Photo by Clemens Wilhelm
The end is coming. MMX, the artist collective that overtook Linienstraße’s last Altbau a year ago, is putting on its final exhibition – Show VII. And as they have been all year long, MMX squeezes an international group of artists, from Korea to Argentina, into the renovated space. Each artist takes a room, moulds it and presents artwork that embodies the somewhat optimistic theme – “the end is just the beginning”.
Jeongmoon Choi’s UV-light installations turn intricate string sculptures into a life-size labyrinth. Argentine painter Juan Arata, inspired by his interactions with Berlin’s nightlife, shows his Francis Bacon-esque portraits. The ever-evolving bar is tagged by DC-native James Bulloughs. In the next room, Risa Puno’s vending machines serve up suburban delicacies and they do it under transfixing auto stereograms (commonly referred to as "magic eye" images). The maze continues to Clemens Willhelm’s search for the best joke in small-town Germany, a must-see video in the screening room.
Identity and space seem to be questioned in every room.
And that has been one of MMX’s roles during its year-long project: questioning the space in which we show art and the identity of an art scene. Berlin has been compared to New York in the 1970s and 1980s, but do we really want Mitte to become the SoHo of the 2000s?
The exhibition opens October 29, with an undercover garden installation replete with smoke, sound and steam. Tacos Berlin’s mobile Mexican café will be there. No doubt, this closing show is in part a celebration of MMX’s success.
"The end is just the beginning”-theme of Show VII's screening room is an accurate description of MMX’s story. Since exhibitions at MMX began last January, it has reinvigorated the concept of artist collectives in Berlin. Once a hallmark of post-Wall Mitte, these collectives have been trumped by gentrified gallery fronts with corporate sponsorship and paintings to match the upholstery. What we once thought was the end of independent, progressive art in Mitte has been resurrected. But where does it go next? Stay tuned.