A highlight in the current exhibition is Pak Sheung Chuen’s multi-part photo installation Waiting for a Friend (without Appointment), which he created between 2006-2014. The beautifully arranged images document city life in Hong Kong. On closer inspection, Chuen reveals that his photographs of five identical tower blocks were taken to show the lights gradually diminishing, as he stood ‘waiting there, until all the people slept’. The artist also loitered at an airport (amongst other locations) to see if anyone he knew would appear. When waiting in an arcade, at 16:38 a friend did arrive and asked Chuen why he was there, to which he replied ‘…I’ve been expecting you here for a long time!’ The composition is delicate and the content is subtle as Cheun humorously explores the meaningless nature of time.
Another powerful installation in the collection is Xu Zhen’s 2011 piece, Physique of Consciousness Museum. Mounted on the wall is a black and white photograph of the artist in more than 200 bodily positions, reminiscent of Muybridge’s movement studies. According to Zhen, the moves are ‘inspired from a hundred ceremonies, worships and traditions accumulated through the history of humanity’. The artist documents his research in a glass case that contains cutouts of the ancient statues and images that inspired his body contortions. The centrepiece of his installation is an exercise-style video where Zhen performs these shapes against a lurid, sky coloured background. Two yoga mats are placed in front of the tape and viewers are encouraged to follow along with Zhen’s positions- adding a playful element to his historically rich piece. The three components are powerful artworks in themselves but arranged together, they demonstrate the artist’s ability to bridge ancient and modern movements in aesthetically pleasing forms.
A more classic but no less vital artist in the exhibition is Sibylla Dumke. Her ‘rhythmic’ and ‘intuitive’ patterned ink painting reflects the ‘structures of nature’ while paying homage to Chinese calligraphy. Dumke’s painting is enhanced by her 2013 sculpture of a stick sanded smooth and coated in the same ink that she paints with. Placed side-by-side, Dumke’s process and product are intertwined, as her ink tool becomes an artwork in itself. Dumke’s work is archetypical of the entire collection; the innovative arrangements and medley of mediums see the various artists’ work acknowledge the heritage of Chinese culture while bringing it into the modern age.
From a Poem to the Sunset maintains all that the Daimler Art Collection represents: the exhibition is fun, relevant and beautifully curated. The gallery offers a varied display of artists from key 20th-century movements and every exhibition has an incredible host of related events. But best of all, the Daimler Art Collection is one of the few free galleries around the city, making it the best kept secret in the Berlin contemporary art scene.
By Helena Geilinger