Posts Tagged ‘Germany’
February 12, 2013 | by Zeke Turner
One morning my first summer in Berlin, I woke up alone in a park with a piece of sweaty plastic wrap around my forearm. I still had the tattoo. I still didn’t have my keys.
Fabian had given me the tattoo lying in his bed the night before. We met in a club thirty-six hours earlier, on Sunday afternoon, after I tried to pick up his roommate, a brooding Austrian boy with shoulder-length blond hair who was sitting alone away from the dance floor. He had a homemade tattoo of a sword on his wrist. His roommate had made it, he said, and did I want to meet him? They both turned out to be straight, and we spent the rest of the day dancing together and sharing our drinks and our cigarettes and whatever else we had.
Another Sunday afternoon dancing at the same club, a Portuguese friend stopped me and asked, “Americans come here for the freedom, right?” Another Sunday there, a Scottish boy asked me if I moved to Berlin “just to have fun.” Usually in these situations I say, “I guess so.” Nobody with pupils that size could have patience for a real answer. Read More »
July 11, 2012 | by Liz Brown
Michelangelo Antonioni was not happy with the grass. This was the summer of 1966, and London was experiencing an extreme drought. The director had shot the pivotal scene in Blow-Up where David Hemmings photographs an unconsenting Vanessa Redgrave and her lover, and maybe, or maybe not, a murder at Maryon Park. But the grass looked terrible, scraggy and yellow, so Antonioni had the crew spray-paint it green, and then shot the whole sequence again.
Antonioni would’ve approved of the grass in Kassel, though. It was incredibly green, food-coloring green. The leaves, too. The city, at the northern tip of the province of Hesse, in the middle of Germany, is known for having been nearly obliterated by Allied bombs in World War II and for Documenta, the hundred-day international exhibition of 150 contemporary artists that takes place every five years. I was there with my girlfriend, Liza, for the event's thirteenth incarnation, but at some point, everyone I met would mention the destruction—whether to explain the city’s history of manufacturing weapons or the blocky postwar architecture.
The painter and professor Arnold Bode organized the first Documenta in 1955 in order to exhibit publicly the “degenerate” art that had been banned under the Third Reich. The work of prewar and wartime modernism was displayed in the ruins of the Fridericianum Museum, not just as an act of recovery but of testimony, too. This year, the director is Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, and the exhibition spread beyond the renovated Fridericianum to the main square, the train station, the Brothers Grimm Museum, the sprawling Karslaue Park, and more. There were paintings, installations, films, performances, lectures, seminars, and, as described in the press packet, “periodic activity.” I was there for three days, which is enough time to realize how little time that is, especially since this year Documenta extends beyond Kassel to Alexandria, Cairo, and Kabul, where ruins, recovery, and testimony are not distant concepts.
February 21, 2012 | by Perrin Drumm
On February 26, approximately forty million people will tune into ABC to watch the eighty-fourth Academy Awards. It was around this time eighty-three years ago that the first winners of the Academy Award of Merit were notified, via telegraph, even though it would be another three months before the ceremony itself took place—an event that drew an audience of only 270 people, each of whom paid five dollars for a private dinner at the Roosevelt Hotel. While guests dined on filet of sole sauté au buerre and half-broiled chicken on toast, master of ceremonies Douglas Fairbanks dispensed with the awards in a mere fifteen minutes. There were no speeches and no cameras. It was the only untelevised Academy Awards in history.
There aren’t too many people who are still under the impression that the Oscars shine an unbiased eye on all the films of the year. But, in fact, it was never intended to be an impartial awards ceremony. According to MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, who created the awards, “the best way to handle [filmmakers] was to hang medals all over them ... If I got them cups and awards they’d kill themselves to produce what I wanted. That’s why the Academy Award was created.” Predictable though they may now be, even the most jaded of cinephiles can’t help but get at least a little excited when the nominations are announced each year.
Only this year one not-so-predictable contender was announced: the unlikely audience favorite The Artist swept up ten Oscar nominations, including Best Motion Picture. If it wins it will be only the second silent film in history to win in the category. The other was Wings, a war film by William A. Wellman, which won Best Picture at the very first Academy Awards.
This fact alone is a point of contention. In 1929 the Best Picture award was split into two separate categories, Unique and Artistic Production, which went to F. W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Tale of Two Humans, and Outstanding Picture, Production, which went to Wellman’s action-packed WWI aviation adventure. The next year, when the award was consolidated into the single Best Motion Picture, it was Wings that went down in the books as the sole winner and, according to many historians, as the last great silent film. Read More »
May 12, 2011 | by Emilie Trice
The passenger looked down at the map in his hands, printed on the back of an exhibition invitation. “I haven’t seen her in more than ten years,” he said, referring to the artist Marilyn Minter.
“That’s really nice of her to invite you,” I replied while downshifting and turning off the autobahn.
