shu and joe

Berlin Biennale

Published on April 9, 2008

The fifth Berlin Biennale, titled “When Things Cast No Shadow,” opened on Friday with the exhibition dispersed among four primary locations: Kunst Werke, the Neue National Galerie, the Schinkel Pavillon and the Skulpturenpark Berlin.

We’ve only made it to two of the sites—KW and the Mies van der Rohe-designed Neue National Galerie—but, thus far, the two most engaging pieces I’ve seen have come out of Asia. First is a series of 53 small black and white photographs by Kohei Yoshiyuki taken in various Tokyo parks during the 1970s is captivating. His subjects are the voyeurs who gather in the parks at night to observe couples engaged in intimate acts. The layers of voyeurism multiply as both Yoshiyuki, the photographer, and you, the viewer, stand in line to peek between the bushes. These photos from more than 30 years ago have received a lot of attention lately—an exhibition of them at Yossi Milo Gallery this past winter was featured in the NY Times and the long-out-of-print catalog of the series has been reprinted by Hatje Cantz.

The second piece that stood out was our friend Zhao Liang’s City Scene (2004-2005), a 23 minute video featuring dramatic and humorous vignettes from everyday life in Beijing. Bike riders running down blind men, villagers hurling bricks at each other, a man dwarfed by tower-block apartments practicing his golf swing amid the urban rubble and a German shepherd mounting a cowering Pekinese dog (irony?) are just a few of the sequences offered in City Scene.

Zhao Liang, City Scene, 2004-2005, video transferred to DVD, 23 min.

From inside Mies’ glass pavilion—the Neue National Galerie.

Filed under: Beijing, Berlin

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