Pfingsten (Whitsun)

Today it’s Pfingsten (Whitsun) and all shops will be closed today. It’s not a holiday in the USA and by now that’s my point of orientation. We are in vain trying to walk and find an open store, but ultimately realize it’s a national holiday and no one will be working. We take the U-Bahn to Friedrichstrasse and walk to Unter den Linden. From the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Unter den Linden it’s only a small walk to the German annex of the Guggenheim Museum, a collaboration between the Deutsche Bank and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Here the exhibition ‘Global Groove 2004’ is shown, Nam June Paik’s homage to Media Arts. The exhibit is a collage of his works in the late 60s and early 70s, centering around his classic work “Global Groove” from 1973, broadcasted on WNET/Thirteen.

Many exhibitions are full of contrast and ambiguity, not as work on itself, but as an exhibited work in an exhibition space with visitors. The work is made with so much commitment, and visitors who are interested in the work themselves often possess a certain commitment, but there is the inevitable separation between the product of the artist and the passive presence of the visitor, lacking the interaction.

The introverted effect is obviously there, but is rarely expressed, and this causes often the humurous scenes. At the Nam June Paik exhibit there are three screens, one after the other positioned, with the largest filling the complete back wall of the room. On the side walls, enlarged candle light flames flicker monotonously. The half darkened rectangular room colors beautifully. The speakers broadcast commentary and soft music from the first screenset. In the front of the room it is difficult to hear. There is virtual border that restrains people from walking right in front of the large screen, yet here the visual impact is most overwhelming. The large screen at points is subdivided in smaller parts, the lowest bar running along the full width.

A woman and an old male dance, their modern moves repetitiously shown, while the first screen runs a news announcer with a warning voice, seen in between the eroticizing image of a woman’s naked legs. Most of the screen shots are manipulated into figures of primal colors in large pixels. It is unclear if the effect upon me now in 2004 is still as estranging as in the early days of television. The effect is mostly esthetic, visually and tonal.

In the evening we return to the Sony Center and gratefully make use of the free hotspot that is available. We spent a few hours working on Szirine Magazine, and it is good to be confronted physically again with it. The holiday atmosphere that so far has dominated our stay ought to be replaced with a productive routine. The idleness starts to be a burden, and our time will be more fulfilling when it’s spent on the passions we pursue.

Finished Reading: Wibke Bruhns, Meines Vaters Land (München 2004)

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