Thoughts On: Gallery Weekend Berlin 2018 (Part Two: NGORONGORO II)


NGORONGORO II at Lehderstraße 34, Berlin-Weißensee


Timed to co-incide with Gallery Weekend Berlin, April 2018 was witness to NGORONGOROII, the second such exhibition-event held in the Lehderstraße 34 Studios, Berlin-Weißensee. Tackling a description of the sprawling and eclectic mass of intertwining, clashing, rioting works has presented somewhat of a challenge. I set it as my second exhibition to write on, and there it has sat - some drafts and notes for almost two months after the event. I find myself asking the question: how can I explain something which seemingly lacked explanation within itself, adding my opinion whilst drawing forth or contributing new information on the exhibition or experience thereof? Luckily, I have titled my writing series' "Thoughts On" - a loose enough phrase to lasso in any number of approaches.

Entering through a wide gate after a long bicycle ride North we encountered an open courtyard crammed with people. The atmosphere was akin to an outdoor festival, with music and background chatter emanating from the dilapidated crumbling buildings; fire pits and improvised lighting giving an off-kilter glow. Struggling through the crowd it was hard to imagine how the space must look devoid of the spectacle of the exhibition. Normally working artists’ studios, the buildings and courtyard were once a 6,000 sq metre ceramics factory. In keeping with what we later found inside, the architecture seemed to clash with itself: dilapidated crumbling buildings devoid of windows and doors in one corner and next to it a swimming pool, fresh and clean - between two shining white one-story structures. 

NGORONGOROII's intention is the utilisation of the curative power of the artists' own personal networks. Posited as an artist weekend and initiated by Christian Achenbach, Jonas Burgert, Zhivago Duncan, Andrej Golder, John Isaacs, Andreas Mühe and David Nicholson: the show boasts no thematic structure bar the fact that it is a coming together of artists inviting other artists to show their work. This means that the show is free from the pressure or commercial concerns of the other galleries within the city. Indeed, the works are not even for sale, and the exhibition funded in advance by the sale of limited edition prints. 

The exhibition aims to emphasise it's bold mixing works from known and lesser known artists: naming itself after the volcanic Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania. This crater is simultaneously a lush paradise whilst also being home to the African continents' largest density of predators: a meditation on the freedom and beauty of creation whilst commercial concerns circle, ready to monetise and own at any point. None of the works within the show carried any labels identifying their creator - making it difficult to read some of them - but serving to level the works. I found myself responding to each piece more instinctually, viewing them with a freedom from the hierarchy of knowing it is by an "important" artist, "worth" more monetarily or intellectually which can lead to you as a viewer giving more weight to one work over another based on an idea or value which has been decided by "the market". In levelling the work this way, the experience of the exhibition was enjoyment, freedom to judge and see openly without preconception, creating a more genuine response to the art-objects and works on show.

What makes a good work for me, one which I respond to? Typically I enjoy Art as an experience. I like work which truly challenges me and my preconceptions of what Art is or is not: the doing of a thing, an action, something wild and silly. If I come out of a performance or see a work that has made me say: "whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat"?! then I know I have had a good time. 

That said, the works and art-objects which I responded to most strongly to were (in order that I came across them and with accompanying notes) as follows: 

**Glittery Cowboy Penis' title unknown, artist unknown, collage

(Ah my god, amazing. Reminds me of a friend's work - must send it to her. Totally ridiculous.)

**Bjorn Melhus video title unknown, Bjørn Melhus, video work 

(Melhus video the perfect parody of internet and instagram flash - fame, look-at-me, colourful, not overbearing, really comedic. Stuck in a loop on repeat, glitching.) 

**Colour Fountain Kate's Cantine, Patrick Will and Caspar Wülfing, mix media installation/sculpture

(No idea, but colourful and wild.) 

**Large Rotating Lit-up Heart with a Dagger Through It Toxic Schizophrenia, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, mixed media sculpture

(what would you even do with that? Much of the work seems to be made for the insiders, even, work made for the artists themselves or for people who know the art world and how to parody it in a big way.) 
DoubleHeader Double Pleasure
Tim Noble and Sue Webster
Installation View. Photo:

A black palm tree with bra and crucifix on it Title Unknown, Artist Unknown, mixed media assemblage

(a grasp at narrative, I could just see the artist last minute spraying the dead tree black and throwing a couple of items on it - 'see, this is art!'. It has death, sex, and religion all in one!) 

A Ball of Penises Double Header Double Pleasure, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, mixed media sculpture

(upstairs within the largest building that you had to queue to see - giving the sculpture a weight of anticipation - Penises of all shapes and sizes, plastic, rubber, covered in an allusion to cum(?) so daft and so pointless it is completely hilarious); it is only now during my research that I have understood the shadow of the ball creates the effect of two heads. 

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