All eyes, each person sees differently; perceive differently and judge differently. So Heike and I are definitely looking through different glasses, at least professionally. We both start an experiment. A harmless experiment, but an interesting one. An experiment that has to do with culture: We always visit the same museum and the same theater production. But we hardly exchange ideas, write down our individual experiences separately and compare them here. How different can the stories be?
Ray of light for Frauke
On a Sunday in Advent I was at the Center for International Light Art in Unna – one of the 21 RuhrArtMuseums ; not alone because of the group tour, but without Heike. It was my second visit to the former Linden Brewery in two years. That's why I still had good memories of a few works from the collection, such as Mischa Kuball's "Space-Speech-Speed" (2001) or Keith Sonnier's "Tunnel of Tears" (2002). Since the permanent exhibition always keeps a few rooms under lock and key, I was able to enjoy Rebecca Horn's "Lotus Schatten" (2006) for the first time this year.
But I was absolutely thrilled by the inconspicuous, filigree and at the same time enchanting work by Raika Dittmann: CHAORDISCH is a comparatively young work from 2016 and is structured like a mobile. The translucent objects and copper wires cast shadows on the wall using spot-ons. The images are reminiscent of kaleidoscope-like raindrops.
Frauke's fascination with light
The current special exhibition "Fascination Light" celebrates the 20th anniversary of the world's first and so far only museum for light art. It comprises three works - so to speak, "small but nice". Well, the individual works weren't all that small! “Spectrum (Frame Version)”, a rainbow tunnel made up of supposedly 20 rectangularly arranged neon tubes (I counted 14), inspires right at the beginning. The frames are lined up one behind the other at constant intervals. They float in space and you can step through the color spectra (“Don't jump over them,” says the group leader and art historian). If you stand in the middle in front of the LED lights, the central perspective takes hold and the vanishing point pulls you into the colorful grid. If you look from the side, the structure is reminiscent of the rainbow spiral,
In the space between the cellar vaults you enter a dark room par excellence! At one end of it is a room installation “Plane Scape” by the artists Wolfgang Bittner, Lyndsey Housden, Yoko Seyama and Jereon Uyttendaele. The group work is immersive (a popular word in current art discourse: can be experienced with all the senses): Thin, vertically arranged rubber bands span a labyrinth full of holes that can hardly be seen in the dark. The accompanying six-channel sound composition allows minimal light sources to wander through the installation. Associations with flocks of birds, monsoons and the matrix are released. If you take off your shoes, you can even enter the construct. I carefully groped my way through the verticals. I lost a bit of the feeling for above and below because of the flashing dots of light.
In the last room, the artist Adela Andea has attached a filigree installation to the walls of the Lindenbrauerei with absolute precision. Thin, colored neon tubes meander across the wall, crossing each other and seeming to float in the corners. Including colorful bodies made of foam rings. Up close you can discover all sorts of details and different materials. From afar, "Chaos Incarnate" looks like a huge, colorful thundercloud.
Frauke's Light Experience
All works are real eye-catchers and look almost even better on the photos than in real life. No wonder so many come here with cameras. Unfortunately, it seemed to our guide that there was little interest in information - I was missing a bit of art-historical references here and there. But maybe that's not really necessary with light art, and of course you could always ask. The house also expressly recommends the photo tours in order to try out different settings with plenty of time. Maybe next time?
"Hippieh - ya - hey" - Heike in a frenzy of colour
The Center for International Light Art in Unna has been around for 20 years, and that's roughly how long it's been since I was there for the first and last time (at least it was during ExtraShift ). Reason enough, then, to set foot over the basement threshold again. Especially since the current temporary exhibition, which is being shown on the occasion of the anniversary, promises a real rush of colour. And since I'm a big fan of light installations and light art anyway, a week later I embark on my journey to Unna as Frauke.
