Dominik Lang- Haus der Wohnirrtümer- Tschechisches Zentrum Berlin
„Where is the art, I see only rubbish”, proclaimed one of the visitors on the opening of Czech artist Dominik Lang’s (1980) exhibition Haus der Wohnirrtümer in the Tschechisches Zentrum Berlin (TBZ). The people around him murmured uncomfortably that he stood in the middle of it, that this was the exhibition.
It reminded me of the sticker “Is it art, or can I throw it away”, which I saw for the first time on a wall in an experimental art fair in the Netherlands in 2011. It seems to have come from a real statement made by a janitor in an art academy, who got (probably rightly so) frustrated doing his job.
If the before mentioned visitor meant it or was just fooling around doesn’t really matter, because he nailed the exhibition theme. He exactly pointed out what it is about.
ExpectationsHaus der Wohnirrtümer is about searching, going around corners and never find what you expect. What at first sight looks like a huge column (spoiler alert!), turns out to be half open on the other side, making it something in between a sculptural object and an architectural setting.
The walls are not real either, you can crawl behind them. They lead to a dead end on one side and on the other to a little bedroom. Although it is hidden from the inside of the gallery, it is totally visible from the outside.
You are standing now in the window display of the TBZ, which is furnished with original objects from the seventies. They are part of the design for the whole embassy, made by the Czech architect couple Věra und Vladimír Machonin. The building is still mostly in its original style, with a lot of wood and bright colors (this is, apart from the exhibition, the second reason why you should definitely go).
The whole exhibition is about expecting to see something. And what that ‘something’ is, totally up to you. Because you see the backs of the supported walls, you’re first reaction is to walk around them to see what’s there. A display of some sort is anticipated.
It is interesting to realize what your reaction is. Are you surprised, disappointed, confused? In this case the real question is: Are you ready to be confronted by your own expectations? I guess the angry visitor was not.
Very contemporaryWhat is important to realize, is that you are walking not only in an exhibition but in an art installation. It is not an exhibition where different kind of objects are put together in a room. Here, the artist takes on the role of the curator. He decides the total atmosphere of the room, which is a very contemporary thing to do.
In that sense, the remark from the angry visitor, would have been great as a line in a performance. With his words, he could have activated the installation as well as the viewer. The gallery space would become a stage with a decor and in doing so even more “genres”(which of course is a term that doesn’t make sense anymore) would be thrown in the mix. Again, very contemporary!