Christian Haake

Memory and imagination are the themes of Christian Haake’s (born 1969 in Bremerhaven, Federal Republic of Germany) sculptural work. He has, among other things, constructed display cases and windows, made new paper from old newspapers, and reduced letters to their basic contours. His frame of reference is the external objective world, or rather its traces, both physically and as reminiscence. Haake creates forms that are empty and full at the same time. In viewing his work, one is often confronted with plain surfaces and open spaces; however, his objects and installations are rarely truly empty. The white tiled surfaces of his wall sculptures reveal traces of their production and their transience; the works that create and occupy space do so with reference to their architectural-social environment. They have a past, even if it is undefined. Their present is precarious, their future only vague. Christian Haake’s works are full of references to everyday moments and to history. This forces viewers to make associations, leading them into uncertainty. Hints of some kind of reality are ever-present. One tries to pinpoint them – yet it seems to be in vain. Christian Haake lives and works in Bremen.

Works

Peter Friese
Nachbilder | Afterimages
Thoughts on a Spatial Installation by Christian Haake

Published in: Christian Haake, Kunstverein Ruhr, Essen 2013

Christian Haake designed a special choreography for the exhibition space of the Kunstverein Ruhr at Kopstadtplatz in Essen in which four elements manifestly correspond with one another and consolidate to become a spatial installation. The intervention in the space’s archi- tecture becomes evident at first glance: the two pillars at the right be- came the framing elements of a kind of “urban furniture” familiar to us from the 1950s and 1960s. It is an outdoor display case much like those that were part of the streetscape of Kurfürstendamm in Berlin or Königsallee in Düsseldorf during the German Wirtschaftswunder: these presentations of consumer products, ostentatiously moved out- side, were meant to arrest the attention of flâneurs and pedestrians and seduce them into buying. The display cases were filled with luxury goods, shoes, handbags, and other accessories—further facilitating consumption in the respective shopping street. However, their presen- tation was not only practical outdoor advertising for certain wares, it was also a symbolic act. For after World War II, what was on display here also documented a new attitude toward life in the West that was capable of emblematically radiating out eastwards, especially in Berlin: the expression of the newly acquired or recovered power of the Western capitalistic system. Signs of affluence, wealth, and purchasing power that apparently never wanted to ebb. However, what was once meant to actually – and symbolically – contribute to the prosperity of our 

cities can change to the contrary and become a brutal indication of its inhospitality if there is a lack of financial means, a reluctance to make purchases, when stores go out of business, or if there are high vacancy rates. And it is just such an empty, somewhat neglected display case that appears before our eyes as soon as we enter the exhibition space.

Construction of Memories. Christian Haake’s distinct approach does not consist in directly borrowing such a display case from the street in the sense of a ready-made or a factum brutum and more or less provocatively placing it in the space, but in accurately constructing it out of wood and glass from memory, without the aid of measure- ments, photographs, or drawings. In other words: with its diagonal edges, so typical for the years of affluence and progress (see, for in- stance, the Grugahalle as landmark of the “shopping city” of Essen), the glazed structure being presented in the exhibition was not com- pleted until 2012. Thus, all of the details of this piece of urban furni- ture were not reproduced based on an original but reconstructed from memory, which is characteristic of Haake’s method. Even the visible traces of use, a certain patina, and the signs of decay and neglect are part of the artist’s detailed and calculated approach. Yet the apparent- ly used material of the floor of this display case, consisting of several plywood panels, actually stems from a dismantled display window in Bremen and exhibits real traces of use whose history mentally leads back to something that is addressed here in its complex entirety. While Haake did not necessarily intend for this transparent chest to be remi- niscent at times of a glass sarcophagus, it is nevertheless an accesso- ry phenomenon he accepts: it is the indication of the work’s openness to different assignments of meaning and associations.

