Flavia Montecchi about Neighbours, the 2011 exhibition at artMbassy, Berlin


19th – 29th November 2011
Opening Saturday 19th November 2011, 7-10 pm
The historical account of the the past happens through the theorising of events handed down from olden times to the present. To understand such events, we are used to a vertical reading of the involved events: History takes shape in front of our eyes as a pyramidal diagram of dates, with a strict cause and effect relationship.
In the works of the artists Joachim Seinfeld and Raul Gabriel – presented together inside of the spaces of artMbassy in an international scale double solo show – the reading of History happens through the superimposing of visual stratifications, able to generate a syntactic structure both mental and horizontal at the same time. As far as the series “Neighbours” is concerned, in the works of the German artist Joachim Seinfeld, the conservation of the past times can be compared to an atypical practice of the restoration, which realizes the conservation of the matter in the opposite way. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, the artist felt the need to preserve a part of the history of his city and not only of that, working on the most lived surfaces of buildings falling into decay. After preserving some parts of the removed walls, the artist applies on them rubble pictures and material of archives with the emulsion, creating two-dimensional images taking their names from the address in which the initial rip took place. A meticulous and arbitrary practice of restoration starting from a private search in order to open itself to the public sphere.
The conservation of Joachim Seinfeld opens a wide range of imagination that makes user aware of the historical and architectural memory of his city, because of a strange fusion of particulars both material and visual, contained in turn in a second image: the worked find and what it was. The artist writes: “It is therefore also a work about what we want to do with our cities, what do we want to preserve…”. Memory and current events meet themselves in an invisible frame collecting in part a present which is ruined from the events – the wall with what the artist has removed – and partly a past immortalized from someone else’s lens – the surface on which the artist works. The final image is a superimposition of suggestions recalling Berlin’s social and aesthetic liveability, embracing practices of popular art and personal archives search.
To seal the frames of this two-dimensional and dream-like trip we have the still of the video of Raul Gabriel’s “Back2Berlin”. The white shape of a bike caught on the window of an urban overground wagon appears on a close-up shot over a series of Berlin landscapes running behind during the trip of the artist to the airport. Urban noises mixed with sound fragments gradually emerging and revealing their disturbing historical root. The stratification of time and memory a horizontal reading, taking on an dream-like power tank to the use that the artist makes of the reverse. The visual levels of the video-image keep the bidimensionality of Joachim Seinfeld’s works, while the movement on which they realize themselves activates a “hypnotic flow” underlined from the leitmotiv of the background sonorities: the power of memory comes back right where the landscape seems to dart away with the journey of the train.
Raul Gabriel’s message is focused on the power suggested from the symbol “bike”. It is not the train the leitmotiv of its trip in spite of the fact that it is the real motor of the movement in the video: it is the “bycicle-formula” that “imposed on the city, clashes with its message of enviromental reconciliation and seems to invite to an ecology of the mind before any”. (Raul Gabriel).
Both works, on show together inside of the spaces of artMbassy, use the narrative power of the still image multiplied with many layers of visual stimulation which causes a “mental movement” moving towards a memory that turns from individual to general. A different key to an understanding of the everyday life of a city in endless movement, searching its past and its surroundings, to cross it later in a present which is visionary but faithful to the vital soul beating inside of it.
Flavia Montecchi

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