Who Is Who & What Is What?

We all know galleries are not the only places artists show their work: public spaces, bars, warehouses, houses, cafes are all fair game—but now even your local fruit and veggie shop is also into the mix! At Obst & Gemüse, nestled in the heart of Neukölln's bar district on Weserstrasse, you might not be able to find a healthy fruit fix to make up for last nights bar-hopping, but look a little further and your new friendly neighborhood grocers at number 56 will provide you with some interesting visual nourishment instead.

In what is planned to be a monthly exhibition series in the newly fitted-out space, O&G (as is it is more cozily known) recently held an opening event and vernissage featuring the works of French street artist—and founding member of the Terror Club art collective—Justin Person. Who is Who? is Person's first solo show in Berlin and it is a selection of limited edition screen prints plus original one-off hand-painted acrylics. 

Uncovering The Whos & The Whats

Person's black and white pieces seem to almost blend into to the predominantly minimalistic and monochromatic space of O&G. With a strong design aesthetic, the works appear both comical and simple. Yet with the thematic of this exhibition, deeper themes questioning ideas of identity and role-playing in society become the holding point for what could otherwise simply be a nice graphic installation.


That's co-manager of O&G Georgie Kloss. But who is that in the window? Photo: Chris Phillips

Faceless figures with famous bodies, such as Popeye or Felix the Cat, are portrayed stripped from their strongest attributes, deeming these figures as shapes and nothing more—becoming much more subtle, less heroic and less interesting even. Without their public front, or their 'mask,' who are they or who do they become? Yet it is Person's anonymous figures that are the strongest works questioning these social concepts. His diptychs depict simplistic figures to be read simultaneously: a faceless man is juxtaposed alongside a man (we suppose it is the same individual) with a monkey's mask, a dog's mask etc.

It's artist Justin Person with one of his works! Photo: Chris Phillips

Predominantly a street artist, Justin also has a very strong design style that combines playfulness with sensitivity, making it interesting to see his work transplanted in these walls—off the street—in a completely different space for contemplation. The exhibition works fantastically with the visuals of the space and, although this is not the main goal of an exhibition for more gallery spaces, for O&G this makes a lot of sense, bringing aesthetic unity to the whole space. As a hybrid of exhibitions, co-working, music, fashion design studio and outlet, Rob Dietsche (one of the owners) more appropriately describes it as a space which he and co-manager Georgie Kloss aspire to be, "An open and creative space for people and cultural exchange."

Co-owner Rob Dietsche and co-manager Georgie Kloss basking in the sun outside O&G. Photo: C. Phillips

In actuality, Obst & Gemüse has been in existence since 2010, but it has taken on a bit of a revamp since Spring this year with this opening event featuring Justin's work. There are four creatives who are currently running and working in the space. Instead of selling apples and bananas, they exhibit and sell their own handcrafted clothing designs produced on site (labels Kloss and Eugen) and hold Vinyl nights on Wednesday (with a house slant), while exhibitions are held once a month. The space as a whole is still evolving and there are some grand plans in the mix, but for now you can count on always getting a dose of the good stuff to fill your eyes and ears. Next up is Justin's finissage on the 13th, where you'll be able to catch the artist in person—but please, BYOA (bring your own apples). 

Article by Lara Merrington