And presto! There it was…

The small Pavilion space is so packed on this opening evening that actress Katharina Schrade can barely make her way through it. Berlin’s art scene swarms around eight ceramic vases on octagonal pedestals, whose shape and color scheme mirror essential features of Schinkel’s architecture. Miniature porcelain female figurines in blue stockings and white robes adorn the top of the monochromatic vases, printed in the blue-white colors of the contractor – the Nymphenburg Porcelain Factory.

Katharina Schrade is one part of the art installation

Dressed in the same clothing as the porcelain figurine, she has come to do a performance between the vases. Standing on a platform, she calls out the name of one of the miniatures, assumes its pose and intones a sprechgesang. As she moves toward the corresponding figure, an assistant raises the lid of the vase. She then bends over it and speaks into it. Presto! The lid is closed, and Katharina Schrade returns to her platform to assume the pose of the next miniature.

The essence of an artwork in a vase

Interdisciplinary interpretation and adaptation are typical for the work of French artist Saâdane Afif. Under his direction, writers and artists have composed song lyrics based on some of his earlier works, in order to grasp their essence. These lyrics are now recited by Schrade and retained symbolically in the vases for posterity. The staging becomes a living demonstration of the process of making of a work. While the exhibit is definitely broadly conceived and intriguing, one wonders if its meaning would reveal itself even without the performance element.