Monday, May 16, 2011

Keeping it real

There's an old saying “art follows reality TV” and it certainly rings true here in Berlin. Many exhibitions seem specifically designed to impress the hell out of us by scale, danger quotient or hours racked up in assembly time. Turkish artist Cyprien Gaillard’s The recovery of discovery cunningly combined all three and played to a popular past time that we share with the Germans, drinking. 

It was a huge pyramid of 6,000 beer cartons containing between them 72,000 full bottles of Turkish beer. No cheating polystyrene core here it was beer cartons all the way down. The job for the audience was to climb the stack and grab a beer. By the time we got there the place was a tip of broken glass, crushed cartons and spilt beer. Still, a beer is a beer, so on your behalf we climbed to the top (minor cuts and bruises), grabbed a bottle and crawled back down again (harder than it looked going up).

The staff of the art museum KW knew this was all high risk and made us sign a release form absolving them from any responsibility for accidents. For all the talk about art being a high risk enterprise this is only the second time we have ever been asked to do this (the first time was to enter a Gregor Schneider installation at LACMA).

Gaillard’s beer mountain was presented as an investigation into how 'preserving a monument goes hand in hand with destroying it' but, given the climbing, drinking and danger that ensued, we’re figuring the subtext had to be Jackass.
Images: Top left, before and right, after. Bottom left, we knock the bugger off and right, view from the top