L.A-based artist/curator Niko Solorio represents Los Angeles abroad. Berlin Gallery Cercle Blanc, founded by Luci Lux, opens tonight with an exhibition featuring work by artists from Los Angeles and Napoli. The gallery itself wants to be a work of art—a social sculpture in the Beuysian sense, concentrating disparate disciplines in search of limitless possibilities. This interview with Max Dax, the gallery cook, by Drew Denny.
What’s the story of Cercles?
Luci Lux was offered a huge exhibition space on Berlin Alexanderplatz, in the exact center of the city, for no rent. The space is called HBC and used to be the cultural embassy for Hungaria during the GDR. The people who run the HBC only had one Bedingung: Luci should organize and curate the best art shows in Berlin. Jean-Pierre Melville shot his landmark film “Le Cercle Rouge” (the red circle) in 1970. We called the gallery space “Le Cercle Blanc” (the white circle—like white cube) in homage to Melville’s film. Luci Lux has a sharp team of people around her: gallery manager Nadine Stich of Bavarian heritage, Niko Solorio is a Los Angeles-based curator who takes care of the overseas contacts, and myself, Max Dax. I am the cook.
What happens inside the White Circle?
The Cercle Blanc will present one group exhibition every month. The whole project is like a social sculpture in the Beuys sense. We have a bar in the Cercle gallery called Quadratur where our private friends gather. We have a small kitchen where I cook for the crew.
What’s your curatorial agenda? What are you trying to promote? Critique?
There is no curatorial agenda as such. We focus on group exhibitions that bring together works by many artists. We take care that there is interdisciplinarity: Performances, pictures, sculptures, music, films, food—everything is possible, as long as Luci Lux thinks the artworks are appropriate and fitting. We have a special focus on music. Bands will be playing, two DJs will spin records from Naples and L.A. Did you know that the music business as such was invented in Naples a century ago? The canzoni Napoletani from singers like Enrico Caruso (“O sole mio”) are widely regarded as the first (recorded) pop songs in the world. It is fascinating to play tunes that are linked by a city and not by a matching beat… Andre Vida will play some psychedelic hardcore instrumental jazz with his trio.
Regarding this inaugural exhibition: Why the focus on Los Angeles and Napoli? What are the parallels between those two cities? How do they relate to the scene in Berlin?
Luci and I were staying in Los Angeles to meet Holly Woodlawn and a couple of friends. Up on Mulholland Drive I told Luci that L.A. reminds me so much of the Italian port town of Naples. You have the ocean and the mountains and the valleys and the vast, widespread moloch—like grid in both cities. You have the fear of death in Naples due to the volcano, and in L.A. you have the danger of an earthquake that might occur any moment. The inhabitants of both cities share a sixth sense for superstition, and they certainly love cars and freeways. And then, of course, both cities look back at a drag history. You only have to read Curzio Malaparte’s masterpiece “The Skin” and you know what I mean. Luci and I found these parallels utterly fascinating. Knowing artists in both cities, we then traveled to Naples and asked some of them to participate. Together with a couple of Berlin artists who also contribute to the exhibition, it becomes more and more obvious, that this first show in the Cercle Blanc gallery will be not only a topical exhibition, but also a place and a moment where major parts of the Berlin art scene will gather to meet and talk.
The artists who will contribute are:
Abel Baker Gutierrez
L.A. NAPOLI FEATURING PERFORMANCES BY MARGRET KOLL, ARMIN LINKE/MATTEO FRATERNO, AND TWO FILM SCREENINGS TONIGHT APRIL 28 8 PM AT LE CERCLE BLANC GALLERY KARL-LIEBKNECHT-STRAßE 9 / BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ / EINGANG .HBC.