Press conference: Thursday, Nov 6 at 4 pm
Opening: Friday, Nov 7 at 6 pm
Screenings + Readings: Nov 8.-12, 7 to 9 pm
Geöffnet: Wed throuh Sat, 1 til 6 pm
Finissage: Dec 1, at 3 pm
On November 7, 2003, the first NO!-ON show of the NO!art movement in Berlin will open in the rooms of the BERLINER KUNSTPROJEKT gallery. The following artists will participate: Boris Lurie (New York), Clayton Patterson (New York), Seth Tobocman (New York), Aldo Tambellini (Cambridge), Amikam Goldman (Tel Aviv), Jean-Jacques Lebel (Paris), Frank-Kirk Ehm-Marks (Berlin), Blalla W. Hallmann (Windsbach), Hansk (Berlin), Harry Hass (Berlin), Dietmar Kirves (Berlin), Enzo Mastrangelo (Berlin), Stu Mead (Berlin), Peter Meseck (Berlin), Bruno S. (Berlin), Naomi T. Salmon (Weimar), Reinhard Scheibner (Berlin), Lars Schubert (Berlin), Klaus Theuerkauf (Berlin), Friedrich Wall (Freienbrink), Mathilda Wolf (Berlin), Natalia E. Woytasik (Berlin), Miron Zownir (Berlin).
NO!art is the strategic juncture where artistic production and social action meet. It is not by yielding, distancing, staying cold, passivity or boredom that art is created, whatever the cynics tell us, but the secret ingredient is something that is difficult to learn, namely courage. - Boris Lurie
The origins of NO!art lie in the historical experience of World War II, rooted in the New York of the early sixties, and are products of the war armies, concentration camps, and the lumpenproletariat. Their targets are the hypocritical intelligentsia, the monetary manipulation of culture, consumer society, and other juggernauts. The goal of NO!art is completely unimpeded self-expression through art, which should lead to social involvement. They are artists of collective confrontation, not easily elated Duchampesques, not neo-Dadaists nor Pop artists. And certainly not genderless background painters of the consumerist middle class, nor of the nouveau riche liberals, but firm in their belief in the unfashionable in art. The NO!-ON SHOW calls for the steering wheel to finally be turned in the essential progressive direction of humanity in its spiritual continuation.
Press invitations to: Deutsche Presseagentur + Deutscher Depeschen Dienst + Reuters + AFP + Deutschlandradio + fritz + inforadio + radiokultur + radiomultikulti + radio1 + ARD + ZDF + 3sat + polylux + FAB + mdr + radio-berlin-brandenburg + art-ambiente + art + artnet + Belser Kunstquartal + Berliner Gazette + Berliner Morgenpost + Berliner Kurier + Berliner Zeitung + Spiegel + Tagesspiegel + WELT + FAZ + Frankfurter Rundschau + Freitag + Junge Welt + Jüdische Allgemeine Wochenzeitung + Jungle World + konkret + kunstforum + Kunstzeitung + taz + TIP + Berliner Morgenpost + Neues Deutschland + Prinz Berlin + Regio artline + scheinschlag + stern + zitty.
Is it an experiment or a perspective of the gallery Berlin art project in Gneisenaustrasse 33 in Kreuzberg? NO!art, confessed and gladly criticized art program founded at the end of the 50s, located in New York City and Berlin, is occupied with a selection of important works in the spacious gallery rooms. After the tour, however, NO!art as a daughter of political Dadaism seems more topical than ever.
The focus is on one of the co-founders of the NO!art movement, the NO!art MAN Boris Lurie. Once born in Leningrad, deported from Riga by the Nazis as a Jew, liberated by the Americans in the Buchenwald satellite camp of Magdeburg, he went to the art metropolis of New York, where his father had fled. The trauma of the past remained and the loss of the beloved sister as well as the beloved mother is present.
"And again you disturb my peace! Skeleton! And standing in front of my bed!"
In Lurie's work, the nightmare finds its sarcastic commentaries in the visual transcripts, in which, however, hope also finds its place.
In a collage work of his, the well-known and harrowing photo of an American liberator of Buchenwald is quoted: Concentration camp prisoners waiting for their freedom behind the barred gate. However, framed by animated ladies in tempting poses. The plump orgy of carnal pleasure in contrast to the forcibly decreed transience of the flesh because of origin and thought.
