Kunstverein St. Pauli – Parkplatztreffen 3
by Anna Sabrina Schmiid (transl. by Maxi Lengger)
14th floor, the top. Best view. Panorama. In a matter of seconds, a damaged elevator had snatched me and my emotional hangover from last night’s wedding out of the bustling shopping hell and the lure of the train station’s in-house electronics chain Media Markt and delivered us onto the parking deck. Did I need anything else? Batteries, a toaster, a 5-channel home-entertainment station? Through a reeking stairwell, past the local youth’s oaths of love immortalized with sharpie, I reach the outside, sans car or toaster. I inhale the fresh city air and move the first meters on asphalt and perfect white markings on the ground. There is no one here. Just me and the 360° view - metropolis kitsch.
Parking lot reunion No. 3; one level below, the others have already arrived. Three cars lined up in front of Hamburg’s silhouette are showing their rears and glancing into the distance. The parking level as the observation deck; a meet-up for city kids in love, it seems. Memories of my first boyfriend, a car mechanic, and my first car, a tuned Opel. No question, this place is a multifunctional shelter in the midst of maximum urban development. Unseen - or so it seems.
I am almost on time, which is good, because the police has already left again. Thanks to video surveillance, the unusual gathering of children and adults over the age of 30 with an unusually high share of heads with caps had apparently attracted attention to the parking deck. Kunstverein St. Pauli invited Andrea Bakketun, Paul Barsch and Tilman Hornig as well as Stephan Janitzky – artists whose works are shown here in cars instead of exhibition rooms. There is also a telephone guest: Tintin Patrone. Her audio piece can be reached via 0151 611 60 112 and triggers associations of Nintendo, race car and jump and run games similar to the Kunstverein’s website.
In pursuit of the bass, I approach the middle car; a white Toyota Verso. The view through the window reveals a remarkably clean black interior, as good as new, with a sportive children’s seat in the back. Surprised, but not irritated, I spot an iron in it, followed by two more in the front seats – a family vacation of sorts. On bodies made of textile cable that rotate upwards like snakes sit slightly tilted irons, like charismatic heads. For a moment, I am back in the electronics store Media Markt with my shopping list, perhaps also due to the pervasive bass that shapes the atmosphere of the scene with a laid-back instrumental loop and makes the iron-heads bob. Noddingly, the sculptures by Paul Barsch and Tilman Hornig overlook the city – a posthuman scenario. A similar one could be seen by audiences early this summer during their exhibition project HOPE at TU Dresden, though unfortunately this excludes myself. There Paul Barsch and Tilman Hornig, who both work alone and in tandem and run a platform for alternative exhibition concepts together, installed a zombie apocalypse in 17 rooms.
The vacation spirit continues on the far right in a blue Opel Combo with an open trunk. Sun protection screens cling to the windows with suction cups. One of the two displays a seemingly historic black and white Norwegian landscape. At its center, a man is looking out into the distance, he too is enjoying the view. The windshield wipers motion an abstract drawing made of fabric that swings from left to right irregularly, somewhere between being afflicted and apathetic. In the rear part of the car, a white background is installed. On it is a sculpture of sand and copper pipes in a vase - minus the water. Above it, again on white background, the projection of Mediterranean motives in small formats. An extract from Andrea Bakketun’s current film project, as the artist, born 1983 and a resident of Oslo, reveals. The images of palm trees and water in this constellation are merely resting zones amid works that trace back to her confrontation with her grandfather’s ambivalent history, she explains. A Norwegian art dealer, he had bought paintings by and for his friend Edvard Munch from the National Socialists. Searching for clues, Andrea Bakketun, whose installations resemble an experimental setup, traced this problematic past in her grandfather’s former apartment.
A lot of time has passed comfortably without incidents, when suddenly everybody turns around at once: a car! The most natural thing in the world, a car looking for a parking spot on a parking deck is the center of the collective attention and now weirdly out of place. The matt black car stops for a moment before it hesitantly drives off to park elsewhere. Not unlike a group of harmless teenagers who turned a corner earlier today in a conspirative mood and slowed down abruptly, bewildered by our presence. I was right, this is a place to be alone in. Our group has meanwhile grown in size and become difficult to overview: lots of small and grown children, an enchanting baby, curious looks into the cars, conversation about summer vacations, plans for the weekend, rents and current projects. A little aside yet not too far away, I spot a collection of cranes. It’s been a while since I have been here. Some familiar places and former open spaces have disappeared, Altona is changing.
The third car: Damn, a black Jeep with tinted windows. The open door on the passenger’s side and a garland spun across the car beckon to be approached. Several black and white copies of moths are
hung on a clothesline to seem like party decorations or pennants on a finishing line. The copied moths combine beautifully with the dramatic grey of Hamburg’s summer sky. The garland’s inherent cheerfulness is rather reduced to a black and white absurdity. A look through the dark tinted windows is like that onto a biotope. Leaves in the same style as the moths are hung to clotheslines that cross the rear end of the car. I accept the invitation and take a seat in the passenger’s seat next to additional fake greenery. Overpopulation by fragrance trees, tree-shaped air fresheners, I think to myself. Next to me is a small reader, a fanzine. On the cover, I read: ‘The Fragrance Tree’ and ‘feat. Olepa Schleini’ - aka the moth, as reading further would reveal – and ‘feat. Rizinus Communis’ – aka the leaf. Stephan Janitzky’s works are often accompanied by fanzines. From various perspectives and using sources with different statuses, his approach to a topic is to subjectively appropriate it. On the first page of ‘The Fragrance Tree’, a quote from the bible, Jonah 4, 5-11: 5 (…) Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. (…). Without revealing too much, I can tell you that this story ends badly…
I roll the fanzine’s few pages contemplatively and think back to my first and only car, to four square meters of shelter and independence.
alle Fotos: Pelle Buys
Kunstverein St. Pauli – Parkplatztreffen 3
fon: Tintin Patrone
Mit freundlicher Unterstützung der Behörde für Kultur und Medien Hamburg
26. August 2017, 16:00–20:00 Uhr
Parkhaus Bahnhof Altona »topfloor«
Scheel-Plessen-Str. 19, 22765 Hamburg