As a general premise, I don’t like going anywhere alone, especially to a restaurant. I recently learned that there is one other activity I don’t enjoy doing solo – visiting galleries. The irony of the matter is that if I visit a gallery with someone, I want to be able to view the works in peace and quiet and not engage in a running commentary. So why can’t I visit an exhibit alone?
Well, the thing about going to a gallery with someone is that
1. If I get lost, at least there would be two of us…
2. The old adage, misery loves company.
3. I hate small talk, so by attending with friend, I know I won’t be forced into unnecessary small talk with strangers I don’t care to meet again.
4. Most importantly, I like to evaluate the exhibit before writing the blog, and for that I need to bounce off my ideas on someone, and then enter into a discussion. You can’t possibly do this alone.
Berlin is a treasure trove when it comes to cultural events. There is always some concert or exhibition going on in some part of town, on top of the trade fairs and special events. I have yet to learn how to attend these events on my own, but for now, house guests are the perfect reason to visit a gallery or two with someone equally passionate about photography or art.
Some people like to dissect a movie or a TV show after watching it. I indulge in sharing impressions about the exhibit I just turned my back on, for better or for worse. Many of these events are hit and miss, and in some cases I completely miss the point of the artist! There was nothing amiss about the Sony Photography Awards 2018 though, and the Willy-Brandt-Haus is just as spectacular as the exhibit itself. It took a while to actually reach the exhibit because the exploration of the building itself was so fascinating. The photography tribute to Nelson Mandela´s 100th birthday is a parallel exhibit being hosted on the ground floor and is also worth every minute you spend there.
Over at the C/O Berlin, a resurrection of sorts is going on by way of the Polaroid photos. The collection of Wim Wenders’ polaroids dating back to 1972 when he embarked on his first trip to the USA, and leading up to the days he scouted for film locations along the German-Czeck border. These photographs recreate a fascinating era long before we had mobile phones and internet take over our lives. To me, the wide-eyed manner in which the collection begins is nothing spectacular considering I spent a good part of my childhood in the USA during summer vacations, but it is always an interesting cultural study to see how others document their first encounter with American culture – pretty much the way I documented my first visit to Germany.
I wouldn’t have considered visiting any of the exhibitions alone, simply because it would have made me feel desolate and lonely. Exploring them with a friend and fellow photographer, on the other hand, added two dimensions to the experience that I value and respect. It transformed the event into a shared experience, and that has made all the difference.