"Fabulous Video Art"
The Press on Once Upon a Time
With the exhibition "Once Upon a Time," the Deutsche Guggenheim asks how contemporary video artists adapt motifs and narrative techniques from myths and fairy tales to reflect on current social phenomena and events. The show, curated by Joan Young of the New York Guggenheim Museum, met with very positive reactions in the press.
"Inspires the imagination" says Monopol; "exciting" says the Berliner Morgenpost; "fantastic" says Neues Deutschland. The city magazine Zitty has included Once Upon a Time in its list of the best exhibitions of Berlin’s art summer, and even the Greek edition of Woman lists the show among their top ten cultural events in Europe. Tip sums up the show with these words: "in six works, the exhibition Once Upon a Time shows how video art can be used to tell modern fairy tales and fantastic stories." Carsten Probst of Deutschlandfunk finds "fabulous video art" in the Deutsche Guggenheim: "a meditation successful in its laconic brevity on the perception of the real and of realism in contemporary art."
Claudia Wahjudi of Tagesspiegel sees things similarly: "Through a detour of fantastic stories, Once Upon a Time reports on reality. (…) A fascinating exhibition, which is also due to an architecture that sharpens the eye. The narrow hall is turned into a kind of street where the viewer wanders into differently designed video cabins like small stores." art-in-berlin also praises the presentation of the video works: "A room design that is architecturally pleasing and harmonious in color leads the visitor through the corridors from room to room in the form of passageways that grow wider or narrower, acute angles, and various different types of lighting. The artistic works are installed in individual rooms each of which feels like a world unto itself. Thus, each work stands on its own (…) and yet the narrative character, the fairy tale motif, and the critical examination of various different social situations becomes clear."
The rbb Kulturradio finds that, although not every work is equally convincing, the exhibition "creates an illuminating overview of a genre—cinematic narratives with fantastic motifs—that has greatly increased in importance for art over the past several years." In Neues Deutschland, Anouk Meyer is head-over-heels about Cao Fei’s video Whose Utopia: "A criticism of capitalism couldn’t be more poetic! (…) The works shown question the alienation in the industrial working world and the creation of collective myths." Katerina Valdivia Bruch in Aesthetica is mainly excited by Francis Alÿs’s When Faith Moves Mountains: "The symbolic movement of the mountain by the group is almost an act of faith, pointing out that every single individual is important in order to reach a common goal." And art daily arrives at the following conclusion: "Each work in ‘Once Upon a Time’ tells a story and leaves the viewer subtly altered by the possibilities for transformation of human, political, and social conditions."