November 2020. The clubs have been closed for months because of Covid and I’m still waiting outside the Berghain for admission.

Morgen ist die Frage

At that time the techno club was home to an exhibition of the Boros Collection with works by Berlin artists. Admission as always only with mask, strictly regulated and in guided groups.

As we enter the Panorama Bar, there hangs a picture of 24 glass vials filled with various chemical elements on a white background. As a natural scientist, my curiosity is immediately aroused. The contents look quite familiar to me. The title of the picture: Selbstporträt (Self Portrait).

Immediately, the image catapulted itself into my top 5 list of favorite images. How can one represent only so reduced a likeness of itself? Down to almost molecular level in detail and as abstract as is humanly possible. Absolutely stunning 😍
Unfortunately, the tour then moved too quickly to the next artwork, but they were pretty good too….

The picture stayed in my head for a long time and I’ve been looking for more artworks by Alicja Kwade ever since.

Currently there is now in the Berlinische Galerie until April 4th 2022 a small special exhibition: In Abwesenheit (In Absence). She is acoustically present the whole time with her pulse, which is supposedly transmitted live.

Alicja Kwade’s work is inspired by philosophical, scientific, and social issues. In her sculptures she negotiates models and constructions for the perception of reality in order to question the possibilities of subjective and objective knowledge.

Besides several self-portraits, there are a few large bronze steals distributed throughout the room. The first association is of course that of the DNA double helix, which is also correct on closer inspection. If you go a little further, you suddenly see small openings and slits - undersides of iPhones.

In the room there are more boxes made of copper, filled with a lot of printed paper. ATCG. On the walls it continues, but this only becomes apparent at third glance. Again, everything is filled with the same pages. This is supposed to be the artist’s completely sequenced genome.
This artwork took me some time to grasp. Only from a distance, with repeated viewing and from other angles, I once again become aware of how much information is stored in each individual cell and what can be created from these few letters. Unbelievable.

The exhibition in one room is very manageable. I would have liked to see more. But it still gives a good impression of this incredibly great artist.

Since November 2020 I had been on the lookout again and again, where and if I can buy a self-portrait. Even though my apartment already has no room for another picture - for this it would be rearranged. However, I have always shied away from looking more intensively. If you look at the prices of other works such as the Time Machine from 2016 or Night from 2020 so, this unfortunately seems to blow my budget by far.

Then better design it yourself…

Pandemic Sunday