A few days ago, if you were to ask me about what I thought of artists making work about their childhood I’d have rolled my eyes and told you it’s been done to death. So when I read the press release for Martin Honert’s exhibition at Hamburger Bahnhof entitled “Kinderkreuzzug” (literally “Children’s Crusade”), you can imagine my hesitation. I was expecting a story of personal strife: portraits of an artist secluded from a world that didn’t understand him due to his eccentricity. Or worse: a heartbreaking tale of a lonely boy growing up in an environment of conformists and bigots. I had heard the story too many times before, and felt that another rehash of this cliché would leave a bitter taste in my mouth. After viewing the exhibition, however, Honert reminded me that the child inside each of us is an artists at heart, so I must admit that my assumptions couldn’t have been more wrong.
After getting my ticket and checking my jacket, I was confronted by a series of warnings that the artworks shown were extremely fragile and not to be touched. Although this is a common courtesy expected of museum visitors, I found it odd that the curators sought to emphasize this commonplace regulation. I proceeded to walk down the ramp to the main basilica of the museum where I was immediately greeted by a large, artificial table covered in a waxen cloth and a small child sitting behind it with a cold stare.
Pull up a seat: a portrait of the artist as a young man – literally. Photo: Chris Phillips
I was transfixed by this uncanny image that was so delicately manipulated yet purposefully rendered cartoonish. The table was larger than average, yet not big enough to be monumental. Likewise, the small adolescent child had the proportions of a four-year-old but was the size of a teenager. The sculpture’s glossy surface gave me the impression that if I breathed on it, it would break into a million pieces. The curator’s vehement caution suddenly made sense.
| Continued on Page 2|