knew I wanted to live here. Freedom and creativity breathe in Berlin’s air. Since then, of course I’ve seen some dramatic changes; everything is more organized, controlled and less anarchic than it used to be, but I think change also brings other possibilities. More opportunities for artists, more spaces, more global exchanges and local community work. Let’s hope Berlin grows for the better.

What’s your favorite place in Berlin?

I can’t have one favorite place in this city. That’s why I love it so much. Some places are, Treptower Park, Richardplatz, Tempelhof Airport, Prinzessinnengarten, the Thai Park, Teufelsberg and anything in the outskirts of the city all the way to beautiful Brandenburg. I usually spend my weekends outside the city in the countryside of Brandenburg.

Tell us about your work.

I mix VJ (video jockey) techniques and film editing techniques into my work. I also like to use analog formats, and mix it in with newer media. I love color saturations, over impositions and glitch. I am into experimental film making, video installations and visual essays. My VJ work is more about video painting on a canvas and live video art projections than syncing video bits to music beats.

What themes are you conscreen-shot-2013-04-09-at-1-10-56-amcerned with?

Identity, the expat life, being a foreigner since 2001 in different places all over the world gave me a constant nostalgia or homesickness of missing family on a daily basis. But also, being a walking melting pot, I can’t relate only to one culture. And that’s how I feel every time I go back home. I feel I don’t belong there anymore. So I like to deal with that space in between. That identity limbo and its consequences.

Describe your process.

Trial and error and free play. There’s no other way for me. I came from film school where everything is very strict, pre-planned and hierarchic (especially fiction filmmaking). With my art I like to break from all those conventions and just play. I like unexpected – accidental – results the most.

Editing is on one hand intuitive/dreamlike and on the other about story-telling and construction – your video art seems to rely more on the former than the latter – or do story-telling principles still apply?

screen-shot-2013-04-03-at-5-57-42-pmYou’re completely right. When I work as a film editor, even though I bring my intuitive abstractions once in a while I have to rely on telling a story, thinking about the spectator… is it clear enough? Is it boring? How can we make it shorter? My art work is the complete opposite. Its more about feelings than rationality. Sometimes, I like to leave the interpretation open to the spectator. It’s more about telling fragmented stories than a linear one. I pay a lot of attention to trying to show moments of my life, seen through my eyes. It’s about creating an ephemeral experience.

What are you working on now?

An experimental film about Berlin. After all these years here, I haven’t done any project on the city yet. It’s about time. You might be interested. I’ll keep you posted…

Laura Fong Prosper’s solo video exhibition Gēn opens at 7 p.m tonight at the Vesselroom Project, near Kottbusser Tor and runs until 12th December 2014.

If you are being creative in Berlin and would like to chat about it, contact me.