During check-out, I inquired as to how many people were registered in the dooms the previous night. 6-7 was the answer. I told the woman there had been 9 people sleeping there, to which she looked disturbed and thanked me for letting her know. I don´t have a problem with people finding a warm place to sleep for the night, but when they clearly have no respect for the others and the space they are sharing, I draw the line!
Since Mondays are free at the Guggenheim, I met up with K and we saw the Wanngechi Mutu exhibit, My Dirty Little Heaven. Her work was up recently at the VAG, and I was quite taken with seeing it in person and was looking forward to a whole exhibit of her ouvre. She works on paper, creating collages of magazine cut outs and her own potent watercolours. Materials such as glitter pile on the surfaces.
To simplify her practice (it´s hard to sum up an intuitive creator when you are one yourself, words just don´t work..), we´ll say that Mutu creates her own visual language which reassigns the media´s definitions of women, sexuality, and race. Her palette is vibrant and natural, and the pictures are alluring and dark.
Unfortunately I wasn´t too pleased with the exhibition, which was a bit too full on for my taste. WM transformed the entire room into a gritty installation of art.. the walls holding her framed pictures were either coated in felt or painted a light earth tone with a dripping edge at the bottom. A video project was projected on a tall pillar, showing a nude woman standing, then crouching in a space that looked like a well, with a liquid pouring onto her. The centre of the gallery held a sparce wooden table covered in plates, which were dripped upon by fluid filled bottles suspended by ropes from the ceiling. The liquid was indecipherable, looking like a fat mixture in some and blood in others – there was definitely a relation to the body – and some of the bloodlike substance was splattered and pooled in an old stain on the floor. This part smelled extremely foul. (Skip ahead in the video and it shows the exhibition)
I would have preferred if she´d simplified, and I understand the space was probably a strong limitation… but put the video in one room, the table with the bottles in another, and the pictures elsewhere, and it would have made a nice journey where each piece could be appreciated separately. Either that, or destroy the presence of the gallery to a greater degree because the cube was still reading strong.
Anyway, despite my concerns, she is still brilliant, and I look forward to what else she may do in the future.
So from there K and I parted ways and I returned to the hostel to pick up my pack. The woman there told me she found out the past two nights there had been 2 fellows squatting at the hostel dorm. They were gone by the time she got there, but she was going to stake it out the next night and call the cops if they returned. She apologized for the problems and said nothing like that had happened in the past 5 years.
I connected with M and went over to her apartment as she said I could spend the remainder of my stay there. 2 nights in a real bed! She lives with Koff and Mn, and their apartment is quirky and charming. It features such happenstances as a spare bed by a big window (looking into the courtyard) and a basil plant in a nook of the kitchen, a window inside the bathroom overlooking this nook and part of the kitchen, ceramic wood furnaces in all the bedrooms, and wooden planking leading out the window of the hall staircase for cats to climb out the building to some unknown destination…
This is the old Berliner apartment where G and K roomed in last summer while Koff was away.
Upon arriving, M settled me in with coffee and we got to work beside each other in her bedroom office. She is editting the video for a lethargic dance performance and it´s taking longer than expected; she was happy to have some company to help her focus, while I updated my blog. Later we went for groceries, and when we came back, Mn and Koff were home. Koff has an apartment upstairs, so Mn said she´d stay there and offered up her room to me for the next two nights. It´s a beautiful space..
M made supper and coached me on making a cake – she´s worked in restaurants for years and has some amazing knowledge! Koff was sharpening blades with a new whetstone and gave mine a tweak. He had cut his finger sharpening Mn´s and the blood mixed into the stone, it was a bit grim, but we were laughing that it was some ritual magic. Then we feasted. By then it was quite late, so we had some tea and drifted to our own clocks.