Online presentation of the new acquisitions for the n.b.k. Video-Forum 2019: Screening II.

Monday, May 4, 2020 – Sunday, May 24, 2020

Online Program

Divided into two screenings, n.b.k. presents a selection of the newly acquired video works for the collection of the n.b.k. Video-Forum.

Screening II.

From Monday, May 4, 5 pm, until Sunday, May 24, 2020, 11 pm

With video works by Candice Breitz, Lia Perjovschi, Tomas Schmit, Hito Steyerl

Total length: 118 min

Lia Perjovschi

The Magic of the Gesture (Laces), 1989

PAL, black/white, sound, 3:46 min

The work of Lia Perjovschi (*1961 in Sibiu / Romania, lives in Sibiu and Bucharest) encompasses performances, actions, installations, drawings, and text-based works in which the artist questions the collection, archival, and distribution of knowledge from society, art, and politics. In the mid-1980s, together with Dan Perjovschi, she founded the Contemporary Art Archive / Centre for Art Analysis (CAA/CAA), an ever-changing project which Perjovschi describes as a “context in motion”, an independent art institution, and a dynamic information center. In 1999 she also founded the interdisciplinary Knowledge Museum (KM), which still exists today.

Perjovschi’s early works focused on the physical body as an actor and store of knowledge. She intentionally chose her own apartment, the urban space, and even the university as a setting for her actions. This was also the case for the performative experiment The Magic of the Gesture (Laces) (1989), which she produced in November 1989 in camera with 12 students from various faculties at the Bucharest Academy of Art. In this work, the artist wraps laces around the participants’ arms and legs while they sit in a circle. Each person is thereby connected to four other people and every individual movement affects the whole group. Over time and depending on the movements, the pressure caused by the bands becomes stronger: “Some try to stand up, they get caught in the network at the beginning but they undo their laces when these become unbearable. Some regretted the laces, the connections, others didn’t.” (Lia Perjovschi) The action was accompanied by the improvisations of jazz musician Decebal Badila.

Tomas Schmit

e-constellations, 2004

PAL, color, sound, 25 min (loop)

Tomas Schmit (*1943 in Wipperfürth, † 2006 in Berlin) played a major role in the radical questioning of bourgeois art and the approaches to a new aesthetic within the Fluxus movement of the 1960s and is considered one of its pioneers. In his artistic practice, during which he mainly produced drawings from 1970 onwards, he dealt with language, logic, paradox, biology, behavioral research, and perception in a humorous way, starting out from concrete everyday observations.

The interplay of words and images is of particular importance in Schmit’s work. His late work e-constellations (2004) consists of 200 simple drawings of yellow fixed points and white connecting lines on a black background. Like a mobile, the points and lines constantly give rise to new permutations. Presented one after the other as a digital slide show, they function like a “school of seeing” and are titled by the artist with English terms in a process reminiscent of puzzle games and the interpretation of constellations. Schmit recorded the audio track to e-constellations in one take in his apartment on Linienstrasse 158 in Berlin. Intermittent street noises or scraps of conversation are audible in the background. e-constellations provided Schmit the impetus for a series of further works in which he used audio recordings and the computer as an imaging medium.

Candice Breitz

Factum Misericordia, 2009

From the series Factum, 2010

HD video, color, sound, 51:04 min

The video and photo artist Candice Breitz (*1972 in Johannesburg, lives in Berlin) is a chronicler of the contradictions that haunt popular discourse. Her interest is directed at the dynamics involved in the formation of familiar identities, which she explores through complex video productions, often incorporating mass media images, such as photographs, video clips, and Hollywood films.

The series Factum (2009–2010) uses long interviews to examine the relationship between identical twins and triplets and processes of identity formation in which minute differences can play a major role – as in Factum Misericordia (2009), a portrait of two women over 70 years of age. As in all Factum portraits, both subjects are dressed the same and sit alone during the shot, but each in the same room of their own choice. The visual confusion that stems from the nearly identical faces is thus continued in the setting, which cannot be ascribed to either of the siblings and so seems to both reflect and question the veracity of the life stories that are recounted. The title Factum alludes to Robert Rauschenberg’s pictures Factum I and Factum II (both 1957). Like Breitz’s twins, Rauschenberg’s works are ostensibly identical, but differ significantly in their details.

Candice Breitz is represented with another work in the collection of the n.b.k. Video-Forum: LABOUR (NITUP) was created in 2019 as a co-production for the exhibition Candice Breitz. Labour in the Showroom at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein.

Hito Steyerl

Duty Free Art, 2015

HD video, color, sound, 38:16 min.

Hito Steyerl (*1966 in Munich, lives in Berlin) is one of today’s most influential artists. In times of hyper-capitalism, digital lifestyle, globalization, and increasing political crises, she reflects on our world both artistically and theoretically. In her essay films and large-scale video installations, Steyerl examines the politics of images, questions the power mechanisms inscribed in them, and addresses political conflicts, social change in our technological society, and the workings of our capitalist world.

Duty Free Art is a lecture by Hito Steyerl, which she gave in 2015 at Artists Space in New York, focusing on the economic implications of art. Free trade zones – in which speculative art investments are invisibly bought and sold, tax-free – are an important backbone of the international art business, and function similarly to civil wars. Both facilitate the redistribution of the public good into private hands, and act as a catalyst for global inequality. Steyerl also uses WikiLeaks documents to show how the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, and starchitect Rem Koolhaas served the Syrian Assad regime as museum planners and gentrifiers. Steyerl describes these as the top-down organized conditions of contemporary art production. She proposes a reversal of perspective – in order to reveal from the bottom up – the forces of global economic redistribution that are hidden in art.

Hito Steyerl is represented in the collection of the n.b.k. Video-Forum with a number of other works: The Empty Center (1998), November (2004), Lovely Andrea (2007), After the Crash (2009, n.b.k. co-production), In Free Fall (2010), Strike (2010), Abstract (2012), and Is the Museum a Battlefield? (2013). Neuer Berliner Kunstverein presented Steyerl’s first solo exhibition in a German institution in 2009 and hosted an exhibition of the artist’s latest works in 2019.

n.b.k. thanks all the artists for their consent in being part of this presentation.

Founded in 1971, the n.b.k. Video-Forum with more than 1.700 works of international video art is the oldest and one of the biggest collections of video art in Germany. With the help of the artists’ funding scheme by the Berlin Senate’s Department for Culture and Europe, it was once more possible for the Video-Forum to add further pieces of international video art to its collection.

Screening I. with video works by John Bock, Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Eduard Constantin, Antje Ehmann / Eva Stotz and Clarissa Thieme was on view from April 9 until May 3, 2020.

Der Neue Berliner Kunstverein wird gefördert durch die LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin