Artists who migrate from one place to another.
People leave their home for various reasons; some in need for work to support themselves financially, some desperate to move because of wars or other forms of tragedies, and others longing for progress in life. People moved to places for their own dignity or their activities, and various artists from the 20th century also migrated away from their homes; from Pablo Picasso, Man Ray and Salvador Dali, to Jonas Mekas, and Nam June Paik.
Introduced here was the exhibition, Camp Berlin, based on the theme of “migration” to showcase works in a platform, which appeared to be an exchange program between Hiroshima City University and the School of Art and Design Berlin Weissensee. It was run by Hiroshima Art Project. It was interesting that most of the participating Japanese artists were based in Germany, and also, out of over 30 artists, most of them had an actual experience of the theme as they had migrated from one place to another.
Many of the works were produced based on the given theme; a work by artist duo, Empfangshalle, features a long documentary capturing the labor workers who moved to Germany; another artist, Raul Walch, took photographs of the farms in Spain where immigrants work, and also exhibited the green house and the concrete blocks, which were used in the farm. Both of them raised the question of consciousness.
To mention some additional notes on the Raul Walch work – in the farms in Walch’s photographs excessive amount of plants were cultivated to be sold solely in Germany, and the workers were not Spanish but mainly from South Africa. Such reality was captured well in this work.
The work that focused on placing the audience in a “migrating” experience was by David Polzin. He constructed a small but holy shrine of his own in the exhibition space. Audience members were required to show their ID to the artist in order to go and see the inside of the shrine. By creating a similar structure as immigration controls at the airport, the artist succeeded in guiding the audience through an experience of stepping into a fictitious territory.
Marie-Luise Birkholz‘s work adopted an aspect of transferring the audience. She installed lightings on the wall and a line of trees in front of them. This style could be seen in a typical German detached house with a front garden, which could serve as a public space as well as a private space.
The artists who interpreted the theme of the exhibition in a humorous fashion were Erik Alblas, Irene Paezug and Taro Furukata. Erik Alblas and Irene Paezug installed a wall that kept “moving” slowly throughout the show.
There was a white panel leaning on the wall. This white panel appeared to be the same material as the wall apart from the fact that it had slight black marks all around it. Taro Furukata used coal to make visible hand marks and fingerprints, which were made during the installation on the panel. By bringing out the traces of people who worked on the installation, the artists, who set up their work in the exhibition, in other words, the leading roles that migrated, became the subject for his work.
Yoshiaki Kaihatsu lived in many places all over the world on various art residency programs, and he held workshops with an audience as participants to make works with materials obtained locally.
Shiro Masuyama installed a device in a box, which had a long-period recording function. It was sent through a delivery service, and recorded the whole process of the postal delivery of the box itself until it arrived in Hamburg. The installation included the recording device itself with the edited footage projected for viewing in the exhibition.
It showed how people, who were involved in the postal delivery, tried to look at what was inside the box, and the artist himself being called by the officer at the customs and having to deal with them, which was quite thrilling to see.
Megumi Fukuda‘s work was an installation that mainly consisted of 5 video interviews. Apart from these interviews, questionnaires, objects as symbols related to flowers, and other objects that could be the replacement of the artist herself. The theme of the interview was flowers; national flowers and the memories related to those flowers.
The interesting thing was that you could really see in the interviewee’s passion whether they were talking about the memories that they had with the flowers or whether they were just explaining about the national flowers.
There was a passage, and pasted on each side of the walls were many sets of green moons and stars in frames, as well as many sets of black crosses in frames. Edin Bajric adopted his experience from his home country of Sarajevo into the context of art in a place he migrated to. This idea came from the ritual of having a religious symbol on the wall in order to mourn over war victims.
This program is planned to be shown in Hiroshima next. It would be interesting to see the result of each artist migrating to the next exhibition and what would happen next.
Date: 2nd – 10th February 2008
Place: The former centralfactory of the BVG (Berlin Transportation Company)
Address: Uferstarasse 8 – 11, 13357 Berlin Mitte
Text and photos: Yoshito Maeoka
Translation: Kyoko Tachibana