Sunday, July 12, 2009

International Sand Sculpture Competition

I visited Berlin recently (amazing) and whilst wandering around the area near the central train station attempting to find the Hamburger Banhof Museum for Contemporary Art (it was oddly difficult for me to locate the entrance), I stumbled across an uncharacteristically sandy area labeled "Sandstation". Entering the space for a small fee of 5 Euro, I found a beachy haven with large umbrellas, beach chairs, beer stands (naturally, this is Germany), and a host of fascinating and incredibly impressive sand sculptures from a collection of international artists.

The first section was devoted to animal subjects, and included a little area for kids to make their own sand creations. I dug the elephant by Johanna Landscheidt and two-headed dragon from Lena Tempich the most.

The main portion was the competition itself, with the theme "City of the Future", so many works involved robotic or computer imagery. I really enjoyed every piece- it was consistently astounding to see the level of detail and the scope of the designs (full view on the photos is recommended). There was a good blend of conceptual and literal interpretations of the challenge. I wish I could have seen the artists' building processes, since I'm pretty baffled by how they achieved certain effects. The following is a selection of my favorites (which is the bulk of entries in the competition, really).

Escape from Virtuality by Ukranian artist Irina Taflevskaya was easily my favorite. It's bold and striking, with a fantastic concept and straightforward, uncluttered execution. Caught my eye instantly, even from beyond the area's surrounding fence.

Indian artist Sudarsan Pattnaik imagines an idealistic future with City of Peace, showing Buddha visiting Berlin during its peaceful time, with elements of Indian architecture incorporated into the composition.

Seven artists from different countries worked together on the monumental Berlin in 2222, a sprawling, mountainous piece combining jagged tiers with various figural elements. It was very hard to get a full photo of it due to its size, but here are some detail shots. The artists are: Lisa Buchholz, Johanna Landscheidt, Edwin Spaan, Lena Tempich, Martin Tulinius, Niels Vegter, and Johannes Weckl.

Shift by Toshihiko Hosaka of Japan is an interesting mix of human features with hard, industrial surfaces, and a little bit of outer space thrown in. I like the overall shape very much (he was inspired by Mt Fuji as well as Berlin's Sony Center ceiling) and really appreciate the detail and texture of the hands and figure.

Berlin-based artist Ulrich Baentsch paid homage to Rodin with The Thinker. As I approached I thought it was just his own sandy version of the classic sculpture, but seen from the other side it is revealed to be partially composed of "bricks" cracking through the smooth facade.

Danish artist Maria Eliot Torp brings us One More Beer, a rendering of the "bar of the future". I love the sci-fi elements here as well as the thoughtful design of the space and its characters. It focused more on expression than most of the other pieces.

Belgian artist Isabelle Decallonne envisions a future headed by women, though still inseparable from the male-dominated past in her large piece Past and Future. I'm not enamored of the execution (the female form looks a little awkward in her positioning, shape, and relation to the buildings below her), but I really like the concept.

Will We Let Us Raise Our Own Children? from Netherlandish artist Joris Kivits was my other favorite. In his version of the Virgin and Child motif, he replaces Mary with an android covered in a shroud, connected to large pumps and wires. She "breastfeeds" a faceless human child through a tube. It's a very blatant and slightly disturbing image, but exceptionally executed and quite memorable. Its large size definitely helps it make a lasting impact.

This really interesting event continues through August 30, so if you happen to be in the Berlin area any time before then, I highly recommend it! It was a wonderfully singular experience for me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Video Sundaes: Animated Music Videos

Hello friends, I know I've been a bit lax, but I promise I have good reasons lying around here somewhere. Many art-related ramblings and photos to post later, but for now here is a collection of music videos I dig that feature animation of some kind. (Chad VanGaalen not included, since he already got his own post.) I hope you enjoy them!

"Knowing the Things That I Know" by The Blow. Adorable. 'Nuff said.

"Flowers" by Emilie Simon. One of my all-time favorite music videos- it's a cute song with gorgeous stop-motion animation with stylization reminiscent of Tim Burton's and Tom Selleck's work.

"Schwarz zu Blau" by Peter Fox. I don't listen to his music, but I saw this video during a class presentation on contemporary German music. I don't really like the monkey thing, but I love the concept of graffiti coming to life and interacting with different drawings and such on the walls of a city.

"Year of the Dog" by The Lovely Sparrows. Again, don't listen to the music, but I dig the look of this video, with its carefully-rendered cut-paper technique. Thanks to the "Best Videos of 2008" list at the excellent Music for Kids Who Can't Read Good.

"Myriad Harbor" by The New Pornographers. They're one of my favorite bands, and they usually make pretty weird music videos. This one's got the band trapped inside of Dan Bejar's swirling, seemingly alive mane of hair. Love the use of color here, and the simple, uncluttered shapes.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Video Sundaes: Bruce Nauman

I visited the Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Basel, Switzerland recently, a small but lovely space for contemporary art. There were a few Bruce Nauman videos on display and I was reminded how much I really enjoy his performance pieces. They're very simple and personal, and often related to his body or movement in some way. Often he is having a bit of fun, just playing around with expectations of what was considered art, or discovering new ways to relate his body to a certain space.

