Bringing Down THE HAUS

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This weekend I withstood and instance where I waited in line for over three hours. Why, you ask? Art, my friends. For art. Art makes us do crazy and uncomfortable things.

The site of THE HAUS in Berlin was your typical, “Office Space”-style building of 1990s gray blandness. However, the building is condemned to be torn down and made into luxury condos, befitting of this high-dollar, posh neighborhood below the southwest corner of the Tiergarten in Berlin. However, until that time, a group of 165 artists from around the world have transformed 108 rooms into an artistic galaxy, full of individual, artist-created, planetary experiences.

 

There is no photography allowed within THE HAUS. In fact, they provide you with an opaque, sealable bag to place your phone into for the duration of your visit. Initially, I experienced the typical Millennial FOMO of not being able to recall these experiences through my photo library and was crippled to conjure some sick Insta-game. However, I was on board with the intention to experience THE HAUS completely firsthand, and not ever through a screen. Also, this place would have been bright screen and selfie infested if the rule hadn’t been put in place. Not only does this law also match the temporality basis of the exhibition itself through its limited life before demolition, it was also sharply practical by recognizing that the art was best benefitted without the presence of phones.

 

Now, for the good part. I can’t possibly encompass this experience through written description. Going in, I thought that the inside would only be filled with graffiti, which is awesome, of course, but in actuality, there was so much more. Each room, including stairwells, bathrooms, and broom closets, was transformed into its own atmosphere. Installation art, sculpture, cartooning, film, and sound art in addition to endless styles of graffiti and street art could all be found within. Beyond installationsenvironments, alternate realities—entirely separate worlds were created. A pitch black room gave way with backlights to lead you along a winding path through a neon forest. You may find yourself in a sticky-fuzzy apartment bearing the title of the world’s largest moss installation. Or, perhaps you will be entranced just wandering the hallways and staircases leading you through endless labyrinths of intertwining creations.

 

I wish I could tell these artists thank you. And, perhaps also congratulations. THE HAUS is the art museum of the streets. Those involved in its creation have commandeered the concept of the art museum and brought the outside, inside. You can avoid any stuffy museum-like or market-influenced environment here, while also not trekking for miles to see a great collection of street art. This collective exhibition brings the art of the streets to you, consolidated. The doors are open to the public, eagerly inviting any and all inside, with an accessible donation-only entrance suggestion.

 

Was it worth the wait, you ask?

 

Yes. Absolutely, yes.

 

Why wouldn’t she just buy a ticket for the guided tours so she could skip the line? A fair point, friend. However, they are all sold out. This isn’t surprising considering the demolition is at the end of this month, which is arriving at a break-neck speed. My advice: Get there an hour early before they open, bring a friend, bring provisions, and just know that it’s worth the wait.

 

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Personal shots of the outside of the building
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ğ: The Queerest Letter

IMG_1203Personal installation shot of ğ – Queer Forms Migrate

ğ – Queer Forms Migrate at the Schwules Museum in Berlin provides a critical examination stemming from an insightful yet, whimsical premise. “ğ – the soft g” is a letter that was added to the Turkish alphabet in the early twentieth century and has no counterpart in the Latin alphabet. Its only purpose is to lengthen the vowel in front of it. As explained by the curators on the museum’s website, “ğ is an oriental sound-letter that migrated to a western body of sorts.”

This exhibition takes its inspiration from the migration of the ğ and has given it a reputation as the queerest letter. A large Turkish population exists in Germany from a long period of migration between the countries. This exhibition is specifically attuned to examining the exchange of the LGBTQ+ community through a transcultural lens. The curatorial proposition asks the question, “What if ğ left Turkey to migrate to Germany?” The queer letter becomes a symbol for the integration not only of migrants but more specifically of queer migrants, into the German context.

The concept of this exhibition is best encompassed in the standout piece, İnci Pasajı by Viron Erol Vert. This piece hangs just off-center in the gallery from heavy chains bolted to the ceiling. The piece presents a levitating, traditional Turkish rug suspended atop a bed of shiny, studded leather. The piece implies the exitance of bodies and its own use by two partners, engaged on a kinky sex swing that doubles as a magic carpet ride. (There is a pun there somewhere.) The colorful rug in combination with German Leder is a marriage of cultural symbolism with a sexy, queer twist.

Upon visiting ğ – Queer Forms Migrate, the viewer will be stimulated. Not only by the sometimes provocative imagery, but also by the call to deeply consider the particular experience of this example of queer migration. This point of consideration is extremely relevant to German/Turkish culture and take a leap further down the rabbit hole by calling forth further reflection on what this cultural fusion signifies for the LGBTQ+ community.

IMG_1204A closer look at İnci Pasajı by Viron Erol Vert (personal photo)