Visual Artist Diana Wolzak in Berlin
Art review of Wolzak´s art exhibition Nothing is Ordinary at BBA Gallery in Berlin
Galleries in Berlin are open again and yet I would like to reflect on the last exhibition I went to before the lockdown restrictions were placed on public institutions. The art exhibition called Nothing Is Ordinary took a place at BBA Gallery in Berlin in late March and early April this year. The gallery is a fantastic white cube gallery established in 2017 focussing on Contemporary Art in Berlin. The gallery is known for presenting authentic artworks, advocating artworks with a strong conceptual background.
The above mentioned solo show presented a well established artist, of Dutch origin Diana Wolzak who divides her time between Berlin and London. Wolzak transforms objects of daily use, commonly attributed to females, into objects of art. The new objects of art are stripped of their original function, such as cleaning or making women more attractive, and instead are presented as objects of beauty in themselves. For example a beautiful yellow sponge, traditionally used for scrubbing off dead skin, is outlined with a pearl necklace. The eye catching reference to the imperative of servitude and high expectation for women to wear pearls as a sign of obedience is a crucial aspect of Wolzak´s artwork. The original use of individual objects such brushes, sponges, plastic bags, buttons, bends for perms etc. are turned into objects of adoration placed in the white cube gallery. Wolzak´s artwork well corresponds with false expectations placed on a gallery to exhibit objects of beauty and adoration instead of raising questions and criticism. The artwork brings into question deeply rooted stereotyping of women maintaining the household, as well as stereotypes of what kind of objects should be exhibited in a gallery space.
However, the reason why I have decided to reflect upon this exhibition was the time scale of the project. Wolzak worked on her project for about nine months before installing her art exhibition at BBA Gallery in Berlin in March 2020. When Wolzak started her piece Cosmic Button Balls, the artist was true to her subject matter and used yet again budget priced objects such buttons, pins and polystyrene balls, strongly associated with females roles. The artist remodelled the objects as usual but this time the visual image of the artwork has suddenly changed with the upcoming Convid-19 situation. The finished objects were no longer just about female stereotypes but quickly turned into a visual representation of Convid-19. Why is it that a visual representation of the virus placed under a microscope comes so close to questioning the female position within our society? What is the link between female stereotypes and an exaggerated fear of death? Especially at the beginning of the pandemic when there were no disinfectants available in stores any more, but the passersby could see the objects that looked too much like the scary images of Convid-19. Suddenly, something that sparks fear was placed in the art gallery space to adore. Are we supposed to worship fear? The whole meaning of the art exhibition shifted from feminist only to a mirror of the upcoming situation.
To sum it up, BBA gallery has managed to survive the pandemic, presenting a highly relevant show during the pandemic. Moreover, the art gallery has launched their annual BBA Artist Prize 2020 and has already long listed 14 artists based in Berlin. I am looking forward seeing more amazing shows at BBA Gallery Berlin.