Stomping in Studio (1968). I don't know why, but this is one of my favorite video performances. It's so simple, yet so mesmerizing to me. I think it's the repetitive sound.

Pinch Neck and Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square (1967-68)

Violin Tuned D.E.A.D. (1968)

Art Make-Up (1967)

I think next week I'll do some less kooky fare. Maybe some music videos?

Friday, June 26, 2009


I'm not really into Flickr because I find the layout confusing, but there are a few accounts I check up on now and then, when I'm feeling like some lovely photography or artworks. Peruse them if you feel so inclined!

Jaclyn. She is an art student working primarily through photography. Also she is from my town and I know her!

McNeil. Gorgeous shots of Toronto and various other subjects, from flowers to portraits to traveling. He also has an excellent movie blog The Dark of the Matinee.

Kayt Hester Lent. She is a really awesome Jersey City artist who creates portraits out of duct/masking tape. In lieu of a regular website, she posts her work as well as photos of her exhibitions here. Plus I met her once and she's really nice!

dadadreams. Fascinating collage work. Check out her Etsy Shop as well for prints and jewelry.

jhandelman. As if I needed any more reminders of how desperately I want to visit Japan.

8mobili. Great shots of street life and architecture in Stuttgart, among other things.

Any other Flickr sets I should be checking out? I am not very familiar with the site so recommendations are appreciated.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hundertwasser: The Right to Dreams

I meant to get this up weeks ago but forgot/things came up. The Städtische Galerie in Albstadt (don't think it has an English website, sorry) just held a very interesting exhibition dedicated to Austrian artist and architect Friedrich Stowasser, better known as just Hundertwasser ("hundred waters" in German). His paper works are characterized by childlike compositions and environmental themes, exploding with vibrant color and meticulous patterns. His architecture, reminiscent of Gaudi, defies straight lines for being "godless" and instead swirls and swoops around in waves and circles. I actually always pass his Wohnen unterm Regenturm in Plochingen when I take the train to Stuttgart. Most of the work at the exhibition focused on his prints, though. Let's look!

The Shadows of the Stars (1967)I was gleeful seeing his metallic paints and eye-popping colors- it kind of reminded me of Dubuffet. So fun! And I love that his prints emulate Japanese-style prints with his personal stamp and everything. Adorable.

Tears of an Artist (1974)Rain Drop Counter (1981)Girl Found in the Grass (1964)The Eyes of Machu Picchu (1966)The Endless Road to You (1967)=City Dwellers (1994)
He also designed a poster for the 1972 Olympics.

He has some wacky building designs.

Good Morning City - Bleeding Town (1970)At the end there were several models designed by school groups who had visited. It's a really cute idea, I think!

I'm really glad I went to see this exhibition, as it offered an interesting window into the life of an artist I had previously known nothing about. There was a lot of biographical and personal information, which I appreciated, as well as a video of him working at home and some of the weirdness of his life (like eating soup over his work, mixing in paprika with paint pigment bottles- yeesh). My next goal is to see more of his architecture- hopefully I will make it to Austria some time!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mixin' It Up With Some Videos

Greetings, fair readers. I have been thinking of possibly doing some sort of weekly post of videos I like- short films, performance art, music videos, movie clips, etc, probably related by theme or artist. Just something simple like the Chad VanGaalen post. I think it'd be encouraging for me to have a regular feature here since otherwise I just post sporadically. Thoughts? Please let me know!

We'll try it out today, with some Rebecca Horn performances. I've been studying her in my "German Art 1968-1990 class and I really enjoy her work. After being basically completely bedridden for a year or so, she took to creating body extensions out of soft materials like felt, as she could easily sew in bed. Her pieces from the 70's explore her relationship with her body and its relationship to its surroundings. I find it really interesting and beautifully personal. She also transforms simple and familiar objects into things uncanny in her installations and sculpture. There are some more videos and photos of her performances here.

Berlin, 1974: Segments "Touching the walls with both hands simultaneously" and "Twinkling"

A series of "Art Machines" shown in Basel in 2008. Hers is the first, but they're all very interesting.

Circle for Broken Landscape Installation
rebecca horn

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I just realized that I tantalizingly dangled the promise of photographs I took in Istanbul in front of you, only to quickly forget about it. Sorry! So now here are some pictures from that place I visited a few weeks ago. It was really quite lovely, and very different from anywhere else I've ever been. I am by no means a good photographer; this is more an attempt to give a glimpse of this beautiful, atmospheric, and incredibly colorful city to anyone who hasn't had the opportunity to visit/see some Fatih Akin movies. Enjoy!