Berlin Gallery (Berlinische Galerie)

Today I visited Berlinische Galerie, Germany's contemporary art museum in Berlin.

The Berlin Gallery was quite impressive in its use of space. It is a comfortable museum to visit: spacious but not too spacious, filled but not overfull.

There was an interesting installation piece by Simon Fujiwara, a London-born artist who lives in Berlin, and a number of historical selections from the Berlin Dada movement.

The rest was rather a lot like what you'd find at most museums: some paintings here, some paintings there, maybe a sketch or two, some installations. For my taste, largely ho-hum; but the installation piece from Simon Fujiwara, that was quite unique.

Titled, Phallusies (An Arabian Mystery, 2010), it sought to recreate a story from four points of view: four researchers who were working on a new museum building, at an undisclosed location in the Arabian Desert. While working there, in what is said to be a true story, these four museum workers came across an ancient stone phallus-like structure, and the exhibit explores their different memories of the phallus: Was it three meters or eight? Was it really a phallus or just a column? Was it eventually destroyed, buried, or shipped elsewhere? What was the phallus, and what happened to it? It felt like a hoax, or a hoax explored, but there was also a bit of a shrugged-shoulders feeling to it, like maybe there was this stone artifact, that may or may not have been historical, that may or may not have been saved or destroyed, that regardless was probably less important individually than the museum project already underway. The installation itself wasn't anything exceptionally, but conceptually it was quite interesting.

Which brings me back to the Dadaists: While studying art in college, I always was impressed by the philosophy and theory behind Dadaism; however, when I find myself face-to-face with its remaining works, or in many cases replicas of its remaining works (since the Dada mentality and preservation didn't exactly always go hand-in-hand), I find myself bored by the works, but impressed by the thought and movement behind them.

Marcel Duchamp's (R. Mutt) Fountain, one of the most iconic images from the Dada movement, is only a urinal. Perhaps the world's most famous urinal, but still just a urinal.