“Best advice you ever got?” “No pain, no gain.”
We pass by the “Alte Postfuhramt” and approach the side entrance to the “Rodeo Club”. We’re 3 hours early for the inauguration but the place is already open to the public and so we enter, climb up some stairs and pass a long corridor that’s lit by a dim red light. The rooms around the dome-hall by the main installation are wall papered with posters, reminiscent of last year’s exhibition that took place at Shanghai and thus was called “What makes Berlin addictive?“.
Torn and partly stripped off, these posters look as if they have remained here for at least a year. The whole place offers a very nostalgic scene, like an old, run-down theatre where an avant-garde play is taking place. The dome-hall is especially impressive, with its crude scaffold-construction designed by exhibition-architect Tilman Thuermer. Wooden pallets, illuminated from below, carry huge piles of posters that you can take away. On one wall questionnaires are pinned on wooden pallets. The artists have given statements to issues like “Shanghai First thing the city lacks” (“Starry nights”), “Favorite prejudice against visual designers” (“They dig themselves.”) or “Best advice you ever got?” Many answers here say: “No pain, no gain.”
For the moment we’re the only ones getting posters but later that night crowds are climbing over the pallets and piles, discovering their favorite poster and waiting impatiently before it’s finally their turn to roll it up.
We get some drinks at the bar and sit down on one of the sofas, the best place on site. From here you can watch the staff finishing the last preparations (e.g. tying piggybanks to the pallets, so you can donate money) and you’ve also got a good view on the film that is projected on the two large Chinese letters (saying “Shanghai”) on top of the scaffold. Since it’s both relaxed and inspiring, we decide to stay and start calling some friends: “Hey, come over after work, it’s cool here and there are posters for free!”
I start talking to Jacques Magiera, one of the curators of the exhibition. He tells me a bit about the idea behind the exhibition.
It is supported by the Berlin China Cultural Bridges e.V. and wants to encourage creative exchange between the two megacities. Workshops with Chinese and German artists accompany the exhibition, to extend the 2-dimensional poster-artwork into 3D. There are already some sculptures made from Chinese everyday-objects and also a congenial group of doodles on plastic sheet. After the exhibition has stopped, the website will continue to offer a platform where you can submit your own work.
So hours pass by, it’s getting dark outside, the place fills up and the music changes unnoticeably from sugar-sweet Chinese ballads into cool electronica.
Jacques finds me a chinese girl that answers my last question this evening: “Where in the surroundings can you find authentic Chinese food?” She recites so fast, I can only write down half of her tips, but the “5 flavor” at Torstrasse 125 where we finally wind up offers the most peculiar yet delicious Chinese food i’ve ever eaten in Germany.
Artists: Perk Jin Ningning and Si Wei, More Jiang Zhenhua, WZL Wang Yuwei, Jellymon Lin Lin and Sam Jacobs, Coca Dai Jian Yong, Ideaprisoner Bei Bang, I love left Liu Qing, Zhang Da, Ma Liang, Huang Yonggang, Jiang Jian, Lui Fei, Xu Yi Bing, Qian Qian
What makes Shanghai addictive?
Date: 11th – 14th September 2007
Place: Kuppelsaal des Rodeo-Club im ehemaligen Postfuhramt
Address: Oranienburgerstrasse 35-36, 10115 Berlin
Opening Hours:daily from 10 a.m. until late
Text and photos: Gudrun Rau