Thursday, April 23, 2009

Klaus, der Ast

Hereby I would like to introduce you to my new friend, Klaus der Ast*. I have met him last Saturday. Saturday night actually. You see, it was a really long evening. First we went to see a lecture by "The Yes Men" at the TAZ Kongress in Haus der Kulturen der Welt, after that I went to a birthday party of A.L. (he is a boyfriend of my writer friend, T.D.) - I love their parties and it is also nice to spend some time with writers instead of visual artitsts... And after the party, all 3 of us, went to the opening of 2 news clubs in the neighbourhood. On one hand it is practical to have so many clubs in Friedrichshain, on the other - there are more dubious crowds getting drunk... and there is the danger of the gentrification, which seems to be happening in that (our!) area alredy... so with all these philosophical thoughts we made our way to RAW in Revalerstrasse. On the way, on our quiet (still) and empty (still) street I found... I met HIM! Klaus der Ast (in german Ast means branch)... he was lying there, sad in the darkness... so I decided to take him with us. I didn't take his brother, Horst, that would have been too much and we didn't have enough invitations. Actually it is my little hobby to collect branches, I did that few times, back then in Poland. But it is a different story. So now the 4 of us went to the opening of the Astra Club in RAW area. Unfortunately as I saw bold and big bouncers I have decided to leave Klaus hanging on the nearby fence. I was wearing my crown, that was already too much for micro brains of the doormen, but they let us in. Klaus had to wait. And the club itself... well, big, however empty. Maybe we were too early (2am)? All the drinks were like for 1 euro, but in my vodka drink there was no vodka. Should have had a beer. Still a juice for 1 euro is reasonable. I was just a bit disappointed. DJs were playing (I admit) boring music. So we moved on to Suicide Circus, the next club in RAW which was opening that night. And again, as I saw the bouncers I decided to leave Klaus out of it. He was waiting hidden behing a door. And that club? It was smaller, and full - maybe that was just a feeling or simply the proportions. Drinks were... oh, gin-tonic for 6,50 euro... no happy hour, oh no. But at least there was alcohol in it. Music? Old time techno, which is ok. The rhythm is so simple that you can't really dance with wrong movements. Left, right, back and forth, bam, bam, bam, easy. As it was a long marathon-like evening soon we went home. On the way I picked up Klaus. On Revalerstrasse (in the direction our quiet street = home) a group of young, drunk as we were, people started to chat with us, especially with Klaus. I introduced him to them and we talked a bit. It was actually a nice and methaphysical talk. I can't really remember the details, but it was really mystic. Somehow. I felt like in Poland, I felt like home. And I liked one girl. That happens to me sometimes... old times. Finally we reached our street, we said good night to Horst (the brother of Klaus) and climbed the stairs home. I took Horst with us. He lives now on the balcony. I don't know how long will he live, he has no roots, but I have noticed, to my surprise, that he really lives - he has buds! Is it spring? Is it magic?

Klaus der Ast in his new home.

*No, it is not the dean of my Architecture Department at the Poznań University of Technology, Robert Ast. Any similarities are purely coincidental, although there are some similarities, I reckon, as I look at Klaus... similar name, similar mustache... heck, who knows?

Sentence of the day

Since a month I park my bicycle next to a dead bird. Every day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Friedrichshain Hank Williams Incident

In the developed country called Germany, in the cool and arty city called Berlin, in the hip and underground district called Friedrichshain, in the hippie area called RAW in Revalerstrasse, in the rockin' place called R'nR Highschool... people, like the club owners were so close-minded that they have thrown us out while we playing music. Last night we had a concert with Doc Schoko, Doc is a "real" musician, he is known in Berlin. So we were invited to perform together with 3 other bands. Yes, a real concert. The first band started around 11pm, with nice and soft rock. And after we played our versions of the Godz's songs. I must say what we do, what we did is a bit different than rockabilly or rock'n'roll... we play improvised music. And even there were not many people in the audience, after 6 songs which we managed to play, somehow some people didn't like it, mostly the club owner and his girls. So when we played the "Hank Williams Song" he turned Jacek off, and turned his music on and he shouted we should stop playing. Doc was furious, he was still playing wildly, shouting and singing, I wanted to fight, Patrick didn't notice anything. So there was a little... there was an argument and in the end they have really switched us off. I mean, even if one doesn't like a band, still, we played half an hour, it was not that dramatic to switch us off... it is just very uncool and very unpolite. We were really offended and we went off the stage. I think it is a shame for the club, very uncool. And so we went to the last place of the freedom in F'hain, to Sheriff Teddy - it is a very local and cool bar (thank god) far away from the uncool tourist areas of F'hain. Our last bastion of the freedom of expression! We even played there once, last summer. We did cover songs of Kylie Minogue. Long time ago. In any case, we went there and we chilled.
It was the second time we were thrown away from the stage. Well. and again, we have a song from this incident - we have recorded the Hank Williams Song and the argument - it is free for download here:
We were the REAL bandits there, with our music! Ha!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Stadtplandienst vs Anna Krenz

In February I was in Rotterdam, on a journalist trip - we have visited Design and Art Fair, we have been to Rem Koolhaas' office and some young dutch designers' studios. Once we went to see an exhibition in the office of a collectors' family (I don't really remember their name). We have been treated with coffee and sweets and a young woman, the daughter of the rich businessman and his wife, an art collector, was telling us, that she continues the family tradition and buys art works. she said she was really happy and proud to buy works from young (and older) dutch (and international) artists thus support them.