Models of Reality. In this way, Christian Haake performs a special kind of memory work: his works evoke images in us that have been stored away in our collective memory over the course of time and ultimately enable them to take concrete shape before our very eyes. However, the fact that Haake sees his works not as exact equivalents but as models of a complex and multidimensional reality is accounted for by the fact that at second glance, they can be understood as present-day constructions. And the fact that in our case it is not the faithful copy of an existing outdoor display 

case but a very precise reproduction from the here and now confirms, in the eyes of the beholder, the consensual certainty that such a display case could have looked like, or at least very similar to, one stemming from the period of the economic miracle half a century ago. In this respect, the reconstruction of a memory represents a more precise equivalent to what is contained in our collective memory, an accurate documentation with the aid of external images. Yet the fact that the large receptacle is empty, that is demonstrates nothing more than its somewhat dusty lack of content and dysfunctionality, virtually throws it open to mental opera- tions and being charged with content by the viewer,1 which naturally also includes first- or second-hand memories of the 1950s and 1960s and of the so-called Wirtschaftswunder.2

The Present. Viewed in this light, remembering is not merely the recapi- tulation of actual events from the past, but rather the highly contempo- raneous activation of internal images and ideas that we carry in us today from this past. Thus, it is less a matter of meticulously reconstructing actual former circumstances or past occurrences, but always one of ac- tivating current levels of consciousness and issues in terms of the past. Because this is not readily available in the storehouse of our collective memory waiting to be retrieved 1:1, it inevitably always has to be recon- ceived and reformulated out of the here and now. However, what can be remembered is only that which is capable of corresponding with current issues, levels of consciousness, and cognitive goals. What happened, hap- pened—there can and may be no doubt about this. But the way we deal with the past, what share of what happened we consider to be important, necessary, indispensable, or in extreme cases even irrelevant, is solely de- pendent on the decision we make in the present in view of the past and of history.

Afterimages. When, in this sense, afterimages produced by an artist are not meant to be viewed as stipulations, confirmations, or protec- tion but rather as a critical inquiry into the past and thus also into the present, this naturally allocates the thoughtful viewer a specific role. Indeed, it is a question of aesthetic perception in which the given phenomena are not only registered in their complexity, inconsistency, or staged digressiveness, but in which the viewers themselves bear them 

in mind and observe, reflect, or occasionally revise their observations, impressions, feelings, and doubt in this act of perceiving. This also ap- plies for Christian Haake’s decision to call this exhibition Nachbilder (Afterimages). As is known, afterimages are visual manifestations that we are time and again in a position to experience. If you fix your gaze on a red dot for any length of time, for example, it appears before your eyes as a complementary afterimage – that is, as a green dot – as a result of the lingering stimulus to the sensory cells of our retina. This remarkable, quasi hallucinatory individual activity of the eye and our entire perceptual apparatus can, like a conceptual model, be transfer- red to memory processes: the past, which we recall either consciously or suddenly and involuntarily, usually emerges transformed and is no longer identical with the actual occurrence as such. Something from the present is added to the past; a form of rededication, supplementati- on, reformulation, or even inversion takes place. The term “afterima- ge,” which aptly refers to the impression of an intense sensation that is maintained even after the stimulus has been suspended, thus implies something that is added to the past in retrospect and that the origin of an afterimage is a posterior act, so to speak. Such an image develops as a reverberation, an echo, a complementary counteraction of our per- ceptual apparatus that is physiologically determined.

