Ellen Rodenberg & EX-MĘKH_FeMaler
U - Kleistpark (U7) in Berlin
Opening with performance
Ellen Rodenberg was invited by A-Trans to
make an installation one the theme Femmes-City-Berlin.
Therefore, Ellen Rodenberg invited her
colleagues of EX-MĘKH to participate.
Ellen Rodenberg, Kees Koomen und Maarten Schepers, came together as a collective that wants
to examine the nature and process of making exhibitions. Since 2007 EX-MĘKH
have done exhibitions in many kinds of spaces, ranging from tiny and intimate
spaces till huge halls. The context of the work and its presentation must
always be newly developed and redefined.
Ellen Rodenberg, The Hague, NL, June 2020
(m)Maquette: Maarten Schepers (r) installation of
the two vitrines in Berlin
(l) Isolde Nagel (Atrans)
and the openingsrituals of the project of A Femmes City in U bahn Kleistpark,
(r) Performance Kees Koomen
‘Knocking on heaven’s Door’
FeMaler. Installation Ellen Rodenberg (l)
Have you seen the Stars Tonight. Installation of Kees
Koomen and Maarten Schepers (r)
Opening action Ellen
Rodenberg, un-taping the window
Inviting the audience to
At the opening, the first
drawings by the audience are presented.
De afzonderlijke verf afdrukken hebben vormen aangenomen die voor
meerdere interpretaties vatbaar zijn. Pareidolie, Rorschach associaties geven ruimte aan individuele
geheugenactiviteit. Uitwisseling roept onmiddellijk misverstanden en dus de
roep op uitgebreidere informatie. Maar de taal maakt het misverstand vaak
alleen maar groter.
We delen elkaar
enkel bestaande categorieën en indelingen mee.
Waar is de ruimte?
Individual paint prints have taken forms
that are open to multiple interpretations. Pareidolia, Rorschach associations
give room for individual memory activity. Exchange immediately evokes
misunderstandings and thus the call for more extensive information. But
language often only adds to the misunderstanding.
We only communicate existing categories and
classifications to each other.
Where is the space?
Thoughts afterwards 1.
Vitrine U, A Femmes City
The test phase for the Schaufenster
(Ellen Rodenberg) lasted 3 months. Laying cotton sheets and cloths on large
sheets of white board, applying the thinned paint, folding it, drying it,
pulling it loose, hanging it up, folded, hanging loose, curled up, creased,
observing a composition in which the individual paint forms as floating in a
space brought together to be entirely itself. There they are like a staged
aquarium in which all attributes and living organisms are artificially and
carefully composed together for the admiring eye of the maker and the viewer.
The theme A Femmes City (a project from Atrans) and the U bahn location
have both influenced the new work that has been developed. I have been looking
for a concept that leaves room to discover new insights, directions, and vistas.
The Covid-19 pandemic made us uncertain about when to implement it, but not
about feasibility. The opening and public rituals continued to contain
uncertainties until the very end. As it has been, can be seen in the photo
Preparations and artistic work process,
Underlying thoughts of what is female? What
are feminine qualities? Can you tell from a work of art whether it was made by
a woman? What's the point of this sorting of kind? Who benefits from this?
In any case, I saw advantages for dealing with
the subject by involving the EX-MĘKH group in this. We have never
made a distinction before, based on male or female classification.
Three people, 2 men, 1 woman, we have never
tackled a theme like this before.
In the conversations with the other 2 artists
of the EX-MĘKH group it became clear to me that especially the way of working, reasoning,
and considering is different, possibly even feminine in nature. Where is the
difference between character and gender? A distinction is always arbitrary. My
conclusion was, therefore, let's make the separation artificially for this
project. The 2 men will work in 1 display case together and I as a woman work
in the other display case. Language alone feels unbalanced, inadequate.
Simone de Beauvoir, Camilla Pglia, Luce Irigarai, Joke
Hermsen bring me a new gender awareness, but not directly on deviant work. The
work must be done first. It is only by living life that you discover what you really
"want to do". This is not an empty slogan. Being busy is deeply
human. The meaning of this is tangible, visible, noticeable in everything
around us. The situation, location, atmosphere of the environment is an
essential factor that influences how and what you are doing as a person. The
how and with what, that is the question. I think both are individual in nature.
Masculine or feminine is too crude a form of characterization. There are so
many factors that determine how you act in each situation.
The title FeMaler
summarizes this dilemma. Fe femmes (Fr), female. maler(D),
male (Eng), femaler (Eng).
How and with what?
The method has been practical. After a few
conversations, I noticed that we best use the proven method that we have been
using as EX-MĘKH for more than 10 years. The theme can be interpreted in its
own way for everyone. This means that everyone also proposes their own version.
The fact that Maarten and Kees together have 1
display case at their disposal is a complication that they themselves have to deal with. This is also the first time that the
spatial distribution is uneven in the beginning and not a point of discussion.
Maarten and Kees have divided the space in their
appropriate way. Maarten Schepers made his own design
for the display case, Kees immediately played with
the idea of "the Muses". In consultation they have
brought several ideas into 1 artwork. Title: Have you seen the Stars tonight?
Including the performance by Kees Koomen:
Knocking on Heavens Door.
The Schaufenster I
had at my disposal was the same size. As with a solo exhibition, you only must
deal with your own work. Although the theme played a role and the concept has
led to an artificial division, I am curious about the outcome. What can be read
For the time being, the work has been made and
will be on view until October 18, 2020, in Vitrine U, Bahnhof
The public is invited to respond (visually) to
social media such as Instagram. # FeMaler_U7_Berlin
The public space U7 Kleistpark.
The opening took place at 7 p.m.
Given the covid-19 situation, there were not
too many people, so a distance could be kept.
The performances and rituals were also geared
to this. Partly behind glass and partly at a distance from each other.
Temporarily appropriating a space and being
publicly visible without any commercial ulterior motives is one of the aspects
of a good public space.
A performance in a public space; there is
always the chance that something unforeseen will happen,
which also happened (see photos of the
intervention of a passer-by looking for his own audience for his own cause).
One ran back and forth "smoothly" in
After the performance "Knocking on heaven’s
Door", Maarten and Kees' Schaufenster
was transformed into an interior that will be on view until 18 October.
The days before the opening, the display case
was only occupied by a swimmer and a stone.
The title of the installation is: Have you
seen the Stars Tonight.
The opening ritual was followed by an opening
act by Ellen Rodenberg.
I had pasted short pieces of tape in green and
red on the Schaufenster.
The opening act consisted of simply removing
the tape, which by the way did not hide anything.
The tape did, however, provide the temporary
visibility of a "4th wall".
After putting the tape on my pants, I stepped
into the role of hostess and handed out drawing books.
I invited the public to view the installation FeMaler and choose part of it as inspiration for a drawing.
I photographed their drawings, and it was
posted on Instagram under the hashtag #Femaler_U7_Berlin
Thoughts afterwards 2.
The words i
didn’t use at the opening of ‘Femaler’.
A Femmes City
I like to use James Browns song, ‘It is a mans world, but it would be
nothing without a woman or a girl’, and turn it into If it was a womans world, it would be nothing without a man or a boy.
Camilla Paglia who wrote ‘Sexual Personae’
would agree. She wonders: What drives us to be sexual and violent?
That is the reason for inviting my fellow
male partners from EX-MĘKH to work in the second vitrine.
A way to get to know each other better.
Although we work already for over 10 years together.
The differences are visibly obvious. The
motivation can be guessed.
Men, women, we are different. That must be
traceable in the art also.
The two vitrines show how.