"The citizen's hat flies from his spiky head, in all the air it echoes like shouting," may come to the mind of many a visitor at the sight of such art work.
Curator ►Dietmar Kirves (Berlin), himself represented with WordPictures and a DollarLenin in the NO! ON-SHOW, has staged a unique show of this group of artists with an interesting supporting program, with a concrete finger pointing at the problems in our society today:
"The storm is here, the wild seas are hopping ashore to crush thick dams".
There are the very idiosyncratic images of ►Bruno S.. The latter became famous as Kasper Hauser, the crowned film of the same name by Werner Herzog, and the strip "Strozyk" by the cult director. Bruno S. survived the extermination program of the Nazis, fled from the state home education of the East, then after an odyssey through homeless asylums in the western part of the city worked for years quite well-behaved, quite respectable until 1992 at Borsig. For more than 30 years, he has documented his life experiences and world views on paper in an unusual way, occasionally still roaming Berlin's backyards with his accordion.
"To each of my music I paint my pictures," it said, singing them to the audience in front of the exhibits: The power is great, The people are small and The ruler is the biggest pig. The power is big. The people are small." And his intense, wordless musical pieces like "Lili (Marleen) Money" bring the alert listener to rhyme on his own: For Muttchen's Nuttchen never again a Wehrmacht soldier, never again a GI. Only for cash now the horizontal is made slippery.
NO!art is not the program without artistic visuality or a concept of anti-art, but rather it is the alternative against staid salon painting and quality-eating art commerce with crass political announcements. NO!art does have marginal contacts with other Dada successors such as Fluxus (via Kaprow and ►Lebel, who was involved in the exhibition) and via the De-Collagen, for example, with Vostell (and his historical Berlin commitment to Hausmann and Hoech), Haines or Koepcke. The NO!artists consider those Dada varieties, as well as Pop Art, to be politically rather benign. Although the Pop artists broke the abstract, fossilized art salon, they ultimately set their icons for the contradictory American society. NO!art poet ►Harry Hass counters, however, "Think of the Electric Chair and other Warhol paintings."
Harry Hass recited his anarchist prayers with theatrical fervor and vodka-stimulated vocal power, a poetic performance power that happens more and more rarely these days. It is the Hegelian contradictions of the most modern coinage in man, in society, in spirit and in being that inspire his linguistic bouts, as with the other NO!artists a contrast of horror and joy, of death and love, of transience and lust, of violence and tenderness. Sensuality of a morbid late bourgeois society. And if the German emperor in Dutch exile chopped the wood for everyone with curses on his former German people as a Biedermann, but the emperor's New Clothes were never striped blue and white, as at all times.
Unfortunately, only a few photographic works by ►Miron Zownir can be seen in this interesting presentation. Zownir had photographed the Berlin punk scene in the early 70s and later documented New York's East Side. But visitors could still see some brilliant short films at the film program evenings, like the one about Bruno S., Die Fremde ist der Tod (The Stranger is Death) or the one with Harry Hass as a bank robber in Jetzt oder Nie (Now or Never) as well as the remarkable flick Dead End.
In addition to the old New York cracks of the NO!art movement such as ►Clayton Patterson and ►Aldo Tambellini, an award-winning pioneer of video and multimedia art, Berliners are also integrated, older ones who belong to the NO!art tribe and younger ones who are committed to NO!art movement.
Remarkable are the electro-animations on paper by ►Mathilda Wolf, who invented the Living Rubber Image and demonstrated it live at events at the Städel, in New York City, and in Berlin, the large-format poster collages by ►Peter Meseck and ►Friedrich Wall, the voyeur paintings by ►Stu Mead recreated in a picturesque setting, the provocative etchings by ►Reinhard Scheibner, or the residual light photographs by ►Natalia E. Woytasik.
In this NO!art attack against conservative taste and modernist forms, there is not only the lament:
"The days have become so still and bright ... I am gripped with fear that I will lose my salvation
if I went to judge my God."
Author's note: I chose the reference to quotations from van Hoddies poems quite simply because the time of expressionism and its environment has probably already knocked on the door in a more modern form, hopefully not with the historical forms, because with minimalist, psychological things you can also terrorize the mind and progress.
Dieter Brookmann is a freelance art journalist and curator in Berlin.