critic, scholar, performer
(not necessarily in that order)
Saturday, February 5, 2011
you'll go down in history
I paid a final visit to the reindeer at the Hamburger Bahnhof yesterday, who come Monday will be shipped back to the North Pole, or wherever they came from, when Carsten Höller's Soma exhibit closes. There is either some funny business going on, or reindeer change color seasonally, because I definitely don't remember seeing a white one on any of my last visits (this was trip number six, I believe). A Guardian article offers some more insight into the "experiment", as well as a gem of a quote from Höller regarding the hallucinogenic mushrooms which half the reindeer are being fed:
"They're very unpleasant...And you throw up. The first four times I tried it, I became comatose. Then you wake up, throw up, and you don't know where you are, or how long you've been asleep. The sixth time, I started to chant like a Tibetan monk."
Sounds like it's time for a collaboration with La Monte Young.
Also closing this weekend at the Hamburger Bahnhof is Some Scenic Views, an exhibition of video art by Philipp Lachenmann (yes, there are two Lachenmanns). I usually lack the patience for video installations, but I was entranced by his SHU (Blue Hour Lullaby), a short loop filming the California Correctional Institutional in the Mojave. The video shows the prison from a distance, framed in an austere, beautiful desert landscape; though the film is sped up to show a full day in twelve minutes, the effect is that of slow hypnosis.
As day turns to night, tens of twinkling stars appear in the sky, and the viewer gradually realizes that they are moving, and blinking. Lachenmann has spliced the prison shot with film of airplanes in approach to runways in Los Angeles, New York, and Frankfurt, producing a majestic, almost science fiction-like imagery. Of course, there is the political subtext of the static prison in juxtaposition with the mythic sense of freedom in flight. But a curator's note points out the work's relation to Caspar David Friedrich, which is apt. SHU conjures less the politics of imprisonment than the subject tackled by Friedrich in his paintings: the skewed relation of man and nature, an uneasy balance of isolation and repose.