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Daniel Rich and Wieland Speck: Berlin

Horton Gallery
504 West 22nd Street, 212.243.2663
May 28 - July 10, 2010
Reception: Friday, June 11, 6 - 8 PM
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Horton Gallery is pleased to present Berlin, an exhibition of paintings by German-born Brooklyn-based painter Daniel Rich, and a video, photographs, and soundtrack by Berlin filmmaker, Wieland Speck. The exhibition centers on Berlin as a politically charged space, a sense embodied by the eponymous wall that divided the city from 1961 to 1989. The exhibition coincides with the gallery’s opening of a summer project space called Sonntag in the North Mitte / Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood of Berlin.

Wieland Speck’s 1978 video “Berlin Off/On Wall” depicts a young man, the painter Per Lüke, climbing the wall to play the harp seated on the structure. Though the musical instrument that he plays has generally peaceful associations – or at least peace-imbuing possibilities – the locus of Lüke’s performance makes it a transgressive act. The performance draws crowds on either side of the wall until the authorities intervene to end the protest-performance. It is a documentary short, shot with a hand-held Sony Portapack video camera.

Daniel Rich’s “Basement/Berlin Wall” continues the exhibition’s examination of the division between East and West through his depiction of a basement passageway sealed with brick because it happened to fall directly on the dividing line. Coupled with the artist’s series of three paintings of the Berlin airports, twenty years after the fall of the wall, these remnants of East and West Berlin become emblems of entrance and exit, articulating with equal potency the frustrating immobility dictated by Cold War politics. Depopulated scenes, as in all of Rich’s works, lend these structures a menacing quality, further enhanced by the technique Rich employs. The process and materials by which these paintings are produced – enamel on Dibond, and made using stencils – more closely resembles sign making than academic painting technique. In their depersonalized, mechanized quality they resemble Moholy–Nagy’s “Telephone Pictures,” or paintings bereft of the proverbial “artist’s hand.”

The work of both artists is formally divergent: Speck’s video is a shaky, cinéma-vérité reel, unmediated by any extraneous stylistic concern whereas Rich’s work is slick and considered. However, it is the notion of specificity of place, moreover specific built structures as articulators of political circumstance that constitutes the strongest relationship between Speck and Rich’s work. If Speck’s video deals directly with the physical symbol of political upheaval – i.e. the wall – Rich’s take on the same conflict is refracted in time and space, though it is rendered with comparable urgency.

Daniel Rich (b. 1977, Ulm, Germany) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received a MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art. In addition to Horton Gallery (Sunday L.E.S.), his work has been featured at Perry Rubenstein and Elizabeth Dee galleries, New York, NY, as well as the Maramotti Collection, Reggio Emilia, Italy. He has received grants from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation, where he will have a studio in the fall.

Wieland Speck (b. 1951, Freiburg, Germany) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. He studied Germanistik, theatre science, and ethnology at Freie Universität Berlin. As a director, writer, and actor, his films have received international acclaim at numerous festivals an on television – most notable is “Westler” from 1985, which depicted an east/west homosexual love story.

Wieland Speck’s “Berlin Off/On Wall” is exhibited in collaboration with Exile, Berlin
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