Saatchi Gallery. Gesamtkunstwerk: New Art from Germany.
‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ is a German word that describes a synthesis of various art forms to create an ‘ultimate’ work of art. Concerned with the visual arts, the ‘New Art from Germany’ exhibition attempts to fuse the work of 24 contemporary German artists to create an ‘ultimate’ exhibition. The Saatchi Gallery however, fails to achieve this. With nationality as such a broad parameter, the gallery does not identify Germany’s greatest artists, but offers a rather eclectic mix. A disparity in talent is apparent when travelling from room to room; the more successful artists only served to highlight the failings of others. Ida Eckblad is one of the more successful artists. Appropriating objects such as industrial waste metal obtained on walks around the city, Eckblad would then translate these objects into playful sculptures or cast them into concrete. What is most notable about Eckblad is that when tackling a conceptual issue such as commercial waste, she never forgets to create inventive, striking forms. A neighbouring artist, Isa Genzken, seemingly overcomplicates her sculptures and loses her voice. Bouquet is a plinth adorned with tinsel, toys, and faux flowers. Rather than signalling a clear message, the work is over-executed and messy. It is with the more simplified and uncomplex pieces that the exhibition is most successful. A further triumph can be seen in Jeppe Hein’s Mirror Wall. What appears to be a standard mirror begins to vibrate when a viewer reaches a predetermined proximity, at which point it reflects an unnerving image of the viewer. Not just a gimmick, Hein uses this device to address issues of self-identity and intimate social unease. Ultimately ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ offers both highs and lows; although not a cohesive exhibition, it is one that gives the viewer much to consider. Not all artworks will matter, but enough options are given so that a visitor can feel satisfied.