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It's 10 years since the Berlin Wall fell, marking the end of one era and the start of another for a newly united Germany. Artists, ever a part of any city's landscape have been present to both its document change and create changes of their own.
"The Children of Berlin" at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, 22-25 Jackson Heights presents the changing face of a united Berlin through the work of new artists, both those born to Berlin as well as those who came to the city as outsiders.
With cultural change as an organizing principle, the artwork in "Berlin" can not be said to neatly and cleanly belong to any one movement, classification, style or subtext. This leaves one with a curious mixture of sensations, chief among them: dizziness and satiety.
My vision clouded by "Berlin's" richly variegated landscape, it was difficult to arrive at top selections. Difficult but never impossible. Christoph Schlingensief's film, "Sinking Germany" is the second part of a three-part series. Shot in black and white with subtitles that function as sinister nonsequitirs, "Sinking" strongly and effectively evokes the surrealist silliness of the Dadaists (particularly the opus, "Un Chien Andalou," the 1927 film by Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel.)
Likewise, make time for the understated beauty of work of Thomas Demand's photography ("Office" and "Hedge"). Also worth viewing are two video installations: Johannes Kahrs' "Audience Depression" and "Parallax" by Heike Baranowsky, a hypnotically beautiful, self-perputating slide projection of the same stretch of forest. In a category all its own is Roland Brus' "Sheltered II." Essentially a donation of select personal items by denizens of a prison, "Sheltered II" is a collective empty statement on a life lived behind bars. Never maudlin, never pleading -on the contrary, resolutely apolitical - "Sheltered II" represents its own separate and haunting time continuum.
Also at P.S. 1, is the refreshing exhibit "0-9," a look at the artwork of area children.
"We hope this is just the beginning of this exhibit," said Caroline Christov Bakargiev who curated the exhibit with fellow staffer, Bill Beirne, P.S. 1 curator of education.
"Basically, it is just a fun way to do a show of young artists, and we think, a great way to start the millennium," Bakargiev added.
To create"0-9," artwork was solicited from the general community, from the children of museum staffers as well as the children of various artists.
There was no criteria for inclusion, an aesthetic standard not in any way being a focus of the exhibit. No artists were rejected. The work is shown on a rotating bi-weekly basis, and most importantly, it is hung at waist level so the artists' contemporaries can see it.
"Museums have many audiences. An ongoing problem is that the very young are often not considered part of cultural discourse and yet their contribution is crucial," Bakargiev continued with a laugh, "I think adults should bend down a little bit every once in a while."
"Children of Berlin" and "0-9" are on view at P.S. 1 through Jan. 2. For more information, call the museum at 784-2084.
©1999 Community Newspaper Group
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