I had been informed of the privilege, commanded to savour every second and warned that I may never be so lucky again; the allure of Business Class was obvious, although not entirely understood. Due to the practicalities of my injury a Business Class seat was required for me to have permission to fly (potentially the single perk of breaking my toe).
I have to say the entire experience was somewhat surreal. Coming from an all Economy past, the disparities between Business and Economy are enormous. With an 85 minute delay I was not simply left waiting in uncomfortable steel chairs, staring out a window at six planes wondering why mine wasn’t ready, with the only sustenance offered being vending machine food and listening to screaming babies and complaining children. Instead I was wheeled into the Business Class lounge, offered an array of options to satisfy any craving, given icy cold water without saying a word and continually asked if I needed anything.
The flight from Berlin to Abu Dhabi was unlike anything I imagined. With more space than you ‘could poke a stick at’ I boarded the plane, had hardly seated myself and was offered champagne or orange juice. I was then presented with a menu of gourmet options and told if there was anything i needed not to hesitate to ask. Food and beverages were offered every 20 minutes, and extra blankets and pillows were handed out without hesitation. The flight, approximately seven hours in length, felt like it went for two, max.
The Etihad Business Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi exceeded my expectations (again). It oozed expensive – equipped with a massive buffet, a dozen Apple Macs free for use, a child’s play centre and a SPA. Again I was seated and attended to without uttering any requests. The Abu Dhabi to Sydney leg of the flight was the longer trip (approximately 14 hours) but hardly seemed it. I was seated i my fully-reclining massage chair and given a menu (again gourmet meals) and was in awe of how much space i felt i had. Business Class is so far removed from the claustrophobic conditions of Economy – trying to share arm rests, hardly being able to stretch, the awkward angle of the seating and attempting to sleep in a packed 747 that squeezes eight people in across a row in Economy, as opposed to four in each row across Business Class. After the meal, the lights dimmed and I was presented with a scattering of small white led lights in the roof of the cabin (simulating the nights sky) I reclined my chair, tucked in and slept soundly until an hour before landing.
Going back to Economy will be difficult.
After significant consideration, I made the decision to return to the comfort of my own home. With the physical limitations of the crutches and my inability to keep up with the pace of the group I felt it would be beneficial to not only my state of mind but more so my roomies’ ability to explore Berlin in all its glory, without worrying about the cripple they left behind…
From taxi rides and the train Berlin had already enticed me. I will return to this buzzing city and explore its cafes, flea markets, galleries and museums properly, and with the full use of both my feet.
Until next time…
FRIEDRICHSPLATZ – GROUND FLOOR
78 Tamara Henderson “Sloshed Ballot & Anonymous Loan”
Spatial perspicuity involves a complex correlation between composer, medium and responder. That a single space or object has a plethora of potential interpretations or methods for deconstruction, grounded by a multi-layered set of preconceptions, predilections and presumptions that operate to frame the reading of the object or image. It is this individually constructed frame (whether conscious or otherwise) that incites the responder’s interest and causes them to read, reflect, pull apart and reconstruct a personalised compilation of the form.
In the rotunda space in the rear of the Friedrichsplatz there is a compilation of a number of works that operate to “condense and centre the thought lines” of the dOCUMENTA. The space incorporates a variety of works in various mediums at a range of scales collectively exploring the primary concerns of dOCUMENTA13. The space operates on controlled entry (50 people as max. capacity) and when entering the viewer is overcome with a multitude of places in which one can begin. A small video was projected onto the white wall at the entry on the right hand side. It was no more than postcard size and resided no higher than my knee. The video appeared to be an amateur documentation of an interior space and its objects, panning unevenly, at various paces and traversing in and out of focus. The elements contained within the frame are not always recognisable and lighting functions as a mechanism to obscure or illuminate. The viewer is then compelled to watch and re-watch in an attempt to first comprehend what is happening, and then further begin to understand the artist’s intent. This obstruction – fabricated through the manipulation of recording – functions to skew the individual’s perception of the content within the frame and generates an impediment, hindering the development of a clear understanding of the subject matter and its intended objective.
Henderson’s installation was the only filmic piece within the ‘brain’ and was void of any specific social or political overtone. I think this was intended to indicate the variety of films in the video section of the dOCUMENTA along with the vastness of different readings or interpretations that are possible. It may also operate to generate the behaviours required/desired when interacting with installations throughout the dOCUMENTA – that is that the responder is encourage to observe, consider, re-observe and continually interrogate or question in order to understand. The notion that the projector acts as an object that plays a part in the actual artwork and contributes to the reading and understanding of the work as a whole is an interesting notion to consider when viewing Henderson’s piece. The decision to display/ expose the mechanical elements that function to generate the piece resonates with the seemingly choreographed movements within the film, alluding to the notion that there is a presence of technical factors operating external to the frame that aid in the composition of the film.
The scale of the piece is important to consider when attempting to understand the installation in it’s context. The author notes the application of 16mm film when recording the piece (I was informed this was a reference to late 50’s and 60’s architecture) a gauge often used in motion picture and industrial or educational filming, that was know as an ‘inexpensive amateur alternative’ to 35mm. The installation at post card size remains relatively inconspicuous and subtle within the room referred to as the ‘brain’, the sense of chaos is mediated by this very considered size, to prevent the work from imposing or overwhelming the other pieces in the room that are foundational in dOCUMENTA 13. It is also important to consider that the size of the frame aids in the confusion of the perspective and the notion of unattainable/elusive sense of realising and knowing. The height of both the projector and the projected image resonates with the height at which the film appears to have been composed (with few deviations). This immediately implores the responder to crouch to position the projected film at eye level in an attempt to further understand, making this installation one that demands an active audience and active inquiry.