We’re thirty minutes late, driving to Minter’s first exhibition in Germany, an ambitious survey of her work over the past two decades, as well as early photographs she took—while still an undergraduate art student—of her mother, a drug addict. (These photographs caught the eye of Diane Arbus when she visited the class.) Their portrayal of Minter’s mother, surrounded by instruments of vanity, would set the precedent for the artist’s critique of glamour, artifice, and the cult of beauty.
I first saw Minter’s work on billboards around Manhattan in 2006, when Creative Time commissioned the campaign. The painting Stepping Up (2005), a close-up of a woman’s dirty ankle and blackened sole, balancing on a bejeweled Dior heel, was among the most memorable for me: it was a feminist hijacking of high-fashion marketing and lifestyle propaganda. That same year, a work by Minter was selected as the coveted cover image for the Whitney Biennial catalogue. Minter’s art, both glamorous and gruesome, portrays the trappings of a particular elite milieu. It’s both seductive and self-destructive, decadent and voracious—a mix of high society, profane beauty, and eroticism in today’s culture of consumption.
January 28, 2011 | by Lyonel Feininger
Untitled (Night View of Trees and Streetlamp, Burgkühnauer Allee, Dessau), 1928.
August 10, 2010 | by Josh Lieberman
Rother is co-creator of the influential seventies German band Neu!. (Though talking about them is indeed exciting, that exclamation point is actually part of the band's name.) Neu! hasn't been an active band for some time now: they recorded their fourth and final album in 1986, though for various reasons it was finally released just a few weeks ago. In 2008 the other Neu! co-creator, Klaus Dinger, died. So the idea of ever seeing Neu! music live seemed unlikely.
Yet there I was last Wednesday at Maxwell's. I was alone, because no one I'm interested in is interested in Michael Rother. This is not music you can drag your girlfriend to, or at least I can't—mine said that the show would just be people standing there bobbing their heads forward in 4/4 time. (Which was true.) Most Neu! songs are completely instrumental, perhaps the biggest hurdle for many people. I also tried to persuade a high school friend to come (he'd never heard of Neu!) but even after we'd had a few drinks, and even after I'd offered to pay for his ticket, I found myself going it alone.
Given the resistance of both girl- and high school friends to seeing one half of a band they don't care about, it was perhaps no surprise that the place wasn't full. I was leaning on the bar with my bourbon, half-listening to the ethereal opening act, when I noticed Michael Rother standing next to me.
Of course, when you see an artist you admire, your first thought is, "What should I say to him?" To which the answer is: nothing. Because there's rarely anything to say to someone you don't know, except perhaps "They say on Monday it'll cool off" or "Milk, no sugar." Yet music (like books, or movies) gives us the strange impression that this person is anything other than a stranger.
I went up to Michael Rother and said, rather lamely, "You're Michael Rother?" "Yes," he said. "I just thought I'd shake your hand," I said, and I did, and he laughed. Our meeting wasn't much—these things generally aren't—but at least I made Michael Rother laugh. Then I ordered another bourbon.
Right before the show began I walked straight to the front of the crowd. At a general admission show this is sometimes a difficult and rude thing to do, but it's not as if the venue was at capacity. The room had filled by now, though not with girls—I counted seven in total. The crowd was almost completely white and in their thirties. I saw many pairs of glasses and one-and-a-half violations of the first rule of concert going: don't wear a shirt featuring the performer you're going to see. (A guy in a Kraftwerk shirt was the half-violation—Michael Rother was an early member of that group.) I stood in front of where Rother would be. The table which supported Rother's laptop—not a Mac, surprisingly—rested for some reason on four paint cans.
They began. I won't describe the show at length. I once heard that describing music is like doing card tricks on the radio, and that's true. I will say that it was arguably the best concert experience I've ever had. Last year's Leonard Cohen show was incredible; Van Morrison's Astral Weeks in concert had quasi-religious power. But I couldn't believe the intensity of being in such a small room with this music, with its booming, propelling drumming, its repetition, repetition, repetition, and then playful, slight variation. The music's power is so primitive that in theory all humans should love it, but as we have seen this isn't the case. To say that the music of Neu! has held up well over time is like saying the same about the ocean: it's so obvious that even mentioning it seems silly. This is music that doesn't sound like it was created decades ago—it sounds like it is created the second it is played, or maybe even a moment or two in the future. The name Neu! ("new" in German) couldn't be more appropriate.
During the show the only time a microphone amplified voice was when Rother introduced the band. Then he quickly began another song, saying, with Teutonic terseness, that he didn't want to "waste so many words." He'd used maybe fifteen.
When it ended I hung around for a few minutes, snagged the setlist from the stage, and walked to the PATH train. I'd never witnessed such a perfect concert. If only I could've found someone to go with.
Towards the end of my trip home I ran into another high school friend. He's someone who knows a thing or two about music and I expected him to have heard of Neu!. He hadn't. I thought of telling him to go to Michael Rother's free Lincoln Center show on Friday.
But no. I didn't want to waste so many words.
Josh Lieberman lives in Brooklyn, New York.