A Polish factory in Berlin
February 27, 2012 § 10 Comments
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. 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.
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 Wesoła 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.