A Polish factory in Berlin

February 27, 2012 § 10 Comments

Gallery view of Pawel Althamer's 'ALMECH' exhibition at Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin. Dec 23, 2011.

There wasn’t much about the German Guggenheim on the website, but it’s a Guggenheim, I got to visit it. So I marked down the location on my not-so-precise map and headed over to the Unter den Linden, which was the boulevard that led up to the Brandenburg Gate. I circled around the block for 2 times, and didn’t see any artistic building such as the Guggenheim in New York or Bibao. I asked for directions from a bunch of people, everyone pointed to the same way, which I’d already walked by. Right when I was going to give up, I noticed a sign board at the street corner with tiny words that read “Guggenheim cafe”. I looked up to the entrance, the green sign was written “ALMECH” not Guggenheim, but this has to be the place, so I went in to find out.ย To much of my surprise, the German Guggenheim was a small gallery space with only one exhibition in. The staffs even specifically informed all visitors that: “this is all it is”. It’s totally fine with me, as I was very captivated by the eerie display in the room already!

Pawel Althamer, a Polish artist, filled up the gallery space with lots of white life size sculptural portraits. Every one of them had an ultra realistic mask, made out from individual participants who worked for the Guggenheim museums, the Guggenheim Foundations, the Deutsche Bank or registered visitors who were selected by the artist. After the mask was made, it was then put on a steel skeleton frame with wheels and then draped around by strips and strips of plastic sheet. Participants told the artist what positions they’d like to take, and some even bring in personal objects to be incorporated.

When the white plastic sheet came out from the processing machine, the artist only had a brief moment to put it in place before it cooled down and hardened. Therefore, the artist had to work fast, and the result was lots of elegant lines. I thought some even looked like as if it was blowing in the wind. I absolutely loved seeing the different facial expression, postures and characters from each one of them. It was an amazing experience to walk among all these sculptures, and get to see them up close. By the way, they have a very informative guide to tell you everything about this exhibition.

Some brought in an old camera or some strange little items. Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin. Dec 23, 2011.

As if the plastic strips were floating in air. Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin. Dec 23, 2011.

Loved the American Indian hat shape! Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin. Dec 23, 2011.

This was an on going exhibition. When I visited, there were about 70s of them, and the artist kept on making these sculptures with its team on premise until the end of the exhibition. Through out the exhibition period, the artist decided to take down the sign “Deutsche Guggenheim” at the entrance, and replaced it with his factory’s name “Almech”. Back in Poland, his factory located in Wesoล‚a had the sign “Deutsche Guggenheim” on instead. The idea was an exchange of identity and space. The artist wanted visitor in Berlin was like visiting his factory in Poland. Well, thanks for making me circling around the block a few times.

The team is making the mask on permise. Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin. Dec 23, 2011.

You don't get much chances to sleep with art! Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin. Dec 23, 2011.

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§ 10 Responses to A Polish factory in Berlin

  • Super! Pawel is very talented artist.

  • d. durand says:

    Love this! I am a lot of things, and being an appreciator of modern art is one of them. I’m surprised the Guggenheim in Berlin isn’t just as fantastic of the others. Surely they’re overdue for an upgrade. We’ll see. Great job by the way. Also, you’re witty and witty folks just make me smile all over the place. Peace.

    • Katharine says:

      I think they just decided to have a Guggenheim in Berlin just because they got sponsored by the Deutsche Bank. Instead of building a crazy building, they just have a small exhibition area. However, the rotating exhibition here is very inspiring, and that’s what matters.

      and thank you for your kind words. I truly appreciate it.

  • kzackuslheureux says:

    I really like your introduction to this art! It’s amazing… I’ll have to post it on Facebook ๐Ÿ™‚

  • What a fascinating exhibition! Looks really inviting and like something you could look at for a very long time or many separate times and see new things every moment, a characteristic of many of my favorite art shows.

  • I saw this in Berlin too – it was an amazing exhibition. We walked past alot until we decided to try Almech instead of the Guggenheim – lol! I am doing an essay on it at Uni and have lost all my photos (the nun was my favourite). Would you mind if I used two or three of yours as long as I credit them to you? Its only for a University essay. So glad you enjoyed it – I want to go back! Wish I had the nerve to lie down by one of them. They were very peaceful! Lucie

  • Katharine says:

    Hahaha I wonder how many people out there went through the same ritual of circling around Almech before entering the Berlin Guggenheim. I’d love to be part of the project, and since I couldnt get the artist to make a sculpture for me, the best I could do was to lay next to the work ๐Ÿ˜€ a bit cold and there wentnt much free space though hahah.

    And yes of course.you are more than welcomed to include my photos in your essay. I’m more than happy to share them with everyone. I only ask that you cite the source and credit me for taking the photos.

    Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope this post reminds you of your visit there ๐Ÿ˜‰

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