White Elephant. To the left of the display case, a video loop projected onto the wall relates an apparently endless journey through a shopping mall such as the ones we are familiar with in Düsseldorf, Oberhau- sen, and Mülheim, another one recently opening at Limbecker Platz in Essen. However, in contrast to these operational malls, this labyrinth of consumption appears to be disconcertingly empty and in a state of decay, and it lacks store displays or people. The laconic tracking shot, with its noisy soundtrack in the background, does not seem to want to come to an end. In the United States, these bankrupt and consequently abandoned shopping centers are referred to as “white elephants.” In this case as well, Christian Haake did not make his video in a real mall but in a two-by-four-meter model constructed specifically for this pur- pose and using a miniature camera. The accuracy of the shattered shop windows, missing tiles, and a scenario in which melancholy predomi- nates is striking. Yet even at third glance, the perplexingly “genuine” 

new construction of the abandoned mall confirms the assumption that what we are dealing with here is a symbolic production and not a “re- alistic documentation.” Christian Haake proves himself to be all the more an artist who is not concerned with precise depictions in terms of a misunderstood “realism,” but rather with a conceptional approach that is in a position to shape and change our perceptions.

It’s Like a Walk in Hopper. Yet one should take the time to reco- gnize and to acknowledge the video’s formal qualities, distribution of light, and its overall dramaturgy. In this respect, what is notable are the calm, smooth tracking shot and the associated lighting of the filmic ambience of what we now know to be a model. Haake’s distribution of light creates an atmosphere we often find in well-composed pain- tings. Diagonal strips of light organize the projection surface like two merging images. Some will feel reminded of the sophisticated light si- tuations in pictures by the American painter Edward Hopper.3

And some of the atmospheres in postwar American literature in which the protagonists linger in a state of meaningless rather than live are described in a way that could also find its equivalent both in Hopper’s paintings as well as in this video.4 What they all share is a contem- plative conviction borne by basic existential principles that is lent cre- dible expression. Haake shows us something that we believe to have seen before. Yet these memories prove to be constructed visions that cause us to become thoughtful and that pose riddles. Their references to the realities of our cities, to everyday consumption, turn them into melancholy commentaries on our present age that are however acutely pertinent to reality. Christian Haake furthermore developed a unique soundtrack for his video that initially sounds like equipment-related noise: each succession of cuts, often associated with a change in the direction of the camera, alters the pitch and volume of this constant tone. Here, Haake captured those moments from various (unidentified) film sequences in which no dialogue took place. This technique of em- ploying gaps and silence, which is used, for example, in action films, often serves to create tension. In this case, Haake is capable of setting both a monotonous as well as irritating counterpoint—off-camera, so to speak—to his tracking shot that in retrospect may be reminiscent of John Cage’s treatment and compositional analysis of silence.5 

Walter Benjamin Says Hello. With respect to both dealing with me- mories as well as understanding inner-city situations, the German phi- losopher, author, and art critic Walter Benjamin almost automatically adopts a special position. In his book The Arcades Project 6 he develops a method of viewing history in which big-city phenomena such as bou- levards, shop windows, street lighting, and the eponymous glass-cove- red arcades begin to play a particular role. For Benjamin, in metropo- lises such as Paris, London, Brussels, or Berlin, the flâneur—someone underway and without a specific goal within an urban environment— has stood for the archetypical city dweller since the 19th century. By stopping to look at shop window displays, exchanging glances with other passers-by, or sitting down in a café, together with like-minded idlers he assures himself of a certain attitude toward life. Benjamin calls the arcades “temples of commodity capital,” and the presentation of various articles that can be purchased in illuminated shop windows and display cases becomes their trademark and actual purpose. In addition, the steel constructions developed in the 19th century allow the extensive glazing and transparence of the respective architecture and lend these ambulatories a dual character. They are simultaneously inside and outside, street and building, and moving within them corre- sponds with a form of behavior in public urban space that remains va- lid to this day. Special credit belongs to Walter Benjamin for declaring the promenading and consuming that became features of a “structural transformation of the public sphere”7 in the 19th century as a model of the historical development of middle-class society, whose symptoms continue to be visible and perceptible. The unfinished Arcades Project can justifiably be understood as the “prehistory of modernity,” an unu- sual and still applicable parable capable of developing a perspective for the present and the future based on urban development of the 19th century and which stands at a clear distance from methods of a con- ventional interpretation of history.

