More bread, less butter

With my head still throbbing from a bustling Friday night in Berlin, my senses are jolted awake as I hurriedly pop into the 2nd floor gallery space of Sammlung Haubrok. A man quickly greets me with an information pamphlet on the exhibit and a list of artwork, before retiring again into his office hidden away from the exhibit. I’m completely alone, surrounded by enormous white walls and high, industrial concrete ceilings – a recorded female voice, coming from somewhere, reverberates against the walls, similar to the way the energy of bass stimulates the atoms of a room.

Bodily curves, skin to touch

Upon entering the exhibit, the first thing you see are rectangular video projections on the wall. The object of the image projected at first appears to be a headless mannequin posing in cool blue and white toned garments. A series of video projections around the exhibit make it clear that the model is actually a real person’s body (that of artistic collaborator Fatuma Osman, whose voice is also playing in the background), with curves that definitely can’t be found at Berlin fashion week.

Video ProjectionFatuma Osman & Tobias Madison, 5 channel digital video projection. Courtesy of Sammlung Haubrok. Photo: Julie Anne Miranda-Brobeck

The trippy thing is that the video image is continually transposed onto another image – giving a sense of fluidity, dissolution and distortion. You see an arm within an arm, and then olive flesh fading in – a hand – and can’t help but to stay mesmerized and watch the same 15 second video looping over and over. All the while, the recording of Fatuma’s incantatory voice repeats in your head, with deeply moving lines of: “I believe we think the same things, I want to talk without talking… I want to talk without using language,” drawing you into her world. With her looping monologue, the distinction between I and You becomes blurred –you begin to believe these are your own thoughts.