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Custom-made guides through the Art and Press exhibition

AS PART OF CREATIVE ARTS, I took the students to Art and Press at Martin Gropius Bau, an exhibition about several artists’ relationship to the media. The class is focused on new media and impermanent art works like performance, internet art, and digital-based works, so I thought it could be nice to see how artists were doing the opposite: taking throwaway newspapers and making them into permanent objects.

After observing a group of über-bored Germans on the free exhibition tour, I wanted to provide a guideline while the students discovered the works on their own. For their final project, they are making an audio guide to the Berlin Biennale, one of the city’s largest exhibitions. To help them on their way, I custom-made an audio guide podcast complete with some of the stories and anecdotes I knew about the artists and their works.

Saskia–our guest last week and a local curator–and I sat down and wrote a script. I thought it might be useful to hear some professionals as inspiration for their own guide, so I turned to two actors to record the audio guides: Patrick Heusinger and Anna Rose Hopkins. Patrick has been on shows like Gossip Girl, 30 Rock, Royal Pains, The Good Wife, and will star in his very own show on NBC this fall. Anna has been in Law and Order, CSI, Veronica Mars, and more theatre than you could pack into a NY weekend. In short, they were brilliant, and we were lucky to have such access to their talent.

Launch the Guide Now

(Best viewed on a Smartphone)

One of my favorite moments was watching tall Willem bound across the museum (much to the guards’ dismay but too fast to scold) to whisper:

Wait, they’re talking to us? They did this for us?

It was such a joy to watch them shuffle through the space, their voices silent but facial expressions loud. Megan walked in, took a deep breath, and tilted her head up towards the ceiling. Isaac took his time to find each work, exploring all the pieces. I walked over to a group of perplexed-looking guys and asked them what was up. “I don’t get it” they said guiltily. “Me neither,” I replied, “It’s ok to hate some of the art.”

It’s true. Sometimes there is great art, and sometimes there is bad art. As the troops congregated at the exit and shared their experiences—the works they loved and loved to hate—I got more and more excited about hearing what they’ll have to say in their own podcasts.

Speaking with Jawed after class, I asked him what stuck out the most. He told me:

I didn’t like the idea that he had put holy names on the ground because that could be a huge disrespect to the people who believe in a certain religion.

Suddenly, I was reminded of how happy I am to be with TGS. Many people who work in art forget about the people who have to walk on it. I’m looking forward to reminding them.

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