This year I was lucky enough to go to both Paris and Berlin with the University. Both these trip enabled me to widen my knowledge of two cultures and also experience different art and design locations within Europe.
The first trip to Paris took place in November coinciding with the famous Paris Photo exhibition.
As most of the group had only come for the day, the Paris Photo exhibition was the main part of the trip. It was held in the Grand Palais near the bank of the Seine. For 3 days the Grand Palais was turned into a Photo fair representing 136 International Galleries. The event itself was great and showed a range of different photos, curation and alternative photo methods and production. The space itself was an Art Nouveau style, the complemented the very modern layout, Although the space showed such varied examples there was a lot of people and it became crowded, there was some cases where you could not stand back and look at the images. I understand this is a photographic showcase however it was hard to appreciate it as a gallery space.
I found this mirrored piece exciting, using the photo layers the artist has created a nebula like effect that incorporates the viewer as they see their reflection in the work. The three placed together on the wall in this way makes it look strong and the viewer could feel they are travelling through different pieces by looking at the three pieces.
I thought this piece was interesting due to its use of the accent colour pink. Each photo contained and was almost taken over by this colour in such a strong way it becomes quickly the focal point of the image. How the images are set up again shows this strength. I wonder however if this is a common plant in the places the images were taken or where they cleverly photoshopped.
In Paris I also got the chance to go to Palais de Tokyo. This gallery space had a current exhibition, an interactive one and a live one. It was great having all of this available during the day we went there. The current exhibition was insightful and took us on a journey around different artists and genres. The first piece we were greeted with at the entrance of the gallery was Inside, a massive installation made entirely of tape. This installation was interactive, the viewer could explore the piece from within. Using a ladder the viewer climbs into the installation and is suspended above the gallery. This piece aims to provide visitors with a journey both physical and psychic. I found the piece really exciting and the way the viewer can interact with the piece is something I have personally not seen a lot of. When inside the piece it becomes a completely different world and a different universe. It also evokes fear being suspended in the air by a tunnel of sellotape.
In the bigger gallery, a piece that interested me a lot was called I is by artist Ryan Gander. The marble sculptures depict ephemeral huts built by his young daughter. They are a symbol of protection solid but impenetrable. They have characteristics of of classical sculptures. I found these really appealing and the light they were set it highlighted their contours in a strong way. I thought the choice of materials added to the theme and context of the piece and it became interesting to discover the connection between his real life and his art.
At the end of the bigger exhibition space, there was a current exhibition where an artist, Sven Sachsalber, is performing his piece “Looking for a Needle in a Haystack”. This piece is what is says in the title, the artist was looking for a needle in a haystack. It was interesting to sit for a while and observe this quite peaceful action of the artist patiently searching for this lost needle.
The Berlin trip took place in April over four days. It was an opportunity to explore a different culture and gain more knowledge of the Berlin art scene.
On our first day we took the chance to go to the Brandenburg Gate and the Jewish Memorial. These were two landmarks of Berlin that were a insightful beginning to our trip in this historically rich city. It helped me to understand about the events that took place in Berlin over the course of history. This was highlighted by a trip to see Checkpoint Charlie and a section of the Berlin wall later during the week.
On the second day we got to go to an artist studio in Berlin. We had a chance to talk to the artist, Rebecca Partridge, and discover her path after University. She spoke to us about how she creates her pieces layering oil paints and brush strokes. She also explained to us how her studio rent is a lot cheaper in Berlin than in the UK, what was meant to be a year trip turned into six years.
I was invaluable to see an artist having left university and having her own studio in Berlin and get advice from her having been through what we are going through.
After this we stopped to get some lunch and continue our adventure. We discovered Checkpoint Charlie and a section of the Berlin Wall. This was followed by looking around a gallery a short walk away that showed a variety of modern art.
The last thing we did with our day was go to Staatliche Museen where I got the chance to see a Mario Testino exhibition. I have always had an interest in the photography of Testino and it was amazing how cheap the ticket was to go and see an exhibition of a famous photographer. The exhibition took place over two floors which were curated in a similar way. Each digital image was blown up to pieces about a metre high and two metres wide. The images were backlit from behind and the room was dark only lit with spotlight dotted all over the room. This highlighted each image and gave the room and interesting curational aspect that I had never experienced before. The rooms were spacious and I could appreciate each image from a distance and up close. Some of his images had been taken using a film camera, you could tell this up close by the grain on the photo. This meant they could not be blown up as big. However these images still complemented the bigger colour images even though they were on a completely different scale.
The next day we had an organised trip to Hamburger Bahnhof. This is a gallery just outside of the centre that used to be an old train station. I really enjoyed walking round this gallery and it was huge so there was a lot of things to see and do. Starting off I found myself looking around a part of the gallery that did not really appeal to me, I felt like it had a deep apocalyptic undertone and I felt like that had fear element to it. However this was not the case, after reading more into the first two gallery spaces I was surprised to find this was not the case. A selection of works by Joseph Beuys including a series of rocks named “The End of the Twentieth Century” was a dynamic plane of action highlighting human beings as active creatures. At a first glance the artist states that he feels people will think of apocalyptic pessimism and fin de siecle gloom however this was not the intention of the artist. Moving on from this we were shown other installation works. I found these pieces interesting however I struggled to understand the meanings of each individual piece. The gallery space was curated effectively and left the viewer enough room to look at the discover the sculpture and installation. Although the work did not appeal to me I though it was great to be able to see work of such an influential character.
In the gallery at this time there was an enormous commission piece called Moby Dick created Michael Beutler. This stood in the main hall of the gallery and filled up the space. From my first glance I could not tell the materials that were in use. Coming closer I saw the material used were bamboo, string and different kinds of tissue paper. These seemed like craft materials that had quite simple characteristics however seeing all these materials put together in a setting they became alive. The construction of a piece which I can only describe as installation sculpture became almost a different universe to the gallery. Walking through the massive pieces we discovered a piece balanced on water. It looked like a giant tent from the outside and the inside was hollow and had seats inside allowing for the viewer to sit down. When you sat down inside it felt like you were in a boat floating on the water. The materials acted like a sound barrier, you felt completely immersed in the piece.
The lines of the sculpture were interesting too, I made several drawings of these walking around this space.
After this we got an opportunity to do what we wanted in the afternoon. We had some lunch and then decided to go and see the Film and Television Museum based at the Sony Centre. This museum is very in depth looking at German film and television throughout the 19th and 20th century. I found this insightful and was excited to see The Cabinet of Doctor Calgari, a film that was in our first brief, Night Watch. It was amazing to see the birth and growth of German film and how that has influenced overseas film industry. I would find it interesting to watch more German films and I feel they could inspire me.
On our final day in Berlin we got to see the Bauhaus Museum, this was one that I was very exited to explore. It was great that we had the opportunity to have an audio guide. I learnt about the Bauhaus and their unity between Art and Technology. This built on Society and Educational needs and became the symbol of modern design. I got really inspired by designs such as The Red Cube, a detached family house with shape and colour mimicking that of Kandinsky, and the Light Prop, a kinetic sculpture that shows both light and movement. I really appreciated Marianne Brandt’s Coffee and Tea set made of steel, ebony and glass. I found the shape and materials used modern, I like how this fitted in to the theme of bauhaus. The layout of the museum was really clear and spotlights focussed on each object illuminating it.
Overall I really enjoyed my time in Berlin, it was great to see another art culture and more exciting exhibitions. I thought the alternative curation methods that I have seen have inspired me for my upcoming projects and I know that having opportunities to go abroad and see a different environment is invaluable.