Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ich bin ein Japaner...

Yesterday we decided to go to a bar called ArtBar71. ArtBar71 is a hipster hangout in Mitte which typically has an interesting scene for drinks later at night and always has some sort of art on display.

What "rode" by as I was waiting outside, a six-person bike:

We're in the middle of Fashion Week Berlin right now and the bar had been temporarily taken over by a Japanese art collective. Their exhibit was called "Toyko Comes to Berlin". The artists were all there, including a photographer, painter, and product designer. They had also taken over the bar and were serving champagne and Japanese Summer Noodles while they waited for the Catwalk after-party to arrive. Needless to say, a couple of Americans in jeans stood out in the crowd...

We tried the summer noodles, which I really liked. They were cold and served in a salty broth with spinach in small glasses.

The photography was focused on the alternative lifestyles in Japan, including several posed pictures of a man who was completely covered in tattoos. There were also photos that had been drawn over, including images of the destruction in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami. One picture depicted a destroyed city area, with a boat completely intact but positioned on top of a multi-level building. The artist had then drawn (with what looked like white-out-type ink) the image of someone with a rocket pack blasting towards the sky and away from the destruction.

A visual media piece showed various clips of what appeared to be Japanese businessmen enjoying a Japanese brothel. The paintings, sample below, took a street art/graffiti approach to traditional Japanese cartoon imagery. From what I could understand (which was not much), there was also going to be a live painting later that night by the same artist. All in all, the art was a conflict between traditional expectations of Japan and modern realities. The jarring images tended to highlight pain, discord, and loneliness, with fantasies about leaving or wishing for something different. The feeling I got personally was very similar to the discomfort I get from art produced by Germans and Austrians during the Weimar Period (i.e. Otto Dix and George Grosz), although the style was significantly different. I also felt like this art was a reflection more of the individual's wish to flee, rather than the condemnation of society that Dix and Grosz depicted.

The product designer we spoke to was very nice, but I have to say I wasn't all that into his work. He had designed various household items, include a bowl and utensils, that were very simple and plain. I didn't really see what he was contributing to design in general. To be honest, though, I also couldn't understand why UCLA's new logo cost $100,000, when it just looked like someone had taken the old logo and italicized it. I don't usually get modern design concepts...

For people into modern art, I highly recommend both this exhibit and ArtBar71 in general. The bar rotates work through fairly frequently and a lot of up-and-coming people have exhibited or performed (music) there.

Kronenstra├če 71
10119 Berlin
030 20879998

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