Melancholy.8 Christian Haake’s display case installation and his vi- deo White Elephant take the Benjaminian approach into account to the extent that they share several of basic features. It is not just a matter of listing obvious parallels in the ways they treat the theme of the big city but one of acknowledging that Haake has a basic melancholic tendency 

much like Benjamin’s. Indeed, when the latter speaks elsewhere of the “gaze of melancholy,” he is not alluding to a gaze that is clouded by a sad or depressive frame of mind. Quite the contrary is the case: he is making reference to a specific approach that proceeds in an extremely precise way and is in position to encourage connections and insights that elude a purely analytical gaze. In contrast to the pathological de- finition of the term “melancholy,” what Benjamin means by his con- cept is in fact a cognitive perspective capable of performing analyses and exercising criticism, and in the broadest sense sovereignly based in cultural and intellectual history. Thus, it is not first and foremost a matter of suffering from (supposedly unjust) conditions, but one of the most highly productive and multifaceted form of gaining insight and the associated differentiated criticism of the status quo.

Fool’s Gold. Hanging on the right wall of the space is what at first glance seems to be an odd and valuable rectangular picture that glit- ters like gold. What initially appear to be highly valuable small bars of bold prove, at second or third glance and above all taking the title into account, to be cheap but seductively glittering fool’s gold. Blister stands for that ubiquitous type of packaging used to seal products in plastic. As a matter of fact, Haake used a golden foil with a waffle pattern much like that used to line packages of thinly sliced smoked salmon. What is hanging before us is, if you will, a genuine ready-made whose veneer is accentuated in a particularly noble and seductive way by means of a ca- refully lasered matt. At second glance it becomes evident that with this element of the exhibition Haake succeeds in making a connection with the sphere of consumption already addressed in the display case and the video, being seduced by what was (once) the display of apparently precious goods, and the monetary economy implicitly symbolized by the gold.

Suprematism: Die Zeit. We see a vertical-format picture on the left wall of the space. At first sight it seems to be reminiscent of minima- listically austere and perhaps constructivist painting à la Joseph Albers, or even of Kazimir Malevich’s famous Black Square. The title of this work also supplies us with a hot lead: Zeitung/Die Zeit (Newspaper/ Die Zeit) actually refers to a complete edition of the weekly gazette of 

the same name published in Hamburg. Christian Haake used a pair of scissors to separate the information section, that is, the images and copy, from the rest of the newspaper and then shredded both parts in- dividually and mixed them with water. In this way he produced a light gray and, due to the printing ink, a dark gray pulp. The light pulp was spread to form a rectangle, and the darker pulp to form a much smaller square that was placed in the middle of the light gray ground. In terms of the dimensions of their surfaces, they accurately reproduce the relation of the information section to the rest of the newspaper. The overall surface of the light gray part, which constitutes the area of the picture and measures 71.8 by 51.8 centimeters, is exactly the same size as the newspaper. In this respect, despite his at first glance destructive, disintegrating approach, Haake adhered to the formal specifications of the gazette. Proverbially speaking, we know that nothing is older than yesterday’s paper. By taking an issue of a weekly newspaper and “recycling” it as described above regardless of its content, he lends it a certain perpetual value. Because everything that constitutes a newspa- per—its information, the added intellectual value of the images and copy—has been reduced to a formal denominator by means of a primi- tive method. It was spread to become a pulp of images and copy not only in a figurative but also in the most direct sense. What was once printed on the pages of this newspaper and could have informed, moved, inspi- red, or agitated us remains hidden forever in the thicket of the light and dark gray pulp. It can at most contemplated in an act of meditation but no longer rendered accessible in detail. A melancholic gaze such as the one described above also presents itself in this case.

