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Fabulous, Diverse Art Curators at Falling Fictions

The curators Amy E. Brown,  Alejandro Alonso Diaz and Rosie Snaith in their exhibition Falling Fictions  at me Collectors Room Berlin . 

The up and coming art curators who designed the current show, ‘Falling Fictions,’ at the me Collectors Room were able to multitask superbly. From choosing a theme about which they knew very little to commissioning a text about such show, to organizing the art in a way that transformed pieces that could seem mundane into symbols of life and imagination, to each of them composing a short but creative essay on the exhibition. They infused the works from the Olbricht Collection with a life perhaps not before recognized. These three talented students, who are just completing their Masters in Art Curating, designed a show that oozes creativity and storytelling. In this spacious but small exhibit, viewers can expand their consciousness, connecting to themselves with guidance from the show.

Art curators are the hidden superheroes of the art world. We all know the artists, perhaps have heard of the wealthy collectors, and of course know of the exquisite spaces that are the museums, but who organizes the show? Who creates the flow of an exhibition? Unless you are a member of the art world or educated in it, it is possible to coast through a museum, floating on the dreams that are conjured by the art being shown, never having an inkling about who it was that brought this show to you, who organized it, who is that person who is subtly directing the course of your dreams?

The me Collectors Room in Berlin Mitte, together with the Olbricht Foundation and in collaboration with the Metropolitan University and the Whitechapel Gallery, supports students who are at the close of their Masters degrees in Art Curating by inviting them to curate a show as part of their final project. This is the fourth time the Olbricht Foundation has supported young curators in such an endeavor. ‘Falling Fictions’ opened on 16 September and will run through to the 15 November.

This year there were three students chosen to collaborate: Rosie Snaith, Alejandro Alonso Diaz and Amy E. Brown. They chose the theme of Metafiction to apply to the show. The guest curators have been travelling between London and Berlin for the past year designing the show. They were chosen from their class, Curating the Contemporary, to design this year. The show was imagined by the three curators before they were allowed to see the art provided by the Olbricht Foundation. By exploring their own interests, they worked on a theme, and after a few months, came to Berlin, viewed the collection and completed their concept for the show. They commissioned a text from artist and writer Francesco Pedraglio in order to give a loose story to the exhibition. Around the theme of metafiction, the students sought to unite a blend of fact and fiction in a presentation that blurs the lines between invented story and reality.

Francesco Pedraglio, 13 Heavens and 9 Underworlds, 2015 © Courtesy of the artist.

Francesco specializes in writing stories based on rumors he has heard. Since the three curators were, at the time, working with limited information on the art for which they were to design an exhibition, they chose Francesco because of his writing style since they were able to provide Francesco with only a small amount of information. At the time he was in Mexico, and so incorporated a Mexican myth of the cosmos that says it has 13 heavens and nine underworlds into the commissioned text. He imagined an object falling through time, or through the gallery space, through the heavens and underworlds, until it finally comes to rest on the earth, or the gallery floor. The resulting text is called The Voice of the Room; it gives the gallery a voice and creates a narrative told by the room and the art within it. The text is available at the exhibition.

Armed with the story by Francesco, the Mexican myth of the cosmos and their imagination, the curators prepared to create the exhibition. When they finally came to Berlin, they were able to select the pieces from the Olbricht Collection and arranged them accordingly. The show guides spectators through their own creations of the cosmos, and what it means to descend through the layers of existence. It is a masterful blend of creative guidance, allowing viewers to imagine their own experience in the context of the show.

The text describes a violent descent through the heavens. The gallery is transformed from a static space into a whirling universe; at the moment that it should be peaceful is when it becomes the most violent. There are themes of humor and sex interwoven throughout. Included is a box that contained the information for Francesco sent by the curators, however, ironically, the box was lost in the mail, and hence never arrived to Francesco, and after three months, was delivered back to Rosie Snaith. It is a manifestation of reality in the midst of fiction; not all stories end as we expect. Cigarette butts refer to the middle point of the heavens and similar to the sculpture of people half-submerged in earth, which is actually chocolate; these serve as the ground level. Children are shown through a cemetery in the piece Death and the Children; the viewer is drawn violently to the earth.

Slawomir Elsner, Hochzeitsfoto (I  VII), 2002 © Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Gebr Lehmann, Dresden, Berlin; Photo Achim Kukulies, Düsseldorf

The show teeters along the line between reality and fiction. It demands concentration from the viewer in order to understand the theme without which it would appear to be simply a random collection of bizarre art. With careful study however, one discovers that, just like life, we are making our own stories; combinations of reality and the tales constructed in our heads. At the end of the show is a collection of photographs that seem to be mundane family pictures. One could wonder why these photos are displayed. However, upon closer inspection, one realizes that each of the photographs is comprised of the same people, clothed in different costumes therefore filling different familial positions. Reality tilts as the borders of veracity blur.

Falling Fictions, 16 September- 15 November 2015
me Collectors Room Berlin
Auguststrasse 68, 10117 Berlin
Opening hours: Tues-Sun 12-18:00

By Sasha Prince
Sasha is a classical singer and animal lover and has been in Berlin since 2014. She is from the US and the place she lived the longest is Austin, Texas.

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