Berlin Day Two, afternoon

Monday May 29, 2017 continued

This afternoon we saw the Fahrbereitschaft [which translates motor pool or driving readiness – ?], with the Haubrok Collection. The series of buildings have a colorful history in the former East Berlin.  Purchased in its original condition more than two decades after the fall of the regime, a guardhouse, a sauna, and a bowling alley remain as reminders of its former purpose.1  If you’re interested, read this English translation of the complex’s background: driving readiness.

Our guide for the week is an art curator from England, who put together our Programme.  This is what she said of the Collection:

This is a collection focusing on conceptual art built up by Barbara and Axel Haubrok.  Frank Hauschildt, who works with the Haubroks, will lead a tour of the site and explain its history after which we will visit the exhibitions and several artists’ studios.  Axel Haubrok will meet the group and discuss the collection during the drinks reception.

I absolutely loved 100 Boots by Eleanor Antin, 1973 when I first saw the black and white photos in some magazine in the 70’s.  So quirky.  These are just six of the many.  Unfortunately, they were behind reflecting glass, so you can see me taking the photos.  (You can google them and see much better images.)  A record of performance art.  100 Boots in a Field, 100 Boots on the Job, 100 Boots out of a Job, 100 Boots Try Again, 100 Boots Enter the Museum, 100 Boots Move On.






This is how Antin has described the conception of her 100 Boots series: “Somehow it came to me in a dream. There! Black boots! Big black boots. I got them at the Army-Navy Surplus then I printed them up on postcards. Over the course of it — finally two and a half years — fifty-one cards were mailed out to about a thousand people around the world. Now it is  a piece that I see as a kind of pictorial novel that was sent through the mail, came unannounced, unasked for. It came in the middle of people’s lives….It spilled out of their mailboxes along with bills, letters, newspapers, Christmas cards, divorce papers. They could tape it to the fridge, tuck it away in a drawer, throw it in the trash.”
Through the simultaneously haunting and humorous photos, Antin had found her first group to direct. She had also portrayed a clear character: an everyman with the might of fifty people, and as powerless as none. We follow 100 boots in its pursuit of survival, justice, and an expansion of consciousness. And by following 100 boots, we each become an extra pair. In essence, by simply having people look at the series, Antin has helped foster a unity among us. You could say that those boots represent us, all who have viewed them, as scattered as we are by place, time, and ideology. Is this a bit authoritarian? Sure, but isn’t all art authoritarian at some level? And that’s when the fact that these are military boots comes back around.2

I did not know of Allan Kaprow’s Pose before I saw this show, but I found this greatly amusing too.  Carrying chairs through the city. Sitting down here and there. Photographed. Pix left on the spot. Going on.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

A two day performance where Kaprow and his friends walked around Berkeley carrying chairs. Pictures were taken periodically and left on the site where they were sat upon. The documentation of this performance is printed on seven loose sheets and bound in a manila envelope.3

I also love Mason Williams’ Sunflower.
Many in our group couldn’t get their heads around Conceptual Art.  Here is the Synopsis that our TMA curator gave us:

Conceptual art is a movement that prizes ideas over the formal or visual components of art works…
Conceptualism took myriad forms, such as performances, happenings, and ephemera. From the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s Conceptual artists produced works and writings that completely rejected standard ideas of art. Their chief claim – that the articulation of an artistic idea surfaces as a work of art – implied that concerns such as aesthetics, expression, skill and marketability were all irrelevant standards by which art was usually judged. So drastically simplified, it might seem to many people that what passes for Conceptual art is not in fact “art” at all, much as Jackson Pollock’s “drip” paintings, or Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes (1964), seemed to contradict what previously had passed for art. But it is important to understand Conceptual art in a succession of avant-garde movements (Cubism, Dada, Abstract Expressionism, Pop, etc.) that succeeded in self-consciously expanding the boundaries of art…4

The galvanised steel ducts used by the late German artist Charlotte Posenenske were not appreciated by most of the group.  This from Wikipedia:

In 1968 Posenenske published a statement in the journal Art International referencing the reproducibility of her works, and her desire for the concept and ownership of the piece to be accessible:

I make series
because I do not want to make individual pieces for individuals,
in order to have elements combinable within a system,
in order to make something that is repeatable, objective,
and because it is economical.
The series can be prototypes for mass-production.
They are less and less recognisable as “works of art.”
The objects are intended to represent anything other than what they are.

Our curator had also given us a Synopsis of Minimalism:

Minimalism emerged in New York in the early 1960s among artists who were self-consciously renouncing recent art they thought had become stale and academic. A wave of new influences and rediscovered styles led younger artists to question conventional boundaries between various media. The new art favored the cool over the “dramatic”: their sculptures were frequently fabricated from industrial materials and emphasized anonymity over the expressive excess of Abstract Expressionism. Painters and sculptors avoided overt symbolism and emotional content, but instead called attention to the materiality of the works…5

In the last building were beautiful fabric hangings, but I neglected to record the name of the artist.  (Email me if you know.)


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