|the scene as I arrived|
In Berlin for a few days last week and was lucky enough to be able to catch the opening of Cyprien Gaillard's new show at Kunstwerk entitled "The Recovery of Discovery." The "show" consists of a ziggurat of stacked boxes of beer. I was told that there were approximately 70,000 beers making up the pyramid at the beginning of the night. I say at the beginning, because by the time I arrived at 7 people were getting into it, and the bottles were already lining up against the walls. One entered the installation by proceeding down one of several hallways that opened up into a large atrium. Halfway down the hallway the cigarette smoke literally slapped you in the face, and upon entering the space one encountered a gracious public climbing, mingling, smoking, and yes - drinking. You could open any box you wanted and just pull a beer out. Some were already empty and being used as trash bins and ashtrays. There was no real method to the opening of the boxes, but patterns developed near the top and around the sides. The pyramid became steeper as the night went on with the first rows of boxes being decimated. Women's high-heels went through the cardboard as did peoples' legs as they descended stepping into partially opened boxes. I never saw any casualties though, and it must be said that the whole scene was quite civilized during the time I was there (which was too long). It was the first opening I've ever been to where there was no danger of running out of booze. This in itself presents another interesting situation, as I'm not sure if or when the installation closed (2am?). On opening night one could drink all you wanted for free, but starting the next day the visitor to the space would have to pay 5 euro to sit and drink (as much as he wanted presumably, still a good deal!). As this goes on the structure is not only destroyed, but consumed. As much by our own vice as our willingness to engage with it and one another.
Gaillard, mostly known at least in the US for his Desniansky Raion video- (a collaboration with the musician Koudlam), is a good artist. And despite the absurdity of this project, it conceptually fits into his oeuvre. I was told that originally the beer used was to be from Cambodia - Angkor brand beer. This of course referring to the ancient city and pyramids of Angkor wat, however, the logistics of this did not work out and hence the beer came from Turkey - Efes Beer, plan B. The ancient Greek city of Ephesus, the ruins of which are now in present day Turkey, was home to the Temple of Artemis. The temple was not a pyramid, but probably rather looked like the Parthenon. At any rate, it was destroyed and rebuilt numerous times - you can read about it here. So in a way, conceptually at least, the Efes beer works a little better, though no one wants to erect Greek Columns out of beer. (The beer company did custom make the boxes for this occasion.) Presumably then, Gaillard's pyramid will be "rebuilt" at times as it is being destroyed. I left around 10pm, the crowd was larger, louder, and smokier, yet there was hardly a dent made in the ziggurat. I wonder how it looked later that night? I did not return after the dinner. Anyway, there are plenty of videos of this thing on youtube. And I'm sure the net will keep us posted on its destruction.
One more thing of interest though was how this project could have happened at all. I was discussing with my girlfriend how this would never fly in the states - especially publicly funded, which if I understand correctly parts of this were. The beer alone cost 35.000 euro. That's a nice gift to a city that doesn't seem to have any problems drinking beer - but then again it is Europe. . .
|Cyprien on top of his ziggurat getting harassed by some random kids early in the night. |
There were kids everywhere though, and some had beers.
|View from the top|
|Sonny gritting her teeth and drinking warm beer like a good Fräulein should. |
(She actually has better pics of all this. Check FB)
|A proper opening.|