Small but mighty
As part of a - fortunately - small group tour, I first go through parts of the permanent exhibition (that's worth it, too), for example about the installation by Joseph Kosuth, a representative of conceptual art from the 70s, which addresses a poem by Heinrich Heine that is written on the floor of a room is "installed". We walk across it in a zigzag bridge and only ever see excerpts. Since the museum is located in the basement of the former Linden brewery, the high basement rooms do the rest for the effect of the art installations.
Heike's fascination with light
Our art mediator then leads us quickly to the temporary exhibition rooms, where we have enough time to marvel (and take pictures)! The first room with the installation Spectrum (Frame Version) by Olivier Ratsi immediately captivates me. I feel a little like I did in art class when we practiced drawing perspective with a vanishing point ;-). The 20 (it should be) LED frames hung in a row suggest a depth in the room and the color changes create a special vibration. A nice 70s feeling arises - intoxication without addictive substances so to speak.
Vertical elastic twist in the dark
In the second room we find a walkable forest made of thousands of white rubber bands. The image of a moving, abstract landscape is projected onto this. I enter the installation without shoes and feel like I am in a maze. But you don't have to go inside to experience Plane Scape. The almost 40-minute sequence of images can also be experienced from the outside! Nevertheless, I recommend the step-in experience, because the experience is always special!
However, my personal “flasher” is the third room in the “Fascination with Light” exhibition. I immediately feel “at home” here, because the installation is called “Chaos Incarnate” – color, light, material – everything is arranged in a crazy and chaotic way on the walls, ceiling and floor, almost like a “wall sponge” only of course not so unappealing. The installation by the Texan light artist Adela Andea is also somewhat reminiscent of underwater worlds and coral reefs. The materials are a "colorful" mix of electronic components, fluorescent tubes, plastic - is it pool noodles that have been sliced open? – kind of insane, but mainly very psychedelic and absolutely cool!
Heike's radiant experience
The temporary exhibition alone is worth a visit to the Unna Center for International Light Art! But the permanent exhibition also gives a lot of mega impressions - and you will also get really good background information on the 90-minute tour - thanks at this point to our dedicated mediator! Time flies and a new visit will certainly not take place again in 20 years!
Hippie groove on a yesterday date
Flower-Power-Love & Peace Atmosphere not only in Unna, but also in Essen's Aalto Theater, whose organic architecture I really like! It's groovy here. Because this is where Frauke and I have our “Yesterdate” in the musical revue of the same name by Heribert Feckler and Marie-Helen Joël. The music of the Swinging Sixties is revived in the two and a half hour piece. I'm a huge fan of the Austin Powers films and grew up listening to my parents' Beatles records - so I get a little twinkle in my eye at anything from that era! But we take it easy and start with pot salad around the corner with a "light" bowl (one is actually enough for 2 people). Pottsalat's Potties didn't actually design their store for on-site consumption,
"Very psychedelic" at the Aalto Theater in Essen - Heike's perspective
Delicious - so fortified we enter the Aalto-Theater, one of eleven Ruhr stages , and get involved on a "Yesterdate". The story revolves around the last concert of the Beatles on their Bravo Blitz tour in Essen and the band that a few Beatles fans founded back then and whose revival performance is now pending. Very nice: the five former band members meet in an apartment furnished in the style of the 1960s to plan their performance. There is a lot of singing and reminiscing about that time. Some members of the band have such powerful voices that I can immediately feel the vibes of the 60s. And the background stories about the individuals make us puzzle, smile and laugh.
Sing along welcome!
I can sing along to the songs across the board and I think it's great - although the piece is definitely a mixture of musical and operetta for me and I don't really like it that much. But here the songs are just so wonderful and the story so entertaining that I like to get involved! Even if I initially thought that the Aalto Theater and the play didn't go together, this changed over the course of the performance, because the organic design language of the building and the hippie-like feeling of the play simply "matched" very well!
