After being asked to write this list it slowly started to dawn on me none of the films I enjoyed this year were released in 2013 and the two books I most wanted to recommend – Oxana Timofeeva’s History of Animals: An Essay on Negativity, Immanence and Freedom (Jan van Eyck Academie) and Hito Steyerl’s The Wretched of the Screen (Sternberg Press) – both turned out to have been published in 2012. So there, I just smuggled them in anyway, but promise I will stick to the rules from now on …
I have been following the programme of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin with great interest, especially the projects ‘Former West’ (2008–14) and ‘After Year Zero’ (2013). But if I have to single out one exhibition however I would pick ‘The Whole Earth’, curated by Diedrich Diederichsen and Anselm Franke in the Summer – an amazing treasure trove of historical idiosyncrasies.
Another important show was ‘TEXTILES: OPEN LETTER’ curated by Rike Frank and Grant Watson for the Museum Abteiberg – a very well thought-out exhibition, which explores the often unacknowledged role textiles played in the development of visual abstraction and serial composition – from modernism to contemporary art.
In the absence of a new season of Game of Thrones, and after I lost my local video rental store to Prenzlauerberg gentrification, I’ve taken to following Vdrome, an online platform curated by Edoardo Bonaspetti, Jens Hoffmann, Andrea Lissoni and Filipa Ramos. Every film is introduced with a short q&a and stays online for a brief period only –an exhibition format that meets the distribution potential of digital video without compromising the artists’ income. Yes I know what you are probably thinking, but I am not a hi-res fetishist, and the project allowed me to discover the work of Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc and Marcus Coates, which I probably wouldn’t have came across otherwise.
From the viewpoint of the visitor, biennials might always prove a somewhat frustrating experience. Yet, as the Bergen Assembly 2013 – ‘Monday Begins on Saturday’ curated by Ekaterina Degot and David Riff – made manifest, biennials also allow for alternative discourse networks to emerge, else all you have left is market consensus.
It might seem odd to recommend Leonor Antunes’ ‘a linha é tão fina que o olho, apesar de armado com uma lupa, imagina-a ao invés de vê-la’ at the Kunsthalle Lissabon when the artist had a much more substantial exhibition at the Kunsthalle Basel this autumn, but I simply didn’t see the latter –and the Kunsthalle Lissabon is in my hometown.
Painting might endure forever but Jutta Koether’s cycle of shows at Praxes is the only painting exhibition I want to see now. I was also fond of Aleksandra Domanovic’s ‘The Future Was at Her Fingertips’ at Tanya Leighton – her take on how history slipped between her fingers; and Karl Holmqvist’s double exhibition ‘EQ UI LI BR IU M’ at Galerie Neu and MD72 for his doctrine of word egalitarianism; Anna Boghiguian’s ‘Unstructured Diary for an Autobiography’ at the Daad Galerie; and Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazzarato’s ‘The Life Of Particles’, at the Berlinale’s Forum Expanded about the unfathomable relation between psychology and geography.
In terms of books, Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns the Future (Simon & Schuster) was the first sensible account I read about what the internet really means to the world’s economy. Similarly, I am indebted to Martha Rosler’s Culture Class (Sternberg Press) for pointing out how the history of abstract expressionism is intertwined with the history of transnational capital flows. Last but not least, I just began reading T. J. Demos’ The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary during Global Crisis, published by Duke University Press.
Ana Teixeira Pinto is a writer from Lisbon who lives in Berlin. She is currently finishing her PhD at Humboldt University, and is a regular contributor to frieze d/e, Art Agenda and Mousse, among other publications.