Off the Rack

On the first floor of the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein is a small, unassuming storeroom, a bit dark and at first glance barely distinguishable from the rest of the exhibition space in the Artothek.  But a label to the right of the entrance reveals that Manfred Pernice’s “von der stange” is on display here. The space is filled with a conglomeration of objects made of cardboard, particle board and similar materials that form a three-dimensional space within the space. Some are colored and covered with product tags, architectural plans, newspaper clippings, book covers and framed photos. Some are reminiscent of seating, others of architectural models – both interior and exterior spaces, as it were. The word “SALE” is written in white letters on a red triangle. Another promotional item bears the label “40%.” 

An art collection in a summer clearance sale?

The artist has deposited a white wooden cabinet and two lamps in the entrance area amidst the abovementioned illusionistic structure. On the cabinet lies a barely legible fax from Pernice to the n.b.k. “I have lowered the price of a few pieces to make it possible even (?) for those with thinner ‘wallets’ to acquire (?) a work.”

Pernice’s game operates on so many different levels that it makes your head spin. It’s both fascinating and perplexing how real and fictitious elements merge in this game. He not only disrupts spatial relationships but calls traditional categorization into question. How do we define an exhibition space nowadays? What exactly does the term “sculpture” encompass? And should art be sold in a summer clearance sale?

A symbol of insufficiency 

The ephemeral and virtually unusable objects in this space could be a symbol of insufficiency in our society, of long obsolete systems of classification. The power of difference, which stands out from the crowd, lies in individuality.

Manfred Pernice is setting a good example here. Although on the surface he always seems to be using the same materials and form in creating his objects, ultimately they are one-of-a-kind pieces.

So maybe it’s not an off-the-rack summer clearance sale?

On view until October 28, 2011