Oh, lovely chocolates...

Oh, coffee... (at the collectors' office)
I was in a way astonished that there was this rich girl who was actually happy to support artists! But that was in Holland. The Dutch are different. And What do we, the artists in Berlin, get from german (or polish) businessmen? Are they also happy to be able to support young artists? No? I tell you what they do.
In January I have received a letter, from lawyers of the company which runs a website "stadplandienst". It is a website with maps of Germany. In this letter was an invoice - I was supposed to pay 2200 euro for using a piece of map (from stadtplandienst) on our gallery website. Yes, I have put a screenshot (about 500x500pixels) with a map and our gallery marked on it. I am almost sure nobody was really using it, but still - seems it costs 2200 euro.

(of course this is not a real map, I am paranoid, even if one takes a photo of a map - not a screenshot and publish it on a website - one may get an invoice...)

Not to mention I have lost my job, being realistic about art market in Berlin, and global crisis - this money was just what I needed to spend. So I have got myself a lawyer, yes, yes, I have had a lawyer of my own! Talking to him and arranging everything in my poor german, whatever. I have learned some german law vocabulary - at least something positive. After weeks of arrangements, letters and statements (like I had to proove I am a poor polish immigrant, an artist - which was not that difficult - it's true anyway) my (own private) wonderful lawyer has made an agreement and the stadtplandienst lawyers lowered the amount of my fee. In the end I didn't pay 2200 euro, I have paid less, I guess I cannot tell you how much, still - it was all together way TOO MUCH.

So this year started not-so-lucky-as-I-thought. I have learned few things by the way and I have told myself to never ever use stadtplandienst anymore, which is a shame, I was really using it to find adresses, and I think the website is a good one - but now I have to use Google maps.
And I just hope I will not be sued for this post...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Catastrophes and design in Wrocław

Two weeks ago I went to Wrocław to give a lecture about "Design and catastrophes". Yes, As I love to give lectures, I don't really care on which subject. The BWA Design Gallery asked me to speak about something, related to design I guess, so I answered quickly without thinking (as I was painting my catastrophic paintings): "sure, I hold a lecture about... catastrophes! And design!". As I have sent the title... I had like few weeks to come up with something about design and catastrophes. And so I did - I analysed, thought through and came up with ideas and conclusions. The lecture started with a movie of an asteroid distroying the earth... and the rest went smooth. But I don't want to write about the lecture here, but about Wrocław.
I love that city (although I come from Poznań) because the people there are really different - they are very open, nice and a bit wild (in a positive sense). My adventures in Wrocław and my relationship with this city started in 2000. Back then we did a project in Wrocław (we even won a prize in the Euro Art Meeting Festival for it). It was a mirror ball (2m diameter) in Zelaznicze Passage.

Our installation with the screen during a performance (Gućwiński on the photo - he was the director of the famous Wrocław ZOO) in 2000.
It was one of the best times of my life - not only we successfully did an instalation, but I had so many friends with me, my parents came, even my long lost cousin came - I have met her for the first time in my life! We found each other by accident... that is a different story. However one of my dreams came true then - I was always dreaming of driving one of those silver shining garbage containers which I saw in Poznań once. These containers were on the streets only for one day - for the day of the (polish) Pope's visit in Poznań. The day after the visit - containers were removed... such a shame - they were so new, so clean and so silver! On the evening before I was out in the city with my friend, we saw one container and I wanted to sit on it and drive away... however as soon as I climbed in on it... out of nowehere.. out of the bushes came a guard and ousted us away. That was in Poznań. Long time ago.

One of those silver bolides... a real dream.
So when I saw one silver container in Wrocław, all new and shiny, and we have already drank some tequila... my friends put me on the top of it and we drove off... to the next bar. As my dreams are quite simple - it is easy to fullfil them. Practical! And it was one of those dreams... No wonder I love Wrocław. Later of course I remember wonderful time during my exhibition in BWA Awangarda... And now - again - I have spent 3 great days, wandering from one BWA gallery to the other (there are 3 all together), having coffee and food with all my Wrocław friends. I tell you - Wrocław is not only a bautiful (in its way), it is also very walkable and as for the food - oh! There are so many inexpensive bars with healthy food... a real paradise. I miss that in Berlin. I miss good food (biiig portions) for reasonable price.

Isn't that satisfactory? Isn't that portion big? Oh, I love it... big.
What I also like are all those strange shops (although that is typical for the whole Poland)... like that second-hand shop (all in the BWA neighborhood)...

What I find totally interesting is... the chandelier... Wrocław is famous for porcelian and glass...
And about the BWA itself - another funny discovery! In the yard behind BWA Awangarda there is a cage... a cage in the trees... yes. Strange. It appears that the cage is for a marten (polish: kuna) - appartently there are martens living in Wrocław. So the scientists from the Polish Science Academy installed a cage with a bait (eggs) and a sensor - so when the marten is in the cage there is an alarm in the lab and scientists run quickly to the BWA's garden, catch the marten and stamp it with a number. All scientific! We didn't see any marten, but... we saw the cage.

The cage waiting for...