Since it opened in 2016, the Kindl Centre for Contemporary Art has quickly become a mainstay on the Berlin art circuit. Last year alone, the independent art institution housed in a former Neukölln brewery offered nine shows in their rotating programme. This February, after nearly 20 years as curator, Managing Director and Head of the Video-Forum at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.), Kathrin Becker took over from the founding Director at Kindl.
You took the helm at Kindl as the pandemic started, now you are opening four shows this month. That’s quite a comeback!
Yes, it’s four exhibitions because we have established an additional exhibition space. Before, Kindl would have three exhibitions at a time, but this new video space that we will open in September is a new format and will be inaugurated with a work by Ann Oren. I often feel that video art is not treated with the same attentive approach as other media. People think, ‘oh why not show a hundred videos within one day’, or ‘why not show video very brie y?’ I want to treat the space as a proper exhibition space.
So it will be one work by Ann Oren?
Yes, she will show a work called “Passage”, it’s a very sensual work, one might say erotic. We see a foley artist, a role performed by a gender-fluid person, working on a film about a horse, a trick pony, and she does the sound to it. At the same time, this person is going through a transformation and becomes a subject blurring the boundaries between human and animal, developing certain features of a horse. Within the space, Ann will have leather seats and hay because she wants to create a sort of Geruchskino, cinema that relates to smell.
One of the other artists you’re showing in September, Lerato Shadi also works in video, right?
Yes, she is showing two videos as well as photography, neon signs and a new body of work that she creates in textiles. Shadi deals a lot with aspects of exclusion and inclusion, criticising a certain Western perspective on history and the marginalised body plays a big role in her work.
What can we expect to see in Nik Nowak’s exhibition?
There will be two sound machines, similar to tanks in a way, opposing each other in a situation that looks like a border. Nowak will deal with sound as a means of political propaganda and manipulation. One machine references the Cold War history of Berlin, there was something like a radio war happening from 1961 onwards. The other machine deals with Jamaican reggae sound systems which in the 1970s were instrumentalised by the rivalling political parties: on one side the Cuba-friendly socialist PNP, on the other the conservative JLP, which is believed to have had ties to the CIA.
Last but not least you have a group show called The Invented History.
Yes, with 12 artists that come from various backgrounds and deal with this idea of bringing to our attention historical narratives that are deliberately hidden, that are forgotten. For example, Chechen artist Aslan Goisum’s “People of No Consequence”: a video where he works with survivors, aged between 79 and 105 years old, of the deportation of the Chechen people after WWII. There are many more works that deal with historical narratives as well as artists that approach this theme in a futuristic way such as Yael Bartana, she will exhibit fossils she has made of weapons: a Kalashnikov, an Uzi and a Smith & Wesson. Her narrative is that there will be a future when arms don’t really exist.
On your appointment you said you wanted to increase the focus on social issues in the program at Kindl. Is that represented in these shows?
All the exhibitions we’re opening now deal with critical historiography, all of them. This is a theme I find very important at the moment, especially when you look at political discourses and anti-democratic forces around the world that are starting to change and manipulate history to suit their needs. However, I’d also like to have more exchange, events and all types of encounters with initiatives and people that are based here in Neukölln. When Corona allows, we will begin a cooperation with another neighbour, a local school.
Nik Nowak: Schizo Sonics Sep 13-May 16 | Lerato Shadi: Maru a Pula Is a Song of Happiness Sep 13-Feb 7 | Ann Oren: Passage Sep 13-Feb 21 | The Invented History Sep 13-Feb 21, Kindl Centre for Contemporary Art, Neukölln