Body pressure at the Hamburger Bahnhöf Berlin


Presented in the stunning central atrium of this former railway station, this sculpture retrospective covered work from the 1960s to the present day.
With a superstar cast, selected works were looking at the body and our place in the world. This came across conceptually rather than chronologically, and for me started with Fischli/Weiss’s piece showing a simplistic representation of the male and female forms.
Paul MacCarthys parody of Koon’s parody of Michael Jackson and Bubbles dominated the first half of the space with its commentary on celebrity culture, celebrity artists, production and the grotesque distortion of reality.
Gradually we were implicated into the work itself, with John McCracken pointing out our place within the artworks, and Franz Erhard Walther inviting us into being the artwork. Further dematerialisations came via Nam June Paik giving us reflection on our ego’s place in things, aided and abetted by technology, and Nauman providing us with a printed set of instructions on how to make the work ourselves, using only our bodies, and leaving no trace but in our minds. The instructions remain however.
Taking us to our natural conclusion and inevitable place in the natural order was Tino Segal. The artist who not only works without trace but seems to live without trace, he is not listed in the catalogue. His contracts are only ever verbally agreed, and the work is presented by others. The sung piece This Is Propaganda rung out in the space at regular intervals, sung beautifully by an artist dressed in regular museum uniform. She blended perfectly with the other staff until she began to sing a simple beautiful melody, before announcing the title and artist. The echoes of the tune remained briefly until she blended back into the regular environment. The recent murder of a soldier by religious extremists in yeah UK make the lyrics “This is propaganda. Heroes. Heroes.” more prescient than ever. This makes me value the other staff more too, and suggests democracy, equality, and the irony that in the end we are all to return to dust.
Even writing this about the work seems to be changing it already.

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