This former bear pit in Köllnischer Park has recently been repurposed into a fairly downtrodden but dynamic exhibition space.
The park was a well-known queer cruising area and the works in the show reflect on that history and issues surrounding desire – both in public and behind closed doors. On either side of the building in the former bear baths, Lucas Odahara has installed upright ceramic tile studies of a nude Adolf Brand, a gay-rights pioneer and antisemite who confused attractiveness with the idea of “Germanic racial purity”.
These works conjure up an ur-masculinity and, in their mirrored duplication, question homogeneous ideals of beauty. Around the water trenches, hanging off the spiked barbs once used to keep the bears in situ, hangs Lindsay Lawson’s steel pipe installation. Almost imperceptible, you only hear its soft chimes as the wind picks up.
The old bear cages have been converted into claustrophobic galleries where Constantin Hartenstein’s resin reconstruction of an ornate toilet door hints at anonymous, intimate and illicit activities. For such a small space there is loads to take in, including Christa Joo Hyun D’Angelo’s menacing installation playing on toxic masculinity and human vulnerability.
One of the more thoughtful intriguing shows on offer, it’s definitely worth a visit.