The Berlin Art Week is finally over. My body is still aching from the dancing on Thursday (today is Monday) and I am a bit sad that I only got to see a fraction of what the week had to offer. I'm not going to pretend I even had a chance. The general feeling was that of art-fatigue even before the week had begun. Doubtlessly this was also due to the fact that I was helping out with my partner's opening the week before (it went great) and that I flew to Stockholm over the weekend to participate in a talk and also suffer through the general elections in Sweden where the, basically fascist, party, the Sweden Democrats, became Sweden's third largest party (not shitting you) which had a huge impact in a general feeling of depression and frustration which in turn didn't exactly inspire to engage in a week with art-extravaganza. I guess I was a grumpy cat from the start. There was only one thing that made me a little bit more cheerful, it was the "booth" hosted by Sprüth Magers featuring John Bock. First a general observation about the fair - I really appreciate that there are no traditional booths any longer. The fair is more generous, and it looks better. Anyway.
Upon entering the opening of the ABC art fair, a friend tipped me about the John Bock "kiosk" where he was handing out toast Hawaii. Who can resist that? I stood in line for more time than I like to admit - even though there only were like four, five persons before me, it took a very, very, veeeery long time to hand out the toasts. The wait was intentionally, naturally, paired with the flaws from what comes from not being an actual toast-maker for money, I suppose. As I'm a veggie I can't have ham anyway, but I still wanted to experience the John Bock-toast. As a little treat, the people waiting in line were given a drink - egg-liquor served in an eatable cup made of a chocolate covered cornet. Absolutely disgusting, mind you, but of course I had one. A friend of mine was given a yellow belly candy-snake as well.
The toast Hawaii was a highly popular dish in West Germany in the 50s, it was something that was served on festive occasions such as New Year's Eve and such. After a quick search we find the origins of the Hawaii-frenzy in the GDR, namely the popular TV-cook Clemens Wilmenrod . The line, however, and having to wait for almost an hour, made me think more about DDR than GDR though. Below, a wonderful clip of Clemens, the cook, when he, after being accused of not being the inventor of stuffed strawberries (eehh...!?) threatens to kill himself if someone on this planet has eaten or even heard about stuffed strawberries before him (action at 2.08).
Anyhow, the wait for the toast was rewarded by a fresh drawing by Bock himself of a "Böse Mann" (angry man), and quite possibly it was sort of a self portrait? Now and then, every 20 minutes actually, the yellow curtains behind Herr Bock were lifted, and we got to see the "monster" in the back of the kiosk. Someone said that the monster had somewhat of a "blackface", and indeed the dude was painted black. But my thoughts didn't really go into that direction, instead I thought about the extremely sad and tragic, however magnificent, orangutan at the Berlin Zoo (horrible place, by the way). On the other hand, why were the creature so black?
The performative action was a lecture, and was named "In the House of Boogie-Love" and the monster was impersonated by Kazuma Glen Motomura. Motomura is a "bodypoet" - a dancer and choreographer living in Berlin with some serious moves. Still confused by the "lecture" and the orangutan-creature, I'm also very happy about my new "edition" of paper-plate böse-mann-drawing by Bock.
There were other things to look at, at ABC. Can't say I stopped at much. I went back to the fair a couple of days later with an 8 year old and below the images she took. I had no impact in her choice of motives but let her choose what she liked and what she wanted to remember. She also took one of the images in the gallery with John Bock, after hearing about what happened during the opening and she wanted an image of the soft toast Hawaii in front of the kiosk too, but this was, perhaps, more affected by the story than her taste, I can't tell.