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Opening: Katharina Arndt – welcome to the pleasure dome
November 30 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm CET
Katharina Arndt – welcome to the pleasure dome
30.11.2023 – 04.02.2024
To look is an act of choice.
Long acrylic nails, Peaches, a *killer* partner look, your arm pit hair starting to grow back, stick-and-poke tattoos, smelly ashtrays and (how could it be otherwise?) plenty of smartphones: welcome to the pleasure dome!
In this exhibition, Katharina Arndt emerges as a keen observer, capturing the intricate networks of modern society, urban life, and her own identity — both as a painter and a Berliner. Inspired by the Frankie goes to Hollywood song, the title of the exhibition ironically alludes to the dichotomy of this place —a city known for its hedonistic pleasures and, simultaneously, a breeding ground for social inequality and ostracism. Berlin, for Arndt, is not merely a geographical entity; it is a hungover, an orgy, a cigarette butt. Her work delves into the ever-shifting boundaries between public and private spaces, a negotiation constantly shaped by the global dialogue of an indistinct multitude. The pervasive influence of social media further blurs these boundaries, creating a society in perpetual connectivity.
At the core of Arndts works lies a central painting with illustrative spirit, an unconventional map of Görlitzer Park populated by its usual human and non-human public – tourists, trees, the canal, ravers, dogs, drug dealers, paper bins, skaters. Through Arndts agile brush, the park transforms into a complex landscape, reflecting the multifaceted nature of Berlin—a city that demands attention, challenges preconceptions, and leaves you yearning for more.
Arndts artistic lens focuses on the often-overlooked facets of urban life. Beer cans and filthy urban furniture become central themes, inviting viewers to confront the detritus of everyday existence. In these works, the artist strips away filters, processes of value-attributing, and hierarchies of meaning.
A doggy bag is as significant a communicator as a nuanced facial expression, or even a great outfit. The artists commitment to capturing the unvarnished truth creates a visual language that feels extremely necessary, specially nowadays— in the manicured social media echo chambers that we curate for ourselves we rarely get to see oursurroundings. Arndts paintings serve as a portal to the complex relationship between identity, societal expectations of beauty, and the all-encompassing influence of the contemporary. With a focus on urban life, her works navigate the transient, the contingent, and the banal, unveiling the layers that make up the present moment.
What adds an intriguing layer to Arndts narrative is her inclusion of self-portraiture in her works. In ‘me as an artist’ she unabashedly enjoys a cigarette, presenting it as an object of desire that exudes coolness and mystery. The cigarette becomes a symbol of indulgence, a fleeting moment of pleasure in the chaotic cityscape. Yet, in her bigger paintings, we see a contrasting image of Arndt—jogging, dressed in sporty attire, distancing herself from the unsightly cigarette butts protruding from bins. This duality within the artist herself mirrors the contradictions within Berlin—the juxtaposition of hedonistic enjoyment and the desire for a healthier, more simple existence.
At first glance, Arndts artistic perspective may appear light-hearted and playful. However, beneath the surface lies a profound engagement with society at multiple levels. Central to Arndts exploration is the absurdity of daily life and the human condition, portrayed through characters engaged in a relentless pursuit of connection and acceptance. However, her work transcends mere voyeurism, elevating each panel to a contemporary genre piece—a frozen fragment of young, evolving identities navigating the interplay between digital expectations and imperfect reality.
The exhibition, in essence, is a visual diary—a cartography of the mundane. These paintings are not just representations but tangible records of the artists experiences, offering viewers a chance to step into the artists shoes and witness the world through her gaze. In doing so, she constructs a visual narrative that speaks to the diversity and complexity of the urban landscape. As viewers navigate the exhibition, they are confronted with the duality inherent in Berlins identity—a city that simultaneously nurtures and challenges those who inhabit it. Arndts commitment to authenticity, her refusal to impose value judgments, and her ability to transform the mundane into the extraordinary redefine the viewers relationship with this place. In embracing the chaos of in our lives, Arndt invites us to reconsider our own perceptions of beauty, meaning, and identity. The exhibition serves as a testament to the power of art to capture the spirit of a city and, in doing so, encourages us to welcome the pleasures and perils of our own journeys.
Text by Lorena Juan