Vacancy. Without originally having been planned to do so, the spati- al installation Nachbilder contains a specific reference to the genius loci, i.e., to the storefront at Kopstadtplatz and its urban setting: even in the year 2012, this neighborhood, which is located slightly north of the actual downtown area, does not exactly stand out as an elegant, vibrant city center but thanks to its visible share of vacancies and a certain state of neglect. That the Kunstverein Ruhr has been housed here since 2003 and presents exhibitions in a storefront is due to the fact that there were a number of vacant premises at what was once a vibrant and popular square at the time.9 However, what did and does 

not appear to be very well suited for prosperous business life in the Ruhr metropolis proves to be an ideal location for the visual arts in the northern downtown district. Yet this problem is not typical for cities in the Ruhr region as such but can be considered a nationwide, indeed an international phenomenon. When Christian Haake began produ- cing his video White Elephant in Bremen in 2011, he could have not yet known that just one year later it would be shown in a former (now and then actually vacant) business. Because he draws attention to a phenomenon in his video and in the empty display case that represents a genuine, overarching problem in our large cities, in particular since the turn of the millennium, he succeeds, as it were, in completing a circle in situ. For he transfers what was de facto the basis for being able to mount exhibitions at this central location in Essen’s city center, of all locations, to a level of aesthetic reflection.

Conclusion. Christian Haake’s artistic involvement with the Kunst- verein Ruhr’s exhibition space is ultimately a complex artistic decisi- on that is both location-specific and can also be transferred to other places.10 It conceptually and formally takes up something that makes up and defines the prevailing urban environment in numerous German and European cities. In this respect, the installation Nachbilder is at once minimalist, multimedia, and highly political, as it deals with a complex cluster of contemporary themes on different levels. With his emulating, quasi melancholic gesture and his artistically motivated approach of memory construction, Haake zeroes in on an important strand in our cultural history—in particular on the history of the me- tropolis, which began in the 19th century and in many Western cities took a turn after World War II. The installation casts light on some- thing that, in the course of a transformation of urban centers that is occurring in ever shorter intervals and at an ever more rapid pace, seems to be less and less perceptible and that threatens to completely disappear from our sight. By stopping the march of time, so to speak, in his work and presenting what is meanwhile something as untimely as an empty display case in a formerly vacant storefront, Haake makes us aware of these complex mechanisms and contexts.

Christian Haake creates something in situ that takes place both sym- bolically (in terms of art in the space for which it is reserved) as well 

as in reality (i.e., at an authentic site of urban goings-on in Essen). He takes advantage of the Kunstverein Ruhr’s inner-city location and its meanwhile ten-year-long function as a white cube11 to demonstrate that the sensuous, contradictory experience of vacant premises packed with artistic media can change into a special aesthetic experience and into insight.

The French philosopher Michel Foucault once introduced the concept of the heterotopia into the discussion.12 For him, heterotopias are actual places in which alternative social plans operate. They open up concrete opportunities to experience norms that are simultaneously outside of and contrary to the standard norms.13 Within a society, these real loca- tions act according to their own rules. They even enable a behavior endemic to prevailing norms and open up opportunities for critical reflection, analy- sis, and even contradiction. And yet at the same time they are something like a scaled-down depiction of society and the potential within which it exists. Christian Haake in effect created just such a place in Essen.

1 Walter Benjamin speaks of the viewer as an allegorist: “If the object becomes allegorical under the gaze of mel- ancholy, if melancholy causes life to flow out of it and it remains behind dead, but eternally secure, then it is exposed to the allegorist, it is unconditionally in his power. That is to say it is now quite incapable of emanating any meaning or significance of its own; such significance as it has, it acquires from the allegorist. He places it within it, and stands behind it, not in a psychological but in an ontological sense. In his hands the object becomes something different; through it he speaks of something different and for him it becomes a key to the realm of hidden knowledge; and he reveres it as the emblem of this.” Walter Benjamin, “Allegorical Soullessness,” The Origin of German Tragic Drama, trans. John Osborne (London and Brooklyn, 2009), pp. 183f.

