news_art_20042017

"The House"

Berlin (dpa) - Those who walk through "The House" find a completely different world in each of its 79 rooms: in one there are comic-style paintings of aliens, which only become visible in black light, in another there's a room full of moss.

Out of a former bank near Berlin's famous Kurfuerstendamm avenue, 165 urban artists have created a temporary museum. It opens in April and closes in June when the building is torn down, taking the art with it.

You can smell it as soon as you enter: the sharp smell of paint alerts you to the fact that graffiti artists are among the exhibitors. 

But aside from graffiti there's also the full palette of urban art: tape art, typography, plastics.

"It's not just a graffiti exhibition," says Kimo von Rekowski, 32, in a broad Berlin accent. "It's a high quality exhibition of really different cool shit."

He and his friends Joerni, 41, and Bolle, 41, make up the urban art group Dixons and also run an advertising agency. "The House" was their idea.

Artists from all over the world are taking part; from Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland. All in all, they've come from 20 countries.

"But half of them are from Berlin, we want to support our mates," says Kimo, who prefers to go by his first name.

Every solo artist or artistic group gets their own room to do with as they please. Including corridors and staircases, that comes to 101 spaces.

And aside from avoiding provocative political messages, the Dixons didn't lay down any rules.

"We just told people that they should develop a concept for their space, give it a theme," says Kimo.

Philip, a 32-year-old who works under the name Senor Schnu, loves the idea and sees the project as an opportunity.

"It's a cool platform on which to present yourself and your art," he says. It was he who came up with the moss room.

He wants his installation to question what he sees as many people's hypocritical dedication to green lifestyles.

"Everyone pretends they want sustainable things but then they still run around with smart phones and plastic bags," he says. That's why in the middle of his moss-filled room he placed  a laptop, as a contrast.

Philip needed 400 kilograms of moss for what he says is the "biggest moss installation in the world," and another 200 kilograms of yoghurt to stick the green carpet to the wall. It cost him 500 euros (533 dollars) in total.

All of the artists had to pay for their own materials as "The House" doesn't have a sponsor. However the organizers still aren't asking for an entry fee.

Real estate company Pandit did allow the Dixons to use the empty building for free, since they have plans to tear it down in June and build a block of luxury flats.

The artists have been painting, gluing and building their projects in the former bank since the beginning of January.

Kimo and the other "caretakers," as the organizers are calling themselves, have had hardly had any free time since then. "The weekend has been abolished," one joker has written on the walls of the recreation room.

Even now, a couple of days before the opening, they're still pottering about, tidying up.

Kimo's mobile rings constantly, and he still has to organize smoke alarms.

Is all this stress really worth it, if all of the artworks are going to be ripped down in just two months time? Of course, says Kimo.

"Our message is: Come here, enjoy the moment," he says, transiency belongs to the concept, as it does to life.

The only thing that will be left of "The House" in June is "The Book," 300 pages of photographs of the installations put together by the artists themselves. 

"It's a memorial to our project," says Kimo.

Visitors will be asked to put their phones in bags when they enter, so that they can't take their own photos - they're only meant to retain impressions and memories.

Tags: