Nadia Kaabi-Linke doesn’t like standing up hero statues and pedestals. Erect monuments that drive you to see them, she says. Her personal artworks – equivalent to a ground work within the pavement of Neukölln – are the other of this. Hardly any coloration, a number of mild and shadow, restrained and but extremely exact. Typically harmful too. Just like the bench, the seat of which is studded with barbed pigeon wire, stopping anybody from getting snug on it.
In her new Berlin exhibition “Seeing with out mild” this bench is current twice, as soon as within the exhibition room of the Hamburger Bahnhof and a second time within the outside space behind the museum. The outdated tracks there as soon as led to the Moabit freight depot, from which tens of 1000’s of Jews had been transported to the extermination camps within the east. The practice station bench, reworked right into a instrument of torture, is a logo of uncomfortable truths.
Kaabi-Linke’s artwork is commonly about previous violence that’s nonetheless operative at present. Politically, socially, personally. For instance in a piece from 2012: Kaabi-Linke met with girls who had been subjected to home violence and had imprints of their scars and injured pores and skin engraved on glass plates. Brilliant, wafer-thin, barely seen traces. What must be hidden in on a regular basis life involves mild, however isn’t brutally dragged there.
This sensitivity is inherent in all of Kaabi-Linke’s works. What you don’t see, however you may know: she discovered the tortured girls in London, in the midst of a progressive fashionable society. In her work, she doesn’t make this element seen, which is necessary so as to not cater to stereotypes. Nevertheless, the angle behind it will likely be conveyed on a delicate, energetic degree. Kaabi-Linke is satisfied of that. Sam Bardaouil, director of the Hamburger Bahnhof, describes her work as “advanced in the very best sense of the phrase”.
The exhibition on the Hamburger Bahnhof has an extended historical past that started in Ukraine in 2018. Two of the primary works relate to the nation at battle. Kaabi-Linke, born in 1978, has a Tunisian father and a Ukrainian mom. She grew up in Tunis, moved to the United Arab Emirates together with her household as a youngster, studied in Paris and has lived in Berlin since 2006. All of those properties have formed her and affect her work, which, along with the creative facet, has a forensic, archaeological facet.
Kaabi-Linke has handled the “Spezfond”, a secret assortment of the Ukrainian Nationwide Museum. It contains work by Ukrainian artists from the Twenties and 30s that had been confiscated and censored by the Soviet central authorities in Moscow. The plan was to destroy the works that had been unwelcome for varied political causes. This was thwarted by the invasion of the German Wehrmacht.
The photographs ended up in Prague, then in Moscow, some later returned to Kiev, the place they had been partially restored within the Nationwide Museum. “The invaders saved the artwork from destruction,” says Kaabi-Linke. Historical past hits such a snag. That’s what her artwork is about. And about supposed historic truths that, from their standpoint, don’t exist.
Quite a few artists from Ukraine and different Soviet states had been known as “Russian avant-garde”. Kazimir Malevich is likely one of the most well-known names. Initially born in Kiev, he was identified to the world as a Russian painter. Even then, the imperial energy Russia was attempting to disclaim Ukraine’s cultural independence, says Kaabi-Linke. A legacy that’s nonetheless efficient at present and serves as a legitimation for annexation, invasion and battle. “Many consider that in Germany, too,” says Kaabi-Linke. Similar to the story that the majority Ukrainians had been collaborators with the Germans in World Conflict II and had been subsequently fascists.
The hidden and the seen
Kaabi-Linke labored with these photos from the Spezfond bundle that had been badly scratched, poured with liquid and painted over. She photographed some and transferred their floor construction to black composite panels. This ends in black rectangles with raised tracks. Truly, these Malevich references must be exhibited in Kiev within the Nationwide Museum, alongside the originals. The hidden and the seen facet by facet. First it was not attainable due to Covid, then got here the battle.
For Berlin, Kaabi-Linke has assorted the concept. She didn’t wish to present the originals right here. As an alternative, she painted white rectangles subsequent to the black photos. voids. A reference to the violent historical past floating round between Ukraine, Russia and Germany.
seeing with the guts
“Blind present”, as she calls the set up, has once more develop into very quiet work. The black photos are like time capsules. You’ll be able to contact them along with your fingers. Visually impaired and blind folks, who Kaabi-Linke makes use of as mediators, inform what the story is about. What must be impressed by this encounter isn’t a lot touching with the fingers – however seeing with the guts.
“We see it as our obligation as a museum to supply area for hidden historical past,” says Sam Bardaouil. He has identified Kaabi-Linke for a superb fifteen years and has proven her works in quite a few exhibitions throughout his time as a contract curator.
The Hamburger Bahnhof isn’t solely an alternate quarter for the Ukraine works, however provides virtually a small retrospective with works from 2008 to the current day. Many check with the seen wounds of Berlin. To the deportation of the Jews from the Moabit items depot, to the German-German Wall that ran alongside the door to the Hamburger Bahnhof, to bullet holes from the Second World Conflict on home partitions and gravestones.
Kaabi-Linke says she’s impressed by the calm, non secular vibes of cemeteries. Many concepts got here to her on the cemetery on Bergmannstraße, which she typically visits. The connection between the residing and the useless performs an necessary position within the second Ukraine work within the exhibition.
For the video set up “Bud’mo” she shot in western Ukraine in two forests that stand for the crimes of the Germans and the Soviets throughout the Second World Conflict, with many murdered folks beneath the bushes. Nevertheless, the artist didn’t movie the earth, however the sky with the towering branches of the bushes, which she then in flip initiatives onto the earth. A change of perspective that makes you dizzy and briefly robs you of your bearings. An exquisite approach to specific the simultaneity of mourning and future, life and dying.