2 The reasons for this advancement were: low wages, which made German products inexpensive on the world mar- ket, tax incentives for entrepreneurs, an abundance of well-trained workers—in particular displaced persons from the former eastern territories and until 1961 refugees from the GDR—the favorable development of the global economy with the removal of tariff barriers, and finally a high level of work motivation and the determi- nation to channel energy into recovery after the disaster of the Third Reich. Nevertheless, the popular catchword Wirtschaftswunder could not conceal the fact that for many people, its blessings did not come until much later and that poverty and social injustice continued to be widespread.

3 Gerry Souter, Edward Hopper (New York, 2012).

 

4 Authors such as Carson McCullers (Ballad of the Sad Cafe), Ernest Hemingway (A Clean, Well-Lighted Place; The Killers; Cat in the Rain), and others impressively describe an atmosphere that can at the same time be found in Edward Hopper’s paintings. Placing Haake’s distribution of light in this context is, even if he did not at all intend it to be, an interpretational comparison that definitely leads to surprisingly compatible results.

5 John Cage’s 4’33” from 1952 meanwhile counts among his most famous compositions. It was performed in front of an audience for the first time on August 29 1952, by the young pianist David Tudor in Woodstock, New York. However, the auditorium was silent, the fall remained closed. In fact, for Cage it was a matter of redefin- ing silence and demonstrating that there is no objective separation between sound and silence. See also John Cage, Silence (Frankfurt am Main, 2011).

6 Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, ed. Rolf Tiedemann, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (New York, 2002).

7 Cf. Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger, asst. Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge, MA, 1991).

8 Melancholy [from Greek melankholia, from melas, melan- ‘black’ + cholé ‘bile’] is an archaic term for the symptom complex of depression. In terms of conceptual history, it must be differentiated between melancholy as an affective disorder and the melancholic as a personality type. In antique characterology, besides the san- guine person, the choleric person, and the phlegmatic person, the melancholic was one of the traditional four temperaments.

9 In her 2005 exhibition, Franka Hörnschemeyer addressed the history and transformation of Kopstadtplatz. Around 1900, Kopstadtplatz in Essen was one of the most popular squares in the Ruhr region. Widely ac- claimed theater and vaudeville performances took place here, weekdays there was a farmer’s market. One could take a streetcar from different directions to the Colosseum and the adjacent Reichshallen Theater, where in 1906 a cinematograph was put into service that showed “living photographs.” There was a bur- lesque and vaudeville stage in the Reichshallen Theater, above which there was a café and with a cabinet of curiosities on the ground floor. Well known artists performed in the Colosseum: the humorist Otto Reutter, the juggler Rastelli, the later silent film diva Asta Nielsen, and the operetta star Fritzi Massary. Houdini described his encounter with the city of Essen in an article he wrote for an annual magazine for magicians. Today, hardly anything remains that recalls the former prominence of the square. See Sabine Maria Schmidt, “Disappearances and Contractions - Assembled Sketches from the Time Loop at Kopstadtplatz,” in Franka Hörnschemeyer, ed. Peter Friese, exh. cat. Kunstverein Ruhr (Essen, 2005), pp. 29 f.

10 What we are dealing with here is a phenomenon that can be frequently observed in numerous German cities. I have been personally familiar with Essen’s problematic northern downtown area since the 1960s and with the growing vacancy rates over the last twenty years in what was once an elegant theater arcade. In addition, I experi- enced the gradual decline of the Lloydhof in Bremen first-hand. The route from Bremerhaven’s central station to the downtown area is lined with numerous vacant businesses.

11 Cf. Brian O’Doherty, In der Weißen Zelle: Inside the White Cube, ed. Wolfgang Kemp (Berlin, 1996).

12 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York, 1994).

13 Hospitals, public swimming pools, libraries, psychiatric clinics, and prisons are heterotopias, as are theaters and museums. See Michel Foucault (1967), Of Other Spaces, Heterotopias, trans. Jay Miskowiec, http://foucault.info/ documents/heteroTopia/foucault.heteroTopia.en.html, accessed on November 26, 2012.

