Friday, March 19, 2010



I just came across one of my favorite bands of the (g)olden days. A bunch of high school friends of mine formed a band called "Élan Timide" that all the teenagers in our small town adored. It turns out they were quite ahead of their time - I still love that shit. Élan Timide that's Peter Rings (vocals), Dr. med. dent. Johannes Albert (guitar), Dr. phil. Johannes Schülein (organ) and Matthias Kalmbach (drums). The piece I bring forward to you is called "Improvisationsstück". Enjoy...

10 improvisationsstück.mp3

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ewa Kniaziak - Let's Give Up On The Idea Of Romance

Our second or third winner for that matter, Ewa Kniaziak, introduced her submission to the 19,99 € Award with the kind words: "Dear jury, the first photo was taken at the .HBC in concert. I'd like to win for the money. Thank you." She immediately stroke me as a smart tactician since she knew by the time she sent in her application that our terrific 19,99 € Award ceremony was going to go down at the .HBC as well. Then again, pretty much everything decent in Berlin is happening there lately, so I guess I don't have a point. I also know her pretty well, thus I didn't really have to make any guesses about what kind of person she was. Our jury however didn't know her, so I'm all the more happy that they noticed that she's a good one. It sort of consolidates my believe in the fine art scenes, since it seems mostly pretty random what these folks like and dislike and 90 % of the self-proclaimed connoisseurs repeat some crap they found in already renowned blogs anyway. Yet my incapability of developping sound and profound judgments about pieces of fine art still remains, it's pretty different with literature, I don't even have to read it to know if it's good or at least worth burning.

If it comes to Ewa Kniaziak's photography "Let's give up on the idea of romance", our jury had some concerns about the title, yet they all agreed sooner or later that it was way more than just corny, technically very well-done and beautiful this is.

Gusti Gould Korban: "I still like "Let's give up on the idea of romance". I had an initial hesitation before choosing it (perhaps somewhat similar to your initial feeling that it's kitsch, Martin) because I felt it was "too mainstream". But then I realized that wasn´t a good reason (worrying about how I looked!) for rejecting it. It's visually quite beautiful with great textures and use of light. [...] From what I've seen so far it looks like none of us is ready to give up on romance."

Lasse Lawrence: "My second favorite piece would be "Let's give up on the idea of romance". I cannot really explain why, it's cheesy and a little hippie or 70's revival. But I must say that despite of that it's a beautiful photography work in terms of light and shapes or movements. I printed it in a very bad quality on a shitty paper on my terrible printer at home and I must say that it still looks beautiful, maybe better! I like this impression of suspended moments, I know a song called "Suspended in Love" (it's not a cheesy song at all, it's even completely hysterical), maybe it has to do with that. Time, motions, senses being suspended and that's the other part, the other side of the picture, that keeps us away from the danger, the danger to be drawn, to fall out of senses. Being suspended reminds us that we all will fall at some point."

Martin Beck: "I printed out the Romance-Picture as well, and I must say it makes a much better impression, when it’s not in that Windows-window where you always see that silly title above it. What strikes me is the complete lack of sexiness of that scene (that’s of course a very subjective thing), and I guess that indeed justifies the title to a certain extent. As I always have a problem with making my mind up with a single photography, I did something forbidden and googled the title, and seeing it in the context of the other pictures I think it’s not stemming from such a cheesy mindset as my first impression was, and there is an interesting examination of light, contrast etc. And on first glance I find some of the other pictures better than the submission. Still I think the title is a no-go."

Cornelia Huth: "Yes it is the most pathetic theme to choose ever. It's drinking too much and writing love songs. Black and white. I get the cheesy, the mainstream, being to agreeable and over-aesthetical. It is somewhat the perfect picture (and picture perfect) for a hip advertisement in Berlin Mitte, just name one. That's the thing, but that's no reason to dislike it, as Gusti said, just look at the streetart sell-out shit that's happening at the moment. There is no real or unreal, I think the context is wide in this case. It captures an individual, intimate moment and generates another individual feeling, memory, taste or smell. That's not new at all, it’s not pointing at problems or arousing intellectual discussions but it shows the ability of an artist in general to generate something out of everything. The apparatus just made the transportation visible, one to one. Moreover this little box changed the way of our perception in general. It just brings us to see pictures everywhere and see everything in pictures. All the other things I agree with too, interesting shades of light, unexpected effects, not able to localize, looks like underwater. [...] This could be the work of Ryan McGinley's assistant (who by the way was the youngest artist showing at Moma ever and at the same time working for the New York Times, the Olympics, fashion stuff etc.). It includes all the references of subjective photography or like other people say, documentation photography (Goldin, Tillmans). Although I like the medium and it's way of transporting the theme, I am having a hard time, like Martin, judging photography by just one picture and without any context information."

Here we see the young lady early in the morning, still haunted by nightmares that only a good cold morning shower can wash off.

No One Loves Music - "Kill" The Mix Tape

Fun Club Initiative now podcasts "mix tapes for idiots" - just a few minutes of joy and fun for the poor and lonely. We don't take any responsibility for what happens after, it's a crude mix of styles that - after going through the Fun Club mixer - is barely bearable. Free you ears sisters & brothers...


