Thoughts On: Berlin Gallery Weekend (Part Two: Inka Büttner)

  Inka Büttner 

(hosted by Holthoff-Mokross Galerie, Hamburg) at Paper Positions, Bikini Berlin, Budapester Str. 38-50, Berlin

Image borrowed from:"installation view at Paper Positions" Photo by Anna Russ

            On the evening I arrived in Berlin I was invited by an art journalist friend of mine to visit the opening of an independent art fair called Paper Positions. It was not part of the official Gallery Weekend, but was the equivalent of a satellite show soaking up some of the audience who would be in town looking for new works to invest in. The premise of the event was to showcase contemporary galleries from across Northern Europe and having glanced over the promotional information I thought it worth my while hopping on an S-bahn for. The fair was hosted by Bikini Berlin, a sprawling “concept mall” in City West and we initially were turned away by not one, but two bouncers. Clearly we were not the intended audience and having finally managed to sneak up an escalator and into the show, we were offered the cheapest white wine.

            Half a glass of vinegar and a quick dash around the fair later a collage of breasts with black cut-out cats over them, revealing only the nipples- the complete reverse of any traditional “modesty bar” leapt out at me. The work was by a Hamburg-artist called Inka Büttner and being hosted by Holthoff-Mokross Galerie. I had to find out more and luckily the Gallery Director was nearby and happy to chat with me.

With playful eroticism half of Büttner’s work exists in a state between suggestive pin-up photography and open pornography. Contrasting the naked with the clothed it is singular, and speaks confidently of intimacy and solitary desire. Büttner was the partner first of Martin Kippenberger and later Werner Büttner (whom she married). Having been with two prominent German Artists she has now declared: "In the past ten years, I have no need for men and now I feel much freer." The collages, like intimate meditations of her own desire, most certainly reflects this.

The other half of Büttner’s work plays with primary colours, contrasting bold circles with black and white imagery. Some of her collages directly echo Max Ernst’s Dadaville, Grätenwald or The Fall of an Angel – though Büttner places obvious allusions to breasts where Ernst’s circular motifs would be. In this way you can see her playing not only with the basics of the imagery she has gathered but with various tropes of mixed media and collage art.

I was very lucky to walk away with a copy of the catalogue for Büttner’s recent show vive les vacances! – gifted to me by that friendly Gallery Director. It is something I really will treasure. She has said "Collages are like life itself," … "They can be dismantled and reassembled at any time. The constant river fascinates me.” and she is an artist who I can see living up to her words.

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