A musical piece does play on a loop with the film, it is almost inaudible and echoes the disjointness of the film piece. It features what sounds to be a string instrument over-layed with sporadic piano keys and what appears to be pre recorded sounds that would be audible on a busy street, adding to this is the continual hum of the projector, casting the recording onto the wall of the rotunda.
The notion of dOCUMENTA at a distance was not a concept I had considered being plausible or effective in augmenting my understanding or experience of the installations. However, it is important to note the way in which the collected experiences of my peers (through conversation, video and image) and the statements outlined in the dOCUMENTA 13 book – ‘The Guidebook’, were compared and contrasted in regards to intent and reading.
I often opted to read the historical paragraphs as opposed to trying to expose myself to works through a two dimensional medium. It was really interesting to uncover the motivation behind the dOCUMENTA along with the spatial considerations made in regards to layout and the designing of the way in which the individual may operate or manoeuvre within the space. It was also nice to be able to comprehend the distribution of work and the emphasis/importance of the Rotunda in the Friedrichplatz and it’s function as the ‘Brain’ – a concept not elucidated in any other mode than in the pages of the Guidebook
After a unbelievably short stay in Frankfurt we departed for dOCUMENTA(13) in Kassel. Our first day was spent primarily in the main buildings housing the dOCUMENTA installations, with the Friedrichplatz featuring what was known as the ‘Brain’ of the program that ‘condensed and centred the lines of thought’ for the installations included in the 2012 dOCUMENTA. As well as the Freidrichplatz we also ventured into the Ottoneum and documenta-Halle, two of the larger venues for the display of works within the dOCUMENTA.
The following encounters with the dOCUMENTA works were somewhat unplanned or incidental. The experiences of works were more discoveries, with some of the exhibitions included within the basements or in the roofs of large shopping centres, within buildings previously housing cafes or in currently utilised hotels. The inclusion of these alternate modes for the revelation of dOCUMENTA installations is a curious act on behalf of Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and may suggest a desire for individual inquiry into the dOCUMENTA; it’s contents, artists intent and the personalised reading/experience of the works.
The Portikus is an expansive art space housing the exhibition “Portikus Print Plant & Portikus Sounds”, an installation that operated across both the lower and temporary upper floors and utilised a variety of media. The manipulation of scale and verticality within the structure was crucial to the communication of the theme. The expanse of the ‘gallery’ space facilitated a desire to reside within despite a collective chaos (in both layout/curation and sound manipulation). The secondary space operated in opposition, featuring low ceilings and a sense of tidiness/order. The lack of concealment or aesthetic presentation also communicates an ‘honesty’ that is grounded to that specific site.
Nora Schultz explores the notion of traces and the physical remnants left behind that elude to the previous inhabitation of the space. She incorporates dual sounds (layers of both field recordings and live recording) to be played during the exhibition of seemingly primitive print production technology that resonates with the initial stages of the thought process as they are generated and hastily noted down. This notion of action/performance resonates with the Schultz’s practice to develop the exhibition in that she was aided by her artists assistants (she described, they imprinted) to develop a realisation of a space (the exterior) in a interior concentrated form (documentation).
FRANKFURT WAR GRAVES
The War Graves in Frankfurt were an entirely different space to the Portikus, both structurally, visually and in regards to their function/intent. The Memorial dedicated to the fallen soldiers of both World Wars was situated to the back of the cemetery, surrounded by lush green foliage and growth. There was an abundance of natural light that permeated the canopy and illuminated various areas along the path (almost a procession) to the memorial building. The atmosphere within the site is solemn but not macabre or depressing; the space as a whole encapsulates notions of contentment and regrowth. It also provides a resting place that is so far removed from the conditions of war – dry/barren land, decay and debris, heat and dirt – and fabricates a kind of Utopia. That the Memorial is a generative, living organ the functions to console that families of the fallen.
The structure itself has an echo that suggests the sounds of battle (the march or sounds of warfare) it is very minimal in the interior, drawing focus on the circular aperture removed from the roof; a notion that is symbolic of the religious connotations of Heaven residing above. It is also interesting to note the silence that fell on the group when entering the structure; this was a place with understood symbolism and a sense of accepted/suitable behavioural practices.
Frankfurt operates as the business hub in Germany, housing all the major banks and economic centres. It’s cityscape is the most diverse out of the three locations, ranging from skyscrapers, to cafes below multi level apartments and expansive shopping complexes. The variety of buildings was surprising, with everything from completely glass complexes, 60’s/70’s inspired squared forms and reconstructed (almost heritage/period looking) buildings.
I was surprised to see such an empty city (apparently not uncommon on a Sunday) and also found the lack of people around the primary shopping areas quite disorienting, vastly different from sydney. Food was in order and we headed out to find our 3pm meeting location and our first German lunch, operating the tram system was interesting but we eventually found Moloko and had the WORLD’S GREATEST PANINIS ! We continued to wander the pseudo-ghost city until meeting time at 3, so back to Moloko for some mint & pepper tea.
With jet lag setting in, we set off over the river to The Wagner, for traditional German fare, by midnight we were walked out and completely stuffed. It was back to 5 Elements for a sleep, with the sounds of the red light district bidding us goodnight.