Project Space Festival Day 8: mp43
Between the stark concrete housing blocks and weedy open spaces of Hellersdorf, a model example of East German housing infrastructure built on the peripheries of Berlin in the 1980s, capitalism still often feels like an intruder. Instead, “shopfront” spaces facing the shadowy concrete promenades of this area and its neighbor, Marzahn, are of late often occupied by community-oriented studios and art spaces, as is the case for mp43.
Carola Rümper and Marnie Müller, the “two-stroke engine” behind mp43,
gave their one-day event the unassuming title Topflappen
(oven cloth) for the simple reason that this is an object everyone and anybody can identify with. Certainly, those PSF regulars who made it out to the far end of the U5 that hot Monday afternoon were met by another public from the very center of Hellersdorf.
Regardless of our differences, everybody has had a home of sorts, and everybody knows nostalgia. Babel
was a participatory project by Sandra Schmidt consisting of an installation and collection of stories around small, hand-made paper houses produced by exhibition visitors themselves – adults, children, and everybody in-between. It was surely the artist’s aesthetic decision that the houses were strictly to be made without a floor – the resulting hanging display formed pleasing shadows on the walls of the space. At the same time, I could not help thinking that, in a contemporary do-it-yourself world, fabricating one’s own provisional infrastructure is often a lonely business.
Sandra Schmidt, Babel, participatory work, 2016
Photo: Why Alix
Outside, in the sun, a game for exhibition visitors designed by Kirsten Wechslberger thematized questions surrounding age, sexual orientation, skin color, health and other issues touching on marginalization. My participation was limited to an animated conversation about tattoos and whether it is possible to feel marginalized when wearing a T-shirt printed with the image of a naked woman in a suggestive pose. The question, I felt, was not so relevant to the wearer of said T-shirt, a softly-spoken man with Down’s Syndrome. For a moment, I envied the white-haired citizen who kept watch on us from the safety of her balcony umbrella above.
Project Space Festival Day 9: Galerie BRD
Moabit’s Stromstraße runs along a construction site, its fencing draped with wine-red banners announcing a new shopping-mall and “studios in heritage-listed buildings designed for artists and creatives”. Shortly before Stromstraße turns off to the next shopping mall and runs in the form of an elevated bridge to Westhafen, the Berlin project space Å+ can be found. Temporarily taken over by Galerie BRD, an initiative invited to Berlin for the Project Space Festival, Å+ hosted second co-operation between two parties who negotiate whether and how they might use one another: Cosmin Covacju and Jasmina Ferouca, both from a Leipzig-based Sinti and Roma community, and Uwe Greiner, who runs a trade in scrap metals with Covacju and accompanies him in his dealings with German authorities. In return, Greiner was the recipient of a letter of recommendation, written by Ferouca, which grants him the hospitality of the Roma community. In every element of this exhibition, cost was weighed up against use – even the scrap metal was carefully sorted and arranged by Covacju and Greiner according to type. The handwritten price and weight of each collection of metal beside each collection was a reminder that the elements of the exhibition had nothing to do with art. They were stored in the project space, to be collected and sold on at a later date. Covacju and Greiner themselves are nowhere to be seen – it wouldn’t have been worth it.
Galerie BRD with Cosmin Covacju, Jasmina Ferouca & Uwe Greiner, Zwei verhandeln, ob und wie sie einander nützen können, installation view, 2016
Photo: Why Alix