Text

Peter Friese
Afterimages

Published in: Christian Haake, Kunstverein Ruhr / Salon Verlag, 2012

White Elephant. A video loop projected onto the wall relates an apparently endless journey through a shopping mall such as the ones we are familiar with in Düsseldorf, Oberhausen, and Mülheim, another one recently opening at Limbecker Platz in Essen. However, in contrast to these operational malls, this labyrinth of consumption appears to be disconcertingly empty and in a state of decay, and it lacks store displays or people. The laconic tracking shot, with its noisy soundtrack in the background, does not seem to want to come to an end. In the United States, these bankrupt and consequently abandoned shopping centers are referred to as “white elephants.” In this case as well, Christian Haake did not make his video in a real mall but in a two-by-four-meter model constructed specifically for this purpose and using a miniature camera. The accuracy of the shattered shop windows, missing tiles, and a scenario in which melancholy predominates is striking. Yet even at third glance, the perplexingly “genuine“ new construction of the abandoned mall con rms the assumption that what we are dealing with here is a symbolic production and not a “realistic documentation.” Christian Haake proves himself to be all the more an artist who is not concerned with precise depictions in terms of a misunderstood “realism,” but rather with a conceptional approach that is in a position to shape and change our perceptions. 

It’s Like a Walk in Hopper. Yet one should take the time to recognize and to acknowledge the video’s formal qualities, distribution of light, and its overall dramaturgy. In this respect, what is notable are the calm, smooth tracking shot and the associated lighting of the lmic ambience of what we now know to be a model. Haake’s distribution of light creates an atmosphere we often nd in well composed paintings. Diagonal strips of light organize the projection surface like two merging images. Some will feel reminded of the sophisticated light situations in pictures by the American painter Edward Hopper. 

And some of the atmospheres in postwar American literature in which the protagonists linger in a state of meaningless rather than live are described in a way that could also nd its equivalent both in Hopper’s paintings as well as in this video. What they all share is a contemplative conviction borne by basic existential principles that is lent cre- dible expression. Haake shows us something that we believe to have seen before. Yet these memories prove to be constructed visions that cause us to become thoughtful and that pose riddles. Their references to the realities of our cities, to everyday consumption, turn them into melancholy commentaries on our present age that are however acutely pertinent to reality. Christian Haake furthermore developed a unique soundtrack for his video that initially sounds like equipment-related noise: each succession of cuts, often associated with a change in the direction of the camera, alters the pitch and volume of this constant tone. Here, Haake captured those moments from various (unidentified) film sequences in which no dialogue took place. This technique of em- ploying gaps and silence, which is used, for example, in action lms, often serves to create tension. In this case, Haake is capable of setting both a monotonous as well as irritating counterpoint—off-camera, so to speak—to his tracking shot that in retrospect may be reminiscent of John Cage’s treatment and compositional analysis of silence. 

Walter Benjamin Says Hello. With respect to both dealing with memories as well as understanding inner-city situations, the German phi- losopher, author, and art critic Walter Benjamin almost automatically adopts a special position. In his book The Arcades Project he develops a method of viewing history in which big city phenomena such as boulevards, shop windows, street lighting, and the eponymous glass-covered arcades begin to play a particular role. For Benjamin, in metropolises such as Paris, London, Brussels, or Berlin, the flaneur someone underway and without a specific goal within an urban environment— has stood for the archetypical city dweller since the 19th century. By stopping to look at shop window displays, exchanging glances with other passers-by, or sitting down in a café, together with like-minded fidlers he assures himself of a certain attitude toward life. Benjamin calls the arcades “temples of commodity capital,” and the presentation of various articles that can be purchased in illuminated shop windows and display cases becomes their trademark and actual purpose. In addition, the steel constructions developed in the 19th century allow the extensive glazing and transparence of the respective architecture and lend these ambulatories a dual character. They are simultaneously inside and outside, street and building, and moving within them corresponds with a form of behavior in public urban space that remains valid to this day. Special credit belongs to Walter Benjamin for declaring the promenading and consuming that became features of a “structural transformation of the public sphere” in the 19th century as a model of the historical development of middle-class society, whose symptoms continue to be visible and perceptible. The un nished Arcades Projectcan justifiably be understood as the “prehistory of modernity,” an unusual and still applicable parable capable of developing a perspective for the present and the future based on urban development of the 19th century and which stands at a clear distance from methods of a conventional interpretation of history. 

