Looking back at Berlin Art Week I would like to focus my attention on two artworks by two different artists. The first one is by an internationally proclaimed artist of Georgian origin, Tamara Kvesitadze who is well known for her kinetic sculptures.
Saying that the artwork which I have chosen, took a shape during the lockdown. It is a static installation called Passage, 2020, at Kornfeld Gallery in Charlottenburg.
The white cube gallery of narrow structure and a low ceiling had the opposite lengthy walls painted with black silhouettes of ravens.
Moreover, dozens and dozens of maquettes of the black birds were suspended from the ceiling to evoke an impression of fluidity. All this static movement surged towards the bright end. The destination of all those black birds is a sculpture, an upper chest of a man taking in all the dark thoughts, and transforming them into white birds of positive thoughts.
This installation was produced during the lockdown when we all were surrounded by the negative news blended with hysteria fuelled by the official and unofficial news channels.
To me the installation has a very strong narrative and I was captivated by the accurate resemblance of the everyday situation that each of us faces on a regular basis. All those dark thoughts are like birds circling around our head, manufacturing a sense of man made fear and despair. The ever present heralds of death, casualties, guilt and emotional blackmail have been dooming on us nearly everyday.
Unfortunately, in the midst of this darkness are individual people like me or you. How can we protect ourselves from all the frustration and feelings of despair entering our mind?
From my point of view the installation very well illustrates the scale of the negative feeling as well as the dynamics of fear. The real fear is not one big giant that we might be able to confront like David faced Goliath but it is dozens or perhaps hundreds of tiny little thoughts, voices or birds humming around our head, hard to catch and yet they are always present.
The installation has hinted that it is a long process but at the end of the day there is a silver lining on every grey cloud. Let the pristine thoughts leave our mind! It is our choice whether we subjecte to the heralds of despair and frustration as they enter our mind or if we choose to nurture positive thoughts and face the darkness of our fear.
In regards to man made fear of the unknown the second artwork which caught my attention was by Italian artist Angelo Santo Venerito. Putting aside that he actually belongs to the generation of Arte Povera artists, his artwork Lampesusa, 2020, was one of the deepest artwork I have seen during the Berlin Art Week. The artwork stays faithful to the legacy of Arte Povera using ordinary material and yet there is nothing ordinary about the artwork.
It is just a paper box of vermilion color filled with sand and tiny like skull looking objects spelling the word LAM – PED – USA. Oblivious to the meaning of the word, my interest was drawn to the miniature skulls spelling the word. So, I asked and the artist replied that it is an infamous island in the south of Italy. At one point the media frenzy turned the island into a painstaking symbol of the migration crises in 2015. It is the first land between Africa and Italy and shipwrecks of boats full of refugees are common occurrences like the death of the refugees. He did not have to say more and everybody could understand why they are miniature skulls unfolding on the beach sand.
Being inquisitive as I am I kept asking questions and found out that the miniature skulls are actually matured seeds of flowers called Gladiole. The seeds have three holes. Two of them look like holes for eyes and the third one is a little bit lower like a hole where the mouth is. If it is placed in a right angle then the seed truly looks like a human skull. Seeds are something that spreads life but to some, who are not aware of a full context like me, it might indicate death.
If I go deeper and think about the analogy of the seeds as something preserving life in the same way when the refugees flee their home country in order to protect their own life. However, instead of finding a safe place where they can settle, nurture and grow, they either encounter death on a sea trying to reach the coasts or dead end. Due to the local bureaucrats who are not able to provide efficient help and support. Then the refugees end up as victims of human trafficking or turn to crime in order to survive. The files about their crimes or victimhood end up unsolved and untouched in the vermilion boxes on the small island of Lampadusa.
At first, the arrival of the refugees attains a wave of hatred, then the senseless fear of Covid-19 revolves around our heads like the ravens from Kvesitadze´s artwork. Why is it that people need to fear something? Why cannot we live without fear?