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Malgorzata Szandala - Nearly Impossible

Last week I presented Bas Hendrikx' Award winning candy distributor "Candybars", today I'm honored to introduce the second first winner of this year's 19,99 € Award, Malgorzata Szandala, and her piece "Nearly Impossible". The thing with having two first winners is that there's a strong tendency to refer to a first first winner and second first winner. Is Bas Hendrikx the better first winner because I presented him first? (Am I a chauvinist for treating gentlemen before ladies? Or a feminist (with a sweet tooth for Marilyn Frye) for the same matter?) Or is Bas Hendrikx the less valuable first winner because I spent less words on his presentation? Then again, why do I mention his name so often? It's a damn cool name, that's for sure, but so is Malgorzata Szandala, Malgorzata Szandala, Malgorzata Szandala. I just love the beauty of echolalia. However, I really couldn't care less and I'm mostly asking myself why I'm asking myself all these damn questions. Despite the fact that there were moments in my life when my psychological constitution was to be considered more sane than it is these days, I'm rhetorically prancing through these questions because there is indeed a reason why I presented Bas first and Malgorzata second.

For weeks now I've been going through all the letters our jury members exchanged in the process of finding a decision. While reconstructing the spirit of decision making within the art industry, I discovered that our jury didn't exactly fall in love with Malgorzata's piece at first glance or as Gusti Gould Korban so felicitously verbalized: "It grows on you." Here we see "Nearly Impossible":

And here are a few things our jury members pointed out in the course of their "postmodern" discourse:

Cornelia Huth: "I like this one. A short message made of stones (that's what I see) thrown intentionally on the ground to make it look like the complete opposite, just fallen there, saying "nearly impossible", sounds like a funny parody to me. The blurry symbolic language puts it in-between: high and low quality, streetart and land-art, serious and ridiculous. As Lasse said before, I do like reading short messages everywhere as well and finding this while wandering around would make my day. Moreover, I somehow experience a zeitgeist feeling here. The phenomenon of transporting messages, expressing feelings, staying in contact, making arrangements these days. Everything you have say to your friends / family / lover / world is in 120 letters. Starting with text messages and facebook. I can’t even remember reading a letter on real paper. Like the title says: (For me) it is nearly immpossible to explain things in this form, but that's what we do all day. Funny too. I just like the twists this piece is able to transport."

Gusti Gould Korban: "I can hear the crunching sound that walking on such gravel makes, something which always makes up for its ugliness and here the touch of green does the same. The message is a pleasant surprise that subtly humanizes the barrenness. The idea is a clever one that works. It brings an immediate smile to the observer who then is able to easily make a myriad of associations both aesthetic and philosophical. And it grows on you. The combination of inanimate rubble, green life and the unexpected words of man, barely visible at first glance, makes for intelligent whimsy. I wish I were able to join you all for a drink..."

Lasse Lawrence: "Even if I don't really get the topic of this piece, I like the idea of walking down some random dirty rocky path in a nature park or something, finding such an unexpected mysterious message on my way, it reminds me of Cosmos, a book by Gombrowitz, where the walkers find a bird hanged on a branch in their way to a refuge, and start their investigation from this point - and start to see signs in the smallest elements of the surrounding environment, leading them to some unlikely speculations."

And here you see a picture of Malgorzata, Bas didn't send me one, but I'm sure he's also pretty:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bas Henrikx - Candybars

Life ain't scary, it's just pretty expensive. Sometimes I'm glad I don't have any wives nor kids that I have to shoot when there's nothing more to pawn. Bas Hendrikx from Amsterdam, one of two winners of this year's 19,99 € Award, doesn't have to worry about money anymore.

Jury member Martin Beck writes about Bas Hendrikx' installation "Candybars" from 2009:

"Candy Bars is my winner because of its intricate and complex entanglement of the aesthetics of minimalism and our regressive desire for cheap sensual pleasures. References to minimalism can be found in its rectangular box shape as well materials such as frosted glass, metal and neon lights, rendering it a highly aesthetic piece. Yet the minimalistic practice of manufacturing a work of art with the means of industrial production seem to be reversed by artistically recreating a functional object that is itself a standardised item of serial production. The resulting piece fits well into an art space, yet it confronts our wish for a refined acknowledgment of its formal and material qualities with our regressive sensual desires and the automatism by which consumer capitalism is ready to cater them.

An image that reminds – judging from the rather bad quality picture – of a pink bucket, a drink or a meaningless abstract emblem, offers a pleasure that is as cheap as it is sweet, unhealthy and redundant. At the same time promising and withholding the designated object of our infantile desire, Candy Bars represents a study on display, taste, aesthetic experience and objecthood at times when the art sphere is increasingly incorporated in the entertainment industry."

Jury member Lasse Lawrence adds:

"I like the piece because of its triviality in an art space. [...] I like Candybars because it reminds us that art turned into the product of some diluted consumption and exhibitions are the places where this diluted consumption takes place. It's not only "let's have a break, let's have a candy bar!" it's also let's have a break, let's examine why we visit exhibition spaces, what we come here for?"


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The 19,99 € Award Fun Explosion - A First Glimpse Of The Ceremony


So unfortunately we have to divide the 19,99 € in half. We will inform the winners shortly in person and agree on a safe way of shipping the fortune. [As soon as we have enough time to breathe.]