The current exhibition “Art and Press” at the Martin-Gropius-Bau needs little introduction or evaluation! In bringing together some of the most influential artists of contemporary times, the exhibition has created an extremely varied point of view on the press! I was blown over by all the experimental, stimulating and thought-provoking artworks.
Truth and Lies
One of the main things this exhibition pointed out was the necessity to question everything. The slogan “where art transforms lies into truth” above the door into one of the rooms was very appropriate. We take what we read and see in the papers as evidence. This is because we are used to a free press. But there’s always that nagging questions of how free is our press? What happens that we don’t see? Censorship in China has to be one of the most famously high levels in the world. Ai Wei Wei deals with this issue in his structural iron poles, representing the unsafe school buildings that collapsed on about 1000 children, and commenting on the role of the press in the censorship of the scandal.
Censorship is all about mind control. It withholds information, keep people in the dark and un-opinionated. Propaganda is the other extreme of mind control, creating and planting or twisting material to create opinions. Jonathan Meese deals with propaganda in his works and it was good to see in his works that the manipulation of words and images was not just noted in history but also in our times. The Bild’s recent slogan „Dir deiner Meinung” (Your opinion for you) had annoyed me before, who wants someone telling them what they think – not the best advertising pitch! I was glad to see Messe had included it in the context of dictatorship!
Today’s news is gone tomorrow. The press is ephemeral and short lived. This was brought home to me at this exhibition particularly in Annette Messager’s “Dancing Newspaper”. Crumpled, forgotten, flimsy, the newspaper page is blowing about. How many times have you seen this scene outside and treated it as rubbish blowing around in the wind. Olaf Metzel’s piece also reminded me of newspapers which become rubbish. The long poles on which the huge metal pages are impaled look like litter-picking sticks!
Oh deer! Photo: Courtesy of the Martin-Gropius-Bau
A reindeer on top of a pile of newspapers, a huge display of rugs with magazine covers printed on them and displayed as you would see them in a kiosk and a room full of synchronised microfilm readers. It’s these kinds of works which make the exhibition simply great fun. Yes there was a serious background to it but you have to enjoy the oddity and unexpectedness of it as well, even if you can’t quite grasp the meaning!
Such a vast exhibition filled my head with overflowing opinions and images. I could happily spend hours in there being blown over by all the influential artists but I had to stop and give my brain a rest – Potsdamer Platz for an ice-cream at Caffè e Gelato to cool my excitement I think!
- Martin-Gropius-Bau “Art and Press” March 23rd – June 24th 2012, Wed – Mon: 10am – 7pm