Monday, August 20, 2007



IN 2004 the glass door to this new gallery was decorated with a big hand-painted question mark, as if asking: what does it all mean? Today, not quite three years later, the young Italian Isabella Bortolozzi has established her gallery not only as one to look out for in Berlin, but as a place where questions are asked rather than answers found or things resolved. A potent indicator of which was choosing legendary Slovak artist and self-proclaimed UFOnaut Julius Koller for the opening exhibition – the question mark could be the logo of a gallery prone to taking a refreshingly radical stance.

Next door to blue-chip gallery Johnen’s new Berlin branch, providing top-scale artists such as Anri Sala, Jeff Wall or Thomas Ruff with a change of home, Isabella Bortolozzi has been carving out her own terrain far from the madding crowd of mainstream, high-performance export articles like German painting, and has developed into one of the most hip galleries in the city. Now that young Berlin galleries are once again sending impulses around the globe, with painting the number one export, this is saying a lot.

Without a single German artist on board, it’s clear that this gallery owner was not born to follow. While other promising young directors such as Sassa Trülzsch and Mickey Schubert, to mention just a few in an ever-expanding art megalopolis, have taken on the potentially glorious task of representing the best of a new home-grown generation, Bortolozzi has tuned her radar to a wider pitch. Following international discourses closely, she has assembled an artistic programme that combines a unique conceptual edge with an unfinished, decidedly risqué attitude, as revealed in the sound works of Susan Phillipsz, the performances of Yorgos Sapountzis or the complex sculptures of Leonor Antunes.

It was undoubtedly a coup to secure the first European solo presentation for young American hotshot Seth Price. But it may be the current show by Danh Vo that gets the point across best, with a presentation of objects belonging to ‘Joe’, a talented amateur photographer with a soft spot for Asian men who portrays everyday life in pre-war Vietnam. In an installation that draws the viewer into the slippery terrain of personal desire, excerpts from Joe’s diaries reveal a taste for the exotic erotic. The role of the author and the power of the gaze, cultural identity and personal autobiography are all combined here in close relation, offering no easy way out.



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