press release

New York (November 17, 2007) – Perry Rubenstein Gallery presents BERLIN NOIR a multimedia group exhibition of nine artists, in various stages of their careers, currently living and working in Berlin. Curated by Felix Ensslin, the exhibition positions artists whose work is vastly different yet each is tied together by a common interest in the contemporary view of Berlin as a haven for cultural and artistic revolution. In a text about the exhibition Ensslin writes:

Noir. In film it is less a genre, more a mood. While there are typical characters – femme fatale or the detective – they are not what is the essence of Noir. Rather, it is a stubborn refusal to totally relinquish the difference between black and white, precisely in the face of the impossibility to clearly separate the two. In Noir there is no redemption in the moralist sense of the word. Yet, there is also no trace of vulgar materialism, no sophisticated knowledge that the little pleasures of this life, power and fame and money, is all there is. Rather, Noir always stumbles. It stumbles over the scene of a crime. Over the insistence of a passion for life – or simply for passion itself. It stumbles over a return of something everyone wanted to forget. This makes Berlin a place where Noir is peculiarly contemporary. Just walking down any street will confront you with remains of a history that is dense, violent and always present. No fantasy of restitution or repair or forgetting will succeed here: though many in and outside of Berlin try.

Noir is a mood, but it is also a form of knowledge. Noir knows that you cannot simply clean the slate. While it always starts again and again, even – especially – because it knows it will end and end badly. The exhibition BERLIN NOIR investigates this stumbling and this knowledge with nine artists that work and live in Berlin. Some are very young and their works have hardly been shown. Some have had international careers for decades. All are united, as different as they are, as incompatible as they otherwise may be, by somehow being open to Berlin as a place of traces, of memories and their constructions. Thus, it is no accident that the architectonic and its transformation into the graphic play a central part in many ways. BERLIN NOIR looks at what one stumbles over, what is built from remainders or what insists as leftover or trace. And it looks at art itself as a trace, as writing, as being graphic. Thus, while maybe surprising, it is not accidental that prints and etchings appear alongside watercolor, photography and film as well as sculpture of architectonic forms. The art of BERLIN NOIR engages something, that, to quote Jacques Lacan, will "not stop not writing itself."

Felix Ensslin is a writer, director, teacher and curator. Most recently he has curated "Between Two Deaths" (with Ellen Blumenstein) at ZKM – Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany and "Regarding Terror- The RAF exhibition" (with Klaus Biesenbach and Ellen Blumenstein at KW- Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin.) Recent publications include: Between Two Deaths: From the Mirror to Repetition, Felix Ensslin and Ellen Blumenstein, ed.; Hatje Cantz, Berlin Stuttgart, 2007; Between Metonymy and Metaphor: On Iterability in Anna Oppermann's Work, Anna Oppermann, Ensembles 1968-1992, Hatje Cantz, Berlin Stuttgart, 2007, Powered by Emotion?" A Roundtable Talk about Romanticism, Art and Melancholy with Felix Ensslin, Jörg Heiser, Juliane Rebentisch, Andre Rottmann and Jan Verwoert, Texte zur Kunst, Num. 65, March 2007

Kurator: Felix Ensslin

mit Armin Boehm, Elin Hansdottir, Christoph Krönke, Ulrike Ottinger, Christian Pilz, Reynold Reynolds, Dennis Rudolph, Sophie-Therese Trenka-Dalton, Michael Wutz