Ellen Rodenberg & EX-MĘKH_FeMaler
Vitrine U - Kleistpark (U7) in Berlin
Opening with performance
Ellen Rodenberg was invited by A-Trans to make an installation one the Theme Femmes-City-Berlin.
Therefore, she invited her colleagues of EX-MĘKH to participate.
EX-MĘKH, consisting of Ellen Rodenberg, Kees Koomen und Maarten Schepers, came together as a collective that wants to examine the nature and process of making exhibitions. Since 2007 EX-MĘKH have done exhibitions in many kinds of spaces, ranging from tiny and intimate spaces till huge halls. The context of the work and its presentation must always be newly developed and redefined.
Preparations in my studio 2020
Studio situation, The Hague, NL, June 2020
Maquette: Maarten Schepers (l) installation of the two vitrines in Berlin (r)
Isolde Nagel (Atrans) and the openingsrituals of the project of A Femmes City in U bahn Kleistpark, Berlin.
Performance Kees Koomen ‘Knocking on heaven’s Door’
FeMaler. Installation Ellen Rodenberg (l)
Have you seen the Stars Tonight. Installation of Kees Koomen and Maarten Schepers (r)
Opening action Ellen Rodenberg, un-taping the window.
Inviting the audience to draw
At the opening, the first drawings by the audience are presented.
De afzonderlijke verf afdrukken hebben vormen aangenomen die voor meerdere interpretaties vatbaar zijn. Pareidolie, Rorschach associaties geven ruimte aan individuele geheugenactiviteit. Uitwisseling roept onmiddellijk misverstanden en dus de roep op uitgebreidere informatie. Maar de taal maakt het misverstand vaak alleen maar groter.
We delen elkaar enkel bestaande categorieën en indelingen mee.
Waar is de ruimte?
Individual paint prints have taken forms that are open to multiple interpretations. Pareidolia, Rorschach associations give room for individual memory activity. Exchange immediately evokes misunderstandings and thus the call for more extensive information. But language often only adds to the misunderstanding.
We only communicate existing categories and classifications to each other.
Where is the space?
Thoughts afterwards 1.
Vitrine U, A Femmes City
The test phase for the Schaufenster (Ellen Rodenberg) lasted 3 months. Laying cotton sheets and cloths on large sheets of white board, applying the thinned paint, folding it, drying it, pulling it loose, hanging it up, folded, hanging loose, curled up, creased, observing a composition in which the individual paint forms as floating in a space brought together to be entirely itself. There they are like a staged aquarium in which all attributes and living organisms are artificially and carefully composed together for the admiring eye of the maker and the viewer.
The theme A Femmes City (a project from Atrans) and the U bahn location have both influenced the new work that has been developed. I have been looking for a concept that leaves room to discover new insights, directions and vistas. The Covid-19 pandemic made us uncertain about when to implement it, but not about feasibility. The opening and public rituals continued to contain uncertainties until the very end. As it has been, can be seen in the photo report.
Preparations and artistic work process,
Underlying thoughts of what is actually female? What are feminine qualities? Can you tell from a work of art whether it was made by a woman? What's the point of this sorting of kind? Who benefits from this?
In any case, I saw advantages for dealing with the subject by involving the EX-MĘKH group in this. We have never made a distinction before, on the basis of male or female classification.
Three people, 2 men, 1 woman, we have never tackled a theme like this before.
In the conversations with the other 2 artists of the EX-MĘKH group it became clear to me that especially the way of working, reasoning and considering is different, possibly even feminine in nature. Where is the difference between character and gender? A distinction is always arbitrary. My conclusion was therefore, let's make the separation artificially for this project. The 2 men will work in 1 display case together and I as a woman work in the other display case. Language alone feels unbalanced, inadequate.
Simone de Beauvoir, Camilla Pglia, Luce Irigarai, Joke Hermsen bring me a new gender awareness, but not directly on deviant work. The work must be done first. It is only by living life that you discover what you really "want to do". This is not an empty slogan. Being busy is deeply human. The meaning of this is tangible, visible, noticeable in everything around us. The situation, location, atmosphere of the environment is an essential factor that influences how and what you are doing as a person. The how and with what, that is the question. I think both are individual in nature. Masculine or feminine is too crude a form of characterization. There are so many factors that determine how you act in a given situation.
The title FeMaler summarizes this dilemma. Fe femmes (Fr), female. maler(D), male (Eng), femaler (Eng).
How and with what?
The method has been practical. After a few conversations, I noticed that we best use the proven method that we have been using as EX-MĘKH for more than 10 years. The theme can be interpreted in its own way for everyone. This means that everyone also proposes their own version. The fact that Maarten and Kees together have 1 display case at their disposal is a complication that they themselves have to deal with. This is also the first time that the spatial distribution is uneven in the beginning and not a point of discussion. Maarten and Kees have divided the space in their appropriate way. Maarten Schepers made his own design for the display case, Kees immediately played with the idea of "the Muses". In consultation they have brought several ideas into 1 artwork. Title: Have you seen the Stars tonight? Including the performance by Kees Koomen: Knocking on Heavens Door.
The Schaufenster I had at my disposal was the same size. As with a solo exhibition, you only have to deal with your own work. Although the theme played a role and the concept has led to an artificial division, I am curious about the outcome. What can be read from this?
For the time being, the work has been made and will be on view until October 18, 2020 in Vitrine U, Bahnhof Kleistpark, Berlin.
The public is invited to respond (visually) to social media such as Instagram. # FeMaler_U7_Berlin
The public space U7 Kleistpark.
The opening took place at 7 p.m.
Given the covid-19 situation, there were not too many people, so a distance could be kept.
The performances and rituals were also geared to this. Partly behind glass and partly at a distance from each other.
Temporarily appropriating a space and being publicly visible without any commercial ulterior motives is one of the aspects of a good public space.
By doing a performance in a public space, there is always the chance that something unforeseen will happen,
which also happened (see photos of the intervention of a passer-by looking for his own audience for his own cause).
One ran back and forth "smoothly" in the other.
After the performance "Knocking on heavens Door", Maarten and Kees' Schaufenster was transformed into an interior that will be on view until 18 October.
The days before the opening, the display case was only occupied by a swimmer and a stone.
The title of the installation is: Have you seen the Stars Tonight.
The opening ritual was followed by an opening act by Ellen Rodenberg.
I had pasted short pieces of tape in green and red on the Schaufenster.
The opening act consisted of simply removing the tape, which by the way did not hide anything.
The tape did, however, provide the temporary visibility of a "4th wall".
After putting the tape on my pants I stepped into the role of hostess and handed out drawing books.
I invited the public to view the installation FeMaler and choose part of it as inspiration for a drawing.
I photographed their drawings and it was posted on Instagram under the hashtag #Femaler_U7_Berlin
Thoughts afterwards 2.
The words i didn’t use at the opening of ‘Femaler’.
A Femmes City
I like to use James Browns song, ‘It is a mans world, but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl’, and turn it into If it was a womans world, it would be nothing without a man or a boy.
Camilla Paglia who wrote ‘Sexual Personae’ would agree. She wonders: What drives us to be sexual and violent?
That is the reason for inviting my fellow male partners from EX-MĘKH to work in the second vitrine.
A way to get to know each other better. Although we work already for over 10 years together.
The differences are visibly obvious. The motivation can be guessed.
Men, women, we are different. That must be traceable in the art also.
The two vitrines show how.