Saturday, 6 August 2011

On the wrong side of the road: back to Berlin.

I have discovered the joys of traveling early in the morning to catch low cost flights.
Sleeping just a couple of hours, waking up at 3 am and observing the city going to sleep from a cab. Experiencing the sunrise from the train, everything dipped in a golden pond of light. Joining other travellers, single or in groups, everyone silently pondering their thoughts while they are wired in.
It wasn't my first time in Berlin, but it certainly was a first in terms of experiencing the city from another point of view.
Tourists go around by the underground to the main touristy attractions. Special guests who have the luck of having a friend with a spare bike available, go around pedalling and see much more.
I thought London was a bike-friendly city, but I had to reconsider: the broadness of Berlin's roads and liveable traffic allows you to cycle safe and sound. For pedestrians, though, it's another story.

I went to see my artist friend Silvia Iorio and her latest, successful exhibitions, to which I am dedicating a special post. Silvia likes to ride the bike on the pavement and on the wrong side of the road, especially doing the giant slalom among Germans and tourists alike. Moreover, not to squeeze in impossibly narrow passages is not an option. We spent the first half of my arrival day trying hard to find a haven for Ike (pictured), also known as The Travel Companion.
The poor little swallow was trailing along the concrete passageway that links Schonenfeld Airport to the train station, unable to stand or to fly. And then he ran into me and my inability to leave little and plumed things be, because-I-know-they-need-my-help. We left him in the Berlin's Zoo precinct after he vividly expressed his displeasure of being carried around in an unrequested human hand by leaving a pretty big souvenir on my trousers.
Fair enough. Next time I promise I will fight my Saint Francis syndrome, as I call it.
I hope he didn't hit the tigers' cage, though.

Silvia and I crossed the city far and wide, fluttering from an exhibition to the other and from a dinner to the next. From the Indian Embassy to the Jewish Museum, from Spanish paella to the amazing seafood linguine of Italian restaurant Da Papa', on Uhlandestrasse. We explored flea markets, tried to reach Potsdam but were stopped by our own hunger and preferred to visit a cafe', and actually crossed the Sony Centre on the bike during a presentation of The Green Lantern movie, where the red carpet was actually green.

Pictures are bitty and far from satisfactory, but here we go.

A special mention goes to the hideaway Tadshikische Teeshube, a beautiful tea house brought in Berlin straight from Tajikistan. In conclusion, there is only one recommendation I can give you about Berlin in summer: mind that cyclist!

The Bay Window Project: Catherine Bertola

Artists in a Frame 

curated by sybin 

From Wednesday 10 August  

SybinQ Art Projects
The window on Cleveland Street
London W1T 6DP
t. 07913717999

The Bay Window Project: a window that becomes a container for contemporary art. Beyond the white-cube display, the artwork forcefully enters the private sphere of a flat to be seen by an extemporaneous, unaware public. The aim is to map the evolution of site-specific art in a non-institutional environment. 

The second artist invited to exhibit in The Bay Window is CATHERINE BERTOLA. 

Bertola realises site-specific installations engaging with everyday debris, from dust to the delicate patterns found on blinds or net curtains that keep our domestic sphere private from the outside world. The debris speaks of a distant past, of untold and invisible stories of places and people. Her work is included in the Government Art Collection and it has been displayed widely in National Museums and abroad. 

For The Bay Window Project, Catherine presents the work Home from Home (Self-adhesive vinyl on glass, dimensions variable. Courtesy: The Artist, Workplace Gallery and Galerie M+R Fricke) 

In 2001, Catherine Bertola first installed Home from Home in the windows of three pubic houses; the Forth Hotel, Trent House and Newcastle Arms in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Net curtains are associated with suburbia and the home, not just used for decoration but also as a barrier between public and private – allowing the occupants to look out but preventing passers-by from looking in. In that instance, the installation brought a touch of intimacy to the hedonistic heart of the city. This year, the work was featured again in the group exhibition Cult of The Difficult, curated by MA Curating the Contemporary students at the London Metropolitan University in collaboration with the Government Art Collection.
Home from Home was installed in the Cass Gallery’s main window, creating a suspended screen that interrupted, in a way, the overall view of the show from the street. Drawing from the concept of copy and paste and associating it to the analysis of the same artwork in different contexts, Home from Home now reaches what could be its natural environment: a bay window.
The site-specificity of Bertola’s work is translated in an installation that may go unnoticed, sitting between the actual function of an ordinary blind and its status of artwork that has been collecting traces from different places. 

The display runs 10 – 31 August. 

Catherine Bertola (Born in 1976 in Rugby, UK) lives and works in Gateshead.
Selected Solo Shows: 2011 – To be forever known, Bronte Parsonage Museum, Haworth; 2010 - Scion, Beacon Art Project, Barrington Court, Somerset, UK; 2009 – Unseen By All But Me Alone, Workplace Gallery, Gateshead, UK; 2008 – Over the Teacups, M+R Fricke, Berlin, DE. Selected Group Shows: 2011 – Cult of the Difficult, Cass Gallery, London UK; Personal Tempest, Neue Galerie, Innsbruck, Austria; 2010 – Walls are talking: Wallpaper, Art and Culture, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, UK; 2009 – Out of the Ordinary: Spectacular Craft, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, UK. 

Will come next: RUSSEL CHATER in September

Further links: 

Previously in The Bay Window: Davide D'Elia > Tropical Aryballoi. If you have missed it, have a look at it.