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Sparwasser Hq

Offensive für zeitgenössische Kunst und Kommunikation
Torstrasse 161
10115 Berlin Mitte
Telefon 0174-2577729
Öffnungszeiten: Mi -Fr 16-19 Uhr, Sa 14-18 Uhr
aktuelle Ausstellung / current exhibition
vorausgegangene Ausstellung / previous exhibition



30.01. - 10.03.2004

push the envelope!

maryam jafri
valerie tevere
lars mathisen
matthew buckingham


Sparwasser HQ
Offensive für zeitgenössische Kunst und Kommunikation
Torstrasse 161, 10115 Berlin
Öffnungszeiten: Mi-Fr 16-19, Sa 14-18
Samstag 14. Februar offen 11 bis 20 Uhr.


Going to the edge, or optimising something beyond expectations in order to find different kinds of truth, is the logic that ties together these four artists from the US and Denmark. The exhibition assesses various displacements in culture that frustrate reality and subjectivity and render them unstable. In this way, the works in the exhibition go beyond the documentary through various strategies of dramatisation, narration and manipulation to create a kind of bouncing effect in time and space, and in this way come to grips with notions of an elsewhere. A common trait between the artists is a simultaneous gaze on the historical and the everyday event, where subjective micro-narrative meet with the big time span of global events. In this way, limit conditions are sought out and attempts at interpretation radicalised.

maryam jafri
In Maryam Jafri''s 'Theatre' (Video, 2001) the artist plays two characters that can be seen as two distinct people and also as different sides of the same self. The two characters are completing each other's sentences and reliving a moment when both, or perhaps only one of them, first came on stage. What happens onstage parallels what happens offstage, what happens backstage influences what happens onstage. However, in the video no stage is ever seen, time and place are presented solely through language. Physical and mental space collapse into one, allowing the backstage world to function in part (but not only) as a metaphor for the unconscious. The language hovers between speech and thought, collapsing stage directions (i.e. "I enter", "I turn to the left", etc), internal thoughts ("I'm nervous") and conventional stage dialogue into one text, giving the narrative its labyrinthine structure.

valerie tevere
Valerie Tevere's 'Two City Tour' (Video, 2002/2003) are two videos (excerpted from her work 'Palm Trees on Madison Avenue' and 'Vertical City on the 101') that explore projections of urbanity and how the formation of two US cities is shaped in the collective imaginary. ëTwo City Tourí focuses on the locating of Los Angeles in New York and the situating of New York in Los Angeles. The 'bi-coastal' journey follows threads of travel through NYC and LA that complicate the myths of each city. Each video follows a distinct route produced by different mappings. In one video, the maps are set by the NYC and LA phonebooks. The artist searched these to interview NY businesses named after LA. Then, in LA, she did the opposite - set up interviews with businesses named after NYC. Through the operation of naming, these commercial entities function on nostalgia and dislocation, and from one place they refer to another whose imagined essence has been packaged for consumption. In the other video, the maps are produced by perceptions of NY and LA residents who have never visited the other city. Together (Tevere and interviewee) travel to locations in NYC and LA that, for each interviewed, reference a LA or NY only visited in the mediated imaginary.

lars mathisen
Based on found footage, Lars Mathisen's short film 'Document in the Past Perfect' (Video, 1994/2004) is a framing of 20th century ideologies and dreams of liberation. Document in the Past Perfect stages the period 1932 - 1985 by juxtaposing two different films in a montage format. The one is an unknown Danish family's 18mm home film taken before and after WW2. Here, a deadpan camera registers happy holiday moments as well as the 1936 Berlin Olympics and the World Exhibition in Paris (1937). Subsequently, with the same lack of involvement, we are shown the liberation of Denmark in May 1945. The second part of the film is a first generation erotic movie from 1972, which shows a student's party developing into carnality. The newly legalised pornography's liberating promises are reflected in the actors' unworried frolicking, conveying an air of self-unconscious innocence. The entire montage is accompanied by the obsessive rant of the convicted murderer Charles Manson, who from his prison cell projects his messianic views on to the world. Through an un-dramatic slide from normality to perversion, 'Document in the Past Perfect' implicitly challenges the way the 20th century welfare state promised its citizens freedom.

matthew buckingham
Matthew Buckingham's 'The Six Grandfathers, Paha Sapa, in the Year 500,002 C.E.' (Text & photo, 2002) considers the historical and future conditions of one of America's most iconic symbols of patriotism - Mount Rushmore. The monument memorialises the birth, growth and development of the USA, the massive portraits of four American presidents - Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln - carved into the mountain that the Sioux called the Six Grandfathers. Imagining the monument's distant future, the work comprises a b/w photograph of Mount Rushmore that the artist has digitally altered to portray its appearance five hundred thousand years from now. The result sustains a tension between fantasy and its realisation as the four presidential heads are erased by the mountain's slow erosion. By transferring current anxieties about democracy and belonging onto a projected future landscape, Buckingham addresses the irony of Mount Rushmore's return to a more or less natural state. Apart from the photo, a time-line exposes some of the hidden and not-so-hidden details of Mount Rushmore's contested history. By unravelling suppressed or distorted accounts of violent conflict from the past and the present, Buckingham offers a panoramic view of the paradoxes that such sites and symbols generate. It is telling, for instance, that the Shrine of Democracy - as Rushmore was officially designated - was carved out of sacred land taken illegally from the Sioux by an artist who had been a secret but active member of the Ku Klux Klan.


"Old Habits Die Hard"
ist bis 14. February 2004 in Norwich Gallery, GB zu sehen
bis 7. March 2004 in Kunstnernes Hus, Olso, Norway zu sehen




February 2,2006. at 6-10 pm

Sparwasser would like to invite you to an evening in the auditorium in Hamburger Bahnhof on Thursday, February 26. at 6-10 pm
address: Invalidenstrasse 51, Berlin (S-Lehrter Bahnhof)
The evening will be held in English.

Starting as early as at six o'clock
the artist Oliver Ressler (Wien) will be screening his videos
"Disobbedienti" (54 Min., 2002) and
"This is what democracy looks like!" (38 Min., 2002)

In contrary to the earlier screenings of the videos in Berlin, (Büro Friedrich 2004 and Barbara Thum 2003), the artist himself is here and we can focus and ask him questions.

Our second guest is the Danish curator Tone O. Nielsen, now based in Copenhagen, presenting a project of hers
Democracy When? Activist Strategizing in Los Angeles.
that she did in 2002 while living in LA.

The two, artist and curator, of our Thursday evening have in each their way an artistic practice, that is energized from their political awareness.

Like the artist dialogs in Sparwasser "Consequences of Summer" this event can be described as a dialogue on artistic practices and contemporary cultures, as a collective think tank for the exchange and rethinking of activist strategies and practices.


Do visit the web sites of the artist/curator



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