shu and joe

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Interview with a cat

July 14, 2008

After going to the Sammlung Hoffmann, I’ve been inspired to do some research on the Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers. I was surprised to discover that he made quite a few films during his career. This isn’t a film, but it’s nearly as interesting. In the 5-minute interview, we realize the answer to Broodthaer’s complicated art questions is often a simple “meow.”

Interview With A Cat 4’54”

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Berlin Transport

Came across this archive of subway seating in Berlin. Photos aren’t of the highest quality, but still a nice visualization of an urban topology I think.

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Sammlung Hoffmann

July 13, 2008

The Sammlung Hoffmann features work from the private collection of Erika and Rolf Hoffmann. Textile magnates, the Hoffmanns began collecting artwork in the late 60’s and grew their diverse collection over the next 40 years. Every Saturday, Erika Hoffmann opens the doors of her Berlin apartment to private tours, allowing groups access to her home and to the collection. She changes the selection of works every July, so viewers have the opportunity to see something different every year. Images courtesy of Sammlung Hoffmann.


Since it’s a private collection housed in the owners’ apartment, visitors must wear felt slippers during the tour.


Erika Hoffmann changes the artworks and rearranges the furniture in her apartment.


A view of the main living room, with a large Frank Stella piece on the far wall.


Sculptures by Francois Morellet.

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Sugimoto in Berlin

The Hiroshi Sugimoto retrospective at the Neue Nationalgalerie is stunning. The work is of course impressive, but its situation in Mies’ “temple of light and glass” really brings the spare lines of Sugimoto’s shadow studies, seascapes and architectural images to the fore.


Ohio Theater, Ohio, 1980, Gelatin silver print, 119.4 x 149.2 cm, Private collection, © Hiroshi Sugimoto, 2008


Mediterranean Sea, Cassis, 1989, Gelatin silver print, 119.4 x 149.2 cm, Private collection, © Hiroshi Sugimoto, 2008

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Burden of Infamy

July 11, 2008

Chris Burden’s 65 foot tall model skyscraper composed of one million enlarged Erector Set pieces was unveiled in Rockefeller Center in June and will be removed a week from today. The piece, titled What My Dad Gave Me, is in line with Burden’s more recent acts of boyish engineering fantasy turned material, but seems quite removed from the 1970s performances of acts of personal risk that established his reputation.


Chris Burden, “What My Dad Gave Me” (2008) at Rockefeller Center. Photo by Stuart Ramson, courtesy Public Art Fund, Gagosian Gallery, and Tishman Speyer

There was a nice piece by Peter Schjeldahl in the New Yorker last year that made sense of this division, suggesting that after Burden’s Doomed (1975), there was no more territory for him to explore in terms of the absolution of ethical responsibility for viewers when confronted with works of art. And so a new course was in order. Most of the canonical pieces from Burden’s early phase can be seen in a 35 minute video that is online at UBUWEB.

One more clip: this is Burden talking about my favorite piece from his oeuvre, Samson (1985), which was installed at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. The piece consists of a 100 ton jack and a turnstile that, with each revolution, slowly applies pressure to the gallery walls. In theory, if enough viewers enter the gallery space, the walls would collapse.

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Updating Germany

July 7, 2008

Nice article about Matthias Böttger and Friedrich von Borries’ upcoming contribution to the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale over at the Goethe Institute site. They have been commissioned to produce the German pavilion for the event, and have chosen to present 100 projects from various German studios that aim at “Updating Germany“.

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Kahntroversy

July 6, 2008

I’ve long been fascinated by Roosevelt Island and Louis Kahn’s 1973 FDR Memorial proposal. The project was never realized due to New York’s financial crisis through the 70s and Kahn’s unexpected heart attack in a Penn Station bathroom in 1974. The south tip of the island, where Kahn’s memorial was to be situated, has become hotly contested ground over the past six months as renewed interest in the FDR project has sparked protest from some local residents who claim that Kahn’s plan will obstruct the sublime panoramic views that the site’s current treeless condition affords.

Presshd.com has uploaded a few video clips related to the ongoing controversy. In the clip below, Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation President Steve Shane take a walk around the project site with Dick Lutz, managing editor of Roosevelt Island’s local paper, the Main Street WIRE.

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Saigon in Berlin

Thanks to Yvonne for giving us the information on the “Little Saigon” of Berlin. Located somewhere (take the M8 towards Ahrensfelde and get off at Herzbergstrasse & Industrie-Gebiet) in the town of Lichtenberg, the Dong Xuan Center is composed of three large warehouses with some small Vietnamese businesses scattered nearby. One enters through a large gate covered with signs in Vietnamese and crosses through a large parking lot before arriving at the market halls. Once inside, there are shops neatly radiating from a narrow main hallway. Each of the three warehouses seem nearly identical to one another, featuring a smattering of restaurants, Vietnamese grocery stores, hardware shops and clothing stores. The atmosphere feels like a bazaar in a big Asian city, only much less crowded and bustling. The shops resembled dollar stores back in the US and featured the same range of ceramic sculptures, fake flowers, waterfall 3D wall clocks and athletic socks. We even picked up a couple pairs of authentic Ambervue sunglasses at one place for a Euro a piece!


The entrance to the Dong Xuan Center. Kind of odd that all the Vietnamese businesses are clustered inside of three warehouses, rather than in a physical neighborhood. It makes me wonder whether there’s another part of town that functions more like a Chinatown or Little Saigon.


The view across the street from the Center. Apparently this is a loading area for shipments from Northern Germany.


The parking lot and entrance to one of the main market halls. It feels like the parking lot at a big Asian grocery store in the US, only with more BMWs and Mercedes.’


A community board with listings for all kinds of services. All in Vietnamese, there’s even a poster for a concert by popstar named Roni Trong.


The strangely empty corridor that runs the length of the market hall. Inexpensive tshirts hang tidily on either side, flanked by “1 Euro” dish cloths and children’s toys.


A woman grills meat for each of the restaurants at a little stand outside.


There were a few restaurants to choose from, but we went for this place because a woman waved us in. Unused to getting such an emphatic welcome, we walked in and took a table with 4 Vietnamese businessmen. The menu was in German and Vietnamese, so we had to use our memories from our Walker street days to recall the meanings of Goi Cun and Bánh canh. I ended up getting beef over rice noodles. Not bad…


The wall on the way out. It looks like all the derelict buildings inside the complex might be redeveloped.

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Floating on the Spreewald

Spreewald is about an hour south of Berlin by train. Mostly inhabited by a Slavic-German minority, the locals speak Sorbish, which supposedly sounds like a mix between Polish and Czech. The area is also known for its canals, which wind through the local towns like country roads. Water travel is sometimes the only way to reach some of the more remote areas of the Spreewald, and summer canoe tourism seems to be booming. We headed out on a Sunday morning, Mario and his daughter, Orianna, in one canoe and Joe and me in the other. According to the guy who worked at the boat rental station, the “short” trip usually takes about 3 hours. “Family pace,” he assured us. It took us 6 hours.


The lush swampland makes for beautiful and relaxing scenery.


Checking the map after one of our many missed turns.


Houses here have red, slanted roofs and seem to be buttressed with walls of cut logs.


The kid at the rental station in all of his Euro 2008 finery.


Almost back.

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Bucky Fuller – On Building Bridges

Although I’ve already missed much of the Buckminster Fuller-related activity taking over New York this summer, I’m still hoping to catch the Whitney’s show, Starting With the Universe. His utopian dreams may not have been realized, but I don’t think his goal of building bridges for the future can be called a failure.

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