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Press excerpts on the exhibitions of Nam June Paik in the Deutsche Guggenheim and Miwa Yanagi in the Museum Weserburg, Bremen


Techno party or classical Vanitas motif?
Nam June Paik in the Deutsche Guggenheim

Although Nam June Paik is a video art classic, the critics are divided on Global Groove 2004 in the Deutsche Guggenheim. "Despite all the technological optimism and all the invocations of philosophical and artistic traditions in Paik's texts, Global Groove 2004 isn't much more than a highly refined, self-satisfied, hard-to-take techno party with mystical airs, in contrast to some of the artist's previous installations." Peter H. Feist's judgment in Neues Deutschland could hardly have been more direct. On the other hand, Alexander Kluy's review in the Frankfurter Rundschau almost sounds contemplative. On the work Candle Projection, which was also shown in the exhibition, he wrote: "A distinguished mood closely related to the melancholy of the groove update resonates in this closed-circuit work: the passage of time." With the seriously ill artist in mind, Kluy sums it up thus: "Paik reanimates synchronicity in the classical Vanitas motif - and reinterprets it."

In the Berliner Zeitung, Ingeborg Ruthe praises Paik's Fluxus-tinged humor in two articles: compared to the works of many epigones, Ruthe remarks that "the master's art seems younger, laconic, intense, rich in story and refreshingly ironic." In the Berliner Morgenpost, Gabriela Walde joins in with a reference to the superficiality of today's television landscape, noting: "This leads us to recognize how close Paik's artistic vision of the cable mess has come to the globalized and highly complex reality of the 21st century. But the viewer is allowed to smile a little, too. Paik always did in his works." In the Tagesspiegel , melancholic tones can be overheard in Nicola Kuhn's observation: "But the oddest image was Paik himself, old and damned to passivity among his 'video walls,' almost as though he himself had somehow sprung out of the tube. The procedures he developed have long since become a part of any halfway professional advertisement; there's hardly a club without projections to the music, hardly an exhibition without a video installation. In the person of Nam June Paik, this art seems both old and young at the same time."

In the taz, Tilman Baumgärtel honored the ailing artist's unexpected presence at the exhibition opening with a detailed account of Paik's behavior throughout the press conference: "Even if Nam June Paik has been sitting in a wheelchair since his stroke, he can't refrain from disrupting the formal atmosphere a little bit." Following an old impulse from his Fluxus days, and "having barely rolled up to the microphone," Paik first greeted the public with the Kennedy quote "Ich bin ein Berliner," after which he "indulged in his memories of Germany in a mixture of English, German, and Korean that was difficult to understand." Thus, Baumgärtel also couldn't refrain from crowning his appreciation for the exhibition with a quote by the master himself: "Video is a kind of time machine. You have all these tapes, and then you can look at your beautiful past."


"Digital User Surfaces":
Miwa Yanagi in the Neues Museum Weserburg in Bremen

"Depths in space and time on user surfaces" is the title of Arnulf Marzluf's article in the Bremer Nachrichten, in which he subjects Miwa Yanagi's works from the Deutsche Bank Collection currently on exhibit at Bremen's Neues Museum Weserburg to close observation: "In contrast to the classical perspective, where the viewer is situated opposite the vanishing point, Miwa Yanagi's images contain several perspectives that mirror one another as they unfold. The photo artist doesn't treat the camera lens "ontologically," as a medium of objectivity; rather, global space appears as the construction of a consciousness that refers to many social locations, perceptions, and encounters and from there develops its own topology." In the Japanese artist's two series, Elevator Girls and My Grandmothers, Marzluf makes the almost sober observation that our "dreamed future fantasies" and "experiential environments assimilate" to the construction of "digital user surfaces," or: "The future rises. In their cool magnificence, the large formats and stagings seem realer than reality." In Verdener Aller Zeitung, Johannes Bruggaier was also impressed by Yanagi's works: "Yanagi's photographs are as plastic and rich in color as any ordinary advertisement. She also utilizes modern society's consumerist impulse. Yet she neither deals a precise blow to it, nor is she interested in creating a simple parody." Instead, her works, "the most fascinating thing about which is the technical precision," offer an impressive revelation of "the misery at the heart of our lustful, instinct-driven culture."