I don't want to anticipate too much of the plot, but: As a viewer, I sing along and feel very comfortable, even if the story could have offered one or the other "resolution" or more details in my opinion. All in all, it was a very well-rounded evening, so an absolute recommendation for all people with a connection to the 60s and 70s!
Flower Power Frauke
Finally more theater again! Simply an event in itself to be in the Aalto building in Essen. White predominates inside and out - a stark contrast to the night sky as well as the German fashion preference for black. The stage area also forms a contrast; here a blue à la Yves Klein predominates. As Heike explains to me on our seats, the architect is also known for a certain design of flower vases. He has remained true to this form in the rank balconies. Flower power is also the order of the day on stage:
Flashback to the hippie era
The play is introduced with projected black-and-white photographs (somehow this is currently popular in the theater world): hippies with guitars in a meadow, protest marches against nuclear weapons, signs against the Vietnam War. All slides that the protagonists look at together at Bärbel and Lutz. Their apartment furnishings may have stuck in the 1960s, but in life they have set themselves up in the middle-class senior physician style. Kenneth also inherited well - he can't really part with the luxury of a London shop. The friends who, among other things, witnessed Woodstock in 1969 reminisce.
Their VW bus was called Yellow Submarine, the band "Dropping Soft Ice" (right, not dripping; whether it was a joke or a lack of English is not explained). When planning a gig in the '90s, they sing songs from their youth. The lyrics fit well into the dialogue. But when Gunda shows up with her son Alexander, a secret that has been kept for years comes to light...
Wish fulfillment just before Christmas
The music is great! I'm amazed at how many songs I know. Someone in the audience is always singing along, and that's totally okay. When Brigitte Oelke starts singing "Son of a Preacher Man", she has the full attention of the room - vocally just great!
The self-assessment of the others is healthy: "Treat yourself to a drink during the break. Because the more they drink, the better we sound!” No sooner said than done; over a glass of wine I say to Heike: "Live music would be nice!"
Frauke's second act
My wish has never been fulfilled so quickly: In the second part, a band is on stage. The benefit concert is obviously taking place. Song follows song, the fashion of the time is shown in all its colourful, absurd and beautiful facets. The highlight - but unfortunately also the only resumption of the storyline - is Thomas Hohler's and Henrik Wager's "Father and Son". The two convince both vocally and acting. The end of the party is announced with confetti and balloons.
Don't lose the groove - Frauke's conclusion
The piece is a musical journey into the 60s and is just plain fun! The audience got infected. For most of them, the songs probably awaken their own memories. For me (with my tender 30 years) rather less. But I love this time - especially political! Unfortunately I missed that a bit; the rebellion against the parent generation, the student movements, the Cold War and the emergence of conservation. The time came alive on stage mainly through music, design and fashion. But very skillfully! Since Friday I've had songs from the 60s playing at home. Unfortunately not on vinyl, but on the mobile phone ... with Bluetooth box ... via Spotify. Welcome back to the 20s - the second millennium. 😉
Photo: Keith Sonnier, Tears of Tunnel, 2002 © artist/Center for International Light Art/ RTG
Photo: Mischa Kuball, Space – Speech – Speed, 2001 © artist/Center for International Light Art/ RTG
Photo: Raika Dittmann, Chaordisch, 2016 © artist /Center for International Light Art/ RTG
Photo: Olivier Ratsi, Spectrum (Frame Version) © Artists/Center for International Light Art/ RTG
Photo: Adela Andea, Chaos Incarnate, 2021 © Artists/Center for International Light Art/ RTG
Photo: Group work ( See text), Plane Scape, 2012/21 © Artist/Center for International Light Art/RTG
Photo: Joseph Kosuth, The Signature of the Word, 2001 © Artist/Center for International Light Art/RTG
Photo: Rebecca Horn, Lotus Shadow, 2006 © Artist/Center for International Light Art/RTG
Photo: Bruce Nauman, The True Artist Helps The World (c) Artist/Center for International Light Art/RTG
All Yesterdate production images © Matthias Jung