True North, a group exhibition featuring Art21 Season 3 artist Roni Horn, closes this Sunday at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. The exhibition includes work by seven contemporary artists, “whose photographic or video-based projects evoke the tradition of Northern Romantic landscape painting as well as its legacy in later nineteenth-century photography.” Despite allusions to formal antecedents, the general tone of the exhibition undermines any romantic idealism associated with the notion of the “North.” Rather, the viewer is confronted with modernity’s attempts, however futile, to “colonize or commune with” this unforgiving and utterly unapologetic climate.
Horn‚Äôs installation consists of a photographic series hung conspicuously above eye-level, creating a horizon that effectively distances each image from the viewer’s comfortable gaze. As with her previous work, this series focuses on elements of Icelandic life, specifically unspectacular routines like daytime soap operas and the tides, which emphasize the melancholy that dominates both the island and this latitude in general.
True North closes at precisely the correct time, heralding the much anticipated onset of spring (assuming it ever arrives), as well as the beginning of the 5th Berlin Biennial, which officially opened to the public last Saturday. The bb5 brings an energy to the city’s cultural calendar that easily aligns itself with metaphors of spring rejuvenation. Curated by Adam Szymczyk and Elena Filipovic and entitled When things cast no shadow, the Biennial’s traditional day program is divided among three venues: the Schinkel Pavillon, Skulpturenpark and Kunst Werke. In addition, 63 “noctural events” are systematically being announced in conjunction with the Biennial’s evening program, My nights are more beautiful than your days, finally giving Berliners a legitimate reason to cease with hibernation and brave the less-than-beautiful April weather. The 5th Berlin Biennial runs through June 15th.