CV

Solo Exhibitions

2022
in cases off, in cases off, Galerie K', Bremen

2019
On Diplays, Drawing Room, Hamburg

2017
fluid, Städtische Galerie Delmenhorst
possumplay, Galerie K', Bremen

2016
im Interim (with Achim Bertenburg), Galerie K', Bremen
Einzelpräsentation mit Galerie K', viennacontemporary, Wien, Austria

2015
Spins/Circles/Abstracts, Kunsthalle Bremerhaven

2013
Echoes, Kunstverein Langenhagen

2012
Nachbilder, Kunstverein Ruhr, Essen

2011
White Elephant, GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen

2010
Fisherman`s Friends (with Horst Müller), Cuxhavener Kunstverein
Transit, Bremer Kunst Satellit (with Korpys/Löffler), Galerie Manzara Perspectives, Istanbul, Turkey

2019
Open Space, Art Cologne, Galerie Katharina Bittel
NOW SHOW, Galerie Katharina Bittel, Hamburg

Collections

Bundeskunstsammlung, Bonn

Karin und Uwe Hollweg Stiftung, Bremen

Bremer Landesbank

Kunsthalle Hamburg

Kunstmuseum Bonn

Kunsthalle Bremerhaven

Städtische Galerie Delmenhorst

Group Exhibitions

2022
Remix. Einblicke in die Sammlung zeitgenössischer Kunst, Kunsthalle Bremen
Something new, something old, something desired, Hamburger Kunsthalle

2021
Look! Enthüllungen zu Kunst und Fashion, Marta, Herford
Completly Knocked Down, Museu de Arte Moderna Aloisio Magalhaes, Recife, Brasilien
Abbruch aller Moderne, Galerie K', Bremen
Domino 3, Salve Berlin

2020 
Invitation to Love – a groupshow curated by FORT, Kunstverein Bremerhaven

2019
Bildersprachen, Syker Vorwerk

2016
|_|, Forum Stadtpark, Graz, Austria
Review, Galerie Christine König, Wien, Austria
Interludium I, GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst Bremen
Editionen, Kunstverein Bremerhaven

2015
Künstlerräume 02, Weserburg - Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen

2014
Was Modelle können, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Siegen
Cage_Raum, kuratiert von Wulf Herzogenrath, SUUM academy, Seoul, Korea
Beauty lies in desire, museum of contemporary art, Novi Sad, Serbia
Blanks, Galerie K', Bremen
COLLAB, Kreuzbergpavillon, Berlin

2013
HEIMsuchung, Kunstmuseum Bonn

2012
+6/2012 shortlist Columbus Art Foundation, Ravensburg

2011
Double take, kuratiert von Brigitte Kölle, M.1 Arthur Boskamp-Stiftung, Hohenlockstedt
Transit, Bremer Kunst Satellit at Galerie Manzara Perspectives, Istanbul, Turkey
Präsentation Paula- Modersohn-Becker-Preis, Kunsthalle Worpswede
Gazing into the stars, Riga Art Space, Riga, Latvia

2009
Grid and Line, Galerie Katharina Bittel, Hamburg
Space Revised #1 Friendly Takeovers. Strategien der Raumaneignung, Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen