The K-W Institute for Contemporary Art received their first visitors to the current show, Welcome to the Jungle, during Berlin Art Week. A lucky few were able to catch the show before the official opening, during which even the generous space of the K-W seemed to be diminished by the crowds of eager visitors. There is not much of the natural jungle here, in fact, the only plant-life you will find are a naïve painting, cardboard replicas of palm trees – courtesy of Marianne Vlaschits’ Malibu Moonrise – and several innocuous looking houseplants. The first installation is quite a confrontation with Malibu: hot tubs and actors, lounging casually in the dim space. Staring too long is uncomfortable, taking a photograph, almost impossible, but the spirit is humorous and the display is as effective as these contemporary displays can be.
Moving on to the secondary space, the slightly seedy aesthetic and deceptively intimate atmosphere gives way to the huge, main space. K-W’s ability to manipulate this area speaks of hard work and, of course, a generous budget. Compared to my previous visit to their Ryan Trecartin exhibition, Site Visit, earlier in the year, this room was almost unrecognisable. It was only by logical consideration of the building that I was finally convinced that, despite the changes, it was the same space. Undoubtedly the main attraction, it is full of projections, suspended images and an imposing fountain, which slowly fills with sand. The scale of the place intimidates even with the two gigantic projections of The Park by Ulu Braun and, the aforementioned, Sandfountain by Klaus Weber. Braun’s films are, quite frankly, hypnotic, entirely mad and revelatory of what this show is really about – the urban jungle. As one part of the co-ordinated series of four exhibitions, STADT/BILD (Image of a City), this exhibition extends upon what the others also consider, the city as a massive, living and breathing organism. K-W’s position in this series is the most intriguing, a chaotic and dangerous counterpoint to the perceived organisation of our urban lives. Indeed the show itself becomes labyrinthine when moving up the stairs to the second half, which is a set of rooms mostly occupied by various projections and films, all of a similar dark and humorous variety. The impact here is not the same, it requires much more quiet enjoyment – if you can find the space and time to do it – and leads to an almost anti-climactic, sudden end to an enjoyably confusing and complex show.
It is certainly a jungle, akin to the one Guns N’ Roses imagined in the shows namesake. Aesthetically alone it is worth a visit, just to see how much can be done in a space with heavy design and a strong institution – If you got the money, honey – backing you. The show is not as messy and chaotic as its theme and though in places it seems like it is almost too perfectly displayed, the content more than makes up for it.
Welcome to the Jungle runs until the 15th of November 2015 and is part of STADT/BILD (Image of a City) which is a coordinated series of exhibitions across Berlin. The other three venues and exhibitions are; Brandlhuber + Hertweck, Mayfried – The Dialogic City: Berlin wird Berlin, Berlinische Galerie, Xenopolis, Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle and Fluids. A Happening by Allan Kaprow, 1967/2015, Nationalgalerie Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
Amy E. Brown
Amy. E. Brown (Aberdeen, 1986) is a painter, curator and writer. She attained a BA (Hons) in Painting from Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen in 2010 and an MA with Distinction in Curating the Contemporary from the London Metropolitan University and Whitechapel Gallery in 2015. During her graduate placement as exhibitions intern at the Whitechapel Gallery, London she contributed to projects including; Lynette Yiadom-Boake: Natures, Natural and Unnatural, A Utopian Stage: Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of Arts and Emily Jacir’s Europa. She is co-founder of curatorial collective amaCollective. Recent projects include; Falling Fictions, meCollectors Room, Berlin, the line that (…), Five Years, London, shapes and things, Fill the Gap, London, dontdrinkthemilk#1, TripSpace, London and A Sense of Things, Zabludowicz Collection, London.
Feature Image: Malibu Moonrise (2015), Marianne Vlaschits