13 May -24 May 2019 PhotoSpace Gallery Curated by Millie Bull
Kate Matthews’ Berlin Doesn’t Love You speaks to a city in the grips of an image crisis. Berliners cling to the past as their city accelerates into the future. Nineties nostalgia has erupted in the wake of gentrification. But is this a good thing? What aspects of Berlin’s past ought be ‘preserved’?
Berlin is fluent in the language of street art. For decades, conversations have taken place on the city’s walls (and Wall). There is a democratic spirit to this anarchic expression. By enlivening public space with debate, street artists embed their critiques in the fabric of the city itself. Against a history of exclusion and division, street art has helped redefined Berlin as a haven for liberal expression; a playground for creative autonomy and inclusivity. It has been a vital mode of self expression, rebellion and conversation.
It is 1953. Vivian Maier walks the streets of New York. As she passes an antique dealer, an old mirror catches her reflection and throws it back at her. With her Rolleiflex around her neck, she takes a moment to pause and permanently fix the image she sees on film. Holding the camera at waist height, she does not meet her own gaze in the mirror, glancing slightly upwards instead; timid, earnest, almost child-like. On this day, she is wearing a structured, oversized jacket and her hair is pinned neatly to one side. Behind her, a fire escape chases skywards. In a second mirror, titled slightly upwards, towering apartment blocks soar out of view. In this concrete jungle, Maier is small and alone.
Kunsthistorische Museum Wien | Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures, Curated by Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf
Snow blanketed the street. Christmas markets filled the squares. Glühwein perfumed the air. The backdrop was oddly well set for Wes Anderson to stage an exhibition in Vienna, the festive season bringing the same air of romance and nostalgia to the city as one of his movies. Two years in the making, Anderson and his partner Juman Malouf have curated an exhibition at the Kunsthistorische Museum titled Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures. It’s part of a larger series at the museum that invites well-known creative people to curate an exhibition at the museum. Given access to over four million objects in their archives, the aim is to see if their unique eye can teach us new and unexpected things about the museum’s collection. Anderson is a clever choice: few people have such a particular vision of world (just look at the @accidentallywesanderson Instagram for proof). He also has a devotee fan base. Hours after hearing about the exhibition, I had booked my flights to Vienna.
The Bodes Museum |Beyond Compare: Art from Africa in the Bode-Museum
Entering a room full of Christian Gothic art, there stands a formidable Congolese spiritual idol. With his hands proudly on his hips and his feet rooted firmly on the ground, shards of metal protrude from his wide wooden chest. A symbol of protection, his huge porcelain eyes survey the space before him. In its original context, this ‘power figure’ would have kept watch over a local Congolese community but today his eyes fall upon something very different: Michel Erhart’s Virgin and Child, a protective votive from fifteenth century Germany. Caught eye-to-eye, these two protective statues meet for the first time across time and space. It’s an unexpected but welcome encounter in an otherwise traditional Western art museum.