It’s almost a ritual—taking the long walk up an unknown staircase, pausing at each landing to check the name on the door, finally reaching the third floor where the cool kids spill out into the hallway drinking out of plastic cups and sneaking a cigarette. Peaking inside, you see if you know anyone who can wave and beckon you into the spare, white hallway lined on either side by slouchy 20-somethings with fabulous hair and baggy coats. Taking the plunge and making your way into the corridor lined with flat-screens with headphones dangling like earbuds from an oversized iPhone, dodging cliquey clumps of carousers like a game of hipster frogger, pausing to watch as images appear, mutate, and disappear on the intermittent screens. No, this is not your average Berlin house party, this is the grand re-opening of Eigen + Art’s Lab, where cartoons are more than just cool again.
What’s up Doc?
Perhaps nervous to wade further into the sea of sexy strangers, perhaps overheated in my faux-fur coat, or curious how giant black headphones would work with my floppy felt hat (impossible to remove due to the fact that the hat was covering for what really should have been a shower), I paused first at Jake Fried’s hand-drawn animation in the style of Keith Haring. Lines and planes appear, conjuring up a room, an ancient palace or a cave of wonders, and soon a face, a deity or a statue, appears mutating and then disappearing like a tribute to hieroglyphs and mythology itself. The work is compelling—a bite-sized piece of philosophical spirituality. I’m reminded of high-school, and my first copy of “The Bhagavad Gita.”
Further down the hall I am mesmerized by Celia Rowlson-Hall’s “The Audition,” which is both disturbingly self-explanatory and deliciously entertaining. A lithe, shockingly pretty young woman stands in a white room with a black chair holding a binder and nods to an unknown entity off-camera. She begins to dance and then appears shocked and angry. Continuing to follow off-screen cues, she starts to cry, cut her hair, juggle, do backbends, and finally fall to all-fours gagging herself in an apparent attempt to vomit.
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