At the main entrance of pavilion 7, the booth for Helga de Alvear was buzzing with TV cameras and press photographers. As camera crews were filming de Alvear being interviewed in the mist of controversy, her face stoic and unresponsive, I walked straight to this Thomas Demand photograph to the left of her and thought “I saw you in Venice.’
The ice was melting in the glass bowls that had once chilled Champagne and the catering staff was packing away long plastic tubes filled with winter fruit. The fair will already filled with people and there was no wait to get in. I had clearly missed a morning party.
I kept finding myself being drawn to a well represented group of Berlin galleries and German artists, almost as if I was looking for a familiar face. However, I also couldn’t help but notice and secretly chuckle at the one lone Philip Guston painting at Hauser & Wirth behind the gallerist desk placed almost like an impulse buy and a segment of the former Cuba pavilion from the Venice Biennale at another booth.
HERMES & HERMAPHRODITOS, 2015 (Detail)
Courtesy Michael Müller
Michael Müller’s solo exhibition “Wer Spricht?” (Who’s Speaking?) at Kunst-Werke could easily rival a showing at the Hamburger Bahnhof or the Tate Modern. It could have been mislabeled “group show” and I wouldn’t have known the difference due to its comprehensive and well-executed nature. It felt historically present, relevant and gave a feeling of totality. Whereas I usually leave a show having fell in love with one or two pieces or one specific artist, almost every single object, drawing, video, sculpture, photograph, mixed-media piece drew my attention and made me dote over it with affection. I traveled through a cushy child’s playroom with my shoes off staring at a gold jigsaw puzzle, sat in a “gold lodge” home movie theater feeling pretentious and crouched down to enter a frightening hellhole where one could imagine elicit anonymous fucks. Less powerful was a clinical setting of Sol LeWitt-like penciled script in an unrecognizable Tai-Kadai language. I wanted a painting that was a drawing which gave the impression of having erased itself into strokes. One was struck by Müller’s mastery of old art forms to new ones, and the ways in which he alluded to mythology fluidly with Star Wars and Twin Peaks adding a hint of soft porn and topping it off with a golden salute to the orient in the form of an animal seesaw.
The video that plays in loop in the Gold Lodge movie theater depicts a Lacanian courtly love in which Hermes and Hermaphroditos never consummate their love but are forever in an erotic game, in this case on a see saw.
The media image chosen for the show pictured above could do little to capture the sheer scope and ambition of the show.