I stand in front of a wall. It's huge and bright and largely empty. Only two framed pictures hang on it. I try to look at them as concentrated as I can, but that doesn't change the fact that only a couple of stick figures were drawn on the white canvases. They stare back at me. A sun in the corner, some grass on the ground. Everything's black and white.
The one next to it doesn't offer a much more adventurous experience either. The gallery owner sits bored on a wooden chair, typing on her iPad. Connoisseurs, patrons, and buyers buzz around me. And I just want to scream. Art makes me angry!
My friend Julia and I went to Art Week in Berlin this weekend. Big and small galleries all over the city offer admission, with just a relatively inexpensive ticket, to a kinky world that may otherwise remain hidden to many. So we went to Art Berlin Contemporary, to the Opernwerkstätten, to the Kunst-Werke, to the Hamburger Bahnhof. In between, some coffee. And my anger, deep inside me, grew stronger and stronger.
I saw everything. Huge blocks of fat on the floor. Fists on ropes. Newspaper clippings behind glass. Brains on a table. Memes printed out on cardboard. I waded through a sea of Justin Bieber posters and when I looked up, some guy was jerking off another one on an old color TV. I would have loved to grab the nearest gallantly strutting art lover and yell at him:
What am I supposed to feel, what am I supposed to think, what the fuck are you guys trying to tell me?! Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!
You have to figure out for yourself what you want art to convey, Julia says as we walk to the next gallery somewhere in Berlin-Mitte.
No one can tell you how to feel. At that moment, I feel stupid. Just plain stupid. Because in front of every painting, in front of every installation, in front of every sculpture, someone is standing with someone else, and they are talking about what they see there. They discuss, they praise, they criticize.
What the artist was thinking with this choice of color. What with this material, what with this angle. While behind me there is a veritable orgy of blood with dead animals, fresh vegetables, and young people dressed in white and dictated by a half-dead fat Austrian, I stand in front of a picture with stick figures. It costs around 2000 bugs. Would it be worth it to me if I ripped it off the wall now and beat up gallery owners, creatives and collectors with it until someone can give me an answer to the only question I have:
I love the art world. I love those beautiful people who are better dressed than any Fashion Week visitor. I love the big, bright buildings that were once train stations, workshops, or factories and now serve as a parallel universe to a world torn apart by war, hate, and poverty.
I love the large-format magazines and the old books and the breathy red wine and the intellectual chatter and the absurd prices and the girls armed with burlap bags roaming galleries alone on Sundays, positively brimming with impetuous introversion and buzzing sexuality of a cute student living somewhere in an old apartment in the middle of Kreuzberg who you can fuck only after talking to her for hours while sipping on red wine on a Saturday night. It's just the art itself I don't get. But that's the main point of being here, isn't it?
Then I feel like a New York Post reading Fox News viewer, who votes for something with xenophobia on Sundays and would prefer to rip the balls off child molesters, but at night, when his wrinkled wife is asleep, masturbates to photos of his underage niece.
Anyone who doesn't appreciate art turns into a junk food eating, lettuce discarding redneck with a Windows PC at home. It's all artificial. They'd rather watch soccer than go to a museum, prefer fat to carrots, beer to wine, cunts to muses. Too stupid for art, too conventional for beauty.
But there's light at the end of the tunnel. I scurry past watercolor paintings, leave wax figures on the left, wander through rooms without sense and reason, but they give me nothing and that's all right. Instead, I like striking photographs. But I already knew that before.
I love to observe people observing art. I pick up the vibes of a world that is so absurd and beautiful at the same time, that suffers and hopes, whose cuts between poverty and wealth are harsh. I like to get upset about stupid art. Does he want to fuck with me, I say. 2000 bugs for that shit, I ask myself. That I could create something better in kindergarten, I splurge.
But that's not what it's all about. I'm aware of that myself. But I don't care. I laugh with and about art and all the trash that sells itself as such and therefore is exactly this at the same time. I tell myself that stick figures, Austrians and Justin Bieber don't give me anything, but the mere fact that I still think back to what I saw this weekend proves me wrong.
Art makes me angry. Not everyone can say it has that effect on themselves. And even if 99 out of 100 things I see make me angry, they still flood my thoughts, they energize me, they bring back memories and joy and... a whole lot of hate. And the few bright lights that cling to me, I pursue them, I stalk them, I want to know everything about them. Why, I ask myself then. How, I ask myself. Where, I ask myself. And especially I ask myself: What on earth are you trying to tell me?