As the second to last part of their exhibition series Speaking to Ancestors, Keumhwa Kim and Pauline Doutreluingne introduce two Berlin-based artists*: Viron Erol Vert and Mariechen Danz present expansive, site-specific installations in the Kleiner and Großer Wasserspeicher in Prenzlauer Berg, in which sound, video, projection and sculpture melt together. Inspired by mythological narratives and contemporary rituals, the focus is on the relationship of the human body to cult and knowledge.
The artists combine journeys into the ancient underworld with today‘s club culture, and invite us into the world of technocratic and astrological sign systems. What they have in common is the understanding of human beings as complex, transcending beings.
Opening: 11 November 2023, 7:00 pm
with live set by Headless Horseman
Exhibition duration: 12 - 20 November 2023
Opening hours: 12:00 - 19:00 (daily)
Venue: Kleiner & Großer Wasserspeicher
Belforter Straße, 10405 Berlin
In his work, the German-Turkish-Greek artist Viron Erol Vert (*1975) investigates religious systems and cultural identities. He addresses the reciprocal relationships between inner spiritual spaces on the one hand and spaces constructed by societies on the other. In ancient places of worship, he finds references to mankinds early longings for transcendence and a supersensory connection to gods and ancestors, which retains its relevance today.
Vert transforms the Grosser Wasserspeicher with its circling corridors and barrel vault into a performative transcendence space. The exhibition Club Telesterion is his adaptation of the ancient cult of the Eleusinian Mysteries into contemporary club culture, in which he himself has been working for 25 years. The Telesterion was a hall in the city of Eleusis where the cult of Demeter and Persephone took place for over 2000 years. Created around 1400 BC, the Sacred Way to the Greek city attracted thousands of people from all over the ancient world to performatively indulge in the idea of rebirth. Just as Persephone descends and returns to the land of the dead every year, it enabled people to experience other planes of existence and to live again/differently/newly.
Vert sees the parallels to club culture in the temporary immersion in another world where one can let go, lose oneself and open up to multiple identities and meanings of life.
The artist expansively spans an arc of light on which pieces of clothing from the Berghain Club’s collection are hung close together. The garments he has collected over the course of a year are human shells of the bodies that wore them. On the labyrinthine paths there, along the first rotunda of the former water reservoir, the visitors* encounter nine media installations in opened suitcases, showing celebrating groups of people of various religious, ethnic and cultural affiliations. Together with images of symbols and landscape fragments, they merge into a whole.
The videos were created in collaboration with Ali M. Demirel, a Berlin-based Turkish artist whose work is rooted in architecture, science and nature. The accompanying sound installation in the space was composed in collaboration with Berlin-based producer Headless Horseman. He combines his otherwise experimental and intense techno sets with sound spheres that invite you to lose yourself in the labyrinthine spaces.
A live performance will take place on the opening evening.
Viron Erol Vert's installation communicates with the water reservoir, which has its own sometimes dramatic history and becomes the architectural form, support and outer body of the installation. Berlin's first public waterworks was built between 1852 and 1856. After 1914, the plant became uneconomical for the rapidly growing city and was shut down. In the spring of 1933, after the Nazis came to power, the basement rooms of the waterworks were used by the SA as a savage concentration camp, where people were interned and murdered without trial. From June 1933, the camp was transformed into the SA-Heim Wasserturm. In the autumn of 1934, the SA-Heim was disbanded and work began on transforming the site into a public park. Since then, the underground water reservoirs in Prenzlauer Berg have been empty and no longer used. In 1994, the Kulturamt Pankow and the Förderband Kulturinitiative e.V. joined forces to organise cultural events in the underground reservoirs. The spatial quality of the large water reservoir lies in the circular juxtaposition of rings with idiosyncratic acoustics.
Cover: Club Telesterion: Chapter 1 (videostill), 2023.
fig. 1: Viron Erol Vert, CLUB TELESTERION (3D simulation by Paul Springfeld), 2023.