At the moment of my visit, there was only one thing on display at the KW, and it was apparently going for six euros a view. It was what has now become known colloquially among the Berlin (Facebook) Art-erati as the “Beeramid.”
As I entered the large hall and apprehended the view of two young German men talking on mobile phones sitting atop of—what was indeed—a pyramid of beer cases, I thought for sure this was a performance piece. Cardboard torn to pieces, bottles smashed, beer stench everywhere –the booze-porn frat-boy image of dudes sitting on a mountain of half-drunk beer bottles seemed like a fitting visual answer to the hoards of art tourists I had come past on my way to good old Kunst-Werke. Art as consumption, consumption as art, banalization of everything in ever-increasing-drunkenness, detritus, vomit… yeah. Berlin in summer, I thought.
I asked the attendant if I could take pictures, she said sure, and that I could climb the pyramid and drink, too.
Turns out the guys were just fellow artgoers and were trying to drink up their six euros’ worth; they were performance artists only unwittingly. I noticed signs warning me that I was to mount the pyramid at my own risk.
I suppose whoever is the first to disturb the integrity of the structure by falling through–or in—is legally obliged to remain entombed, or rather pickled, in the entrails of the structure. Perhaps that fallen false pharaoh will become a beer-cured mummy and will be smuggled off to some far away display case to be gawked at, out of context, hundreds, thousands of years in the future…
Just as out of context, for example, as the Egyptian bust of Nefertiti in Berlin’s Neues Museum, or the Pergamon Altar housed on Berlin’s museum island, which, like the Efe beer that makes up Gaillard’s structure, was transported from Turkey to Germany.
Germany is as notorious as England and its other ex-colonial counterparts for swiping the patrimony out from under the rickety states so many ancient cultures have had the misfortune to be buried under. And now, it seems, Berlin is once again the collector of foreign monuments—just now they are conceptual. The foreign artists and hangers-on flocking to the city believe they have done so out of their own free will, yet, the art-pilgrimage to Berlin (to eventually worship at the altar of the Biennale, which occurs in those same KW halls) is the spitting image of bio-power in motion.
Doping them with coolness, Berlin has colonized the brains of world’s young creatives into branding themselves with “Based in Berlin.” The city now boasts them in their museums and galleries as if their oeuvre were already posthumous, yet somehow proprietary to Berlin, and no doubt the ruins of authenticity they leave behind will be just as poignant—and perhaps just as valuable—as the destroyed remains of the beer pyramid.
~Mara Goldwyn, a writer living in Berlin.
(Images: Cyprien Gaillard,The Recovery of Discovery, 2011,Pappe, Glas, Metall, Bier / Cardboard, glass, metal, beer, ca. / app. 12 x 8 x 4,25 m, Foto / Photo: Uwe Walter; Foto / Photo: anna.k.o.; Foto / Photo: Josephine Walter;Courtesy KW Institute for Contemporary Art)