Installment #1: Ben Nurgenc – 12/8.3.2
Was Richard Paulick a sad man? After the Second World War, the architect returned in 1950 from his exile in Shanghai to the divided Berlin and its Soviet sector. He had received his training before the war by both, expressionist architect Hans Poelzig and at the Bauhaus in Dessau. Paulick then worked as the head of Walter Gropius’ famous architectural office. After his return to Germany he joined the architectural task force of the newly founded German Democratic Republic to help rebuild the destroyed Berlin, east of Alexanderplatz. Reading about the years of Paulick’s arrival in Berlin, when the political elite hadn’t decided yet what the ‘look’ of Karl-Marx-Allee should be, leaves an emotional mark. What Simone Hain has called “colonial architecture” clearly conveys an idea of Russian imperialist politics imposing their aesthetics in East Germany. However, and according to Hain and other historians dealing with Paulick’s evolution from Bauhaus avant-gardist to socialist pragmatist, his Block C-Nord on Karl-Marx-Allee cannot only be characterized by a historical juxtaposition of one world power (Russia) enforcing a stylistic canon to oppose the modernist legacy of the other (the USA). Looking at Block C-Nord in its renovated yet historically significant state, it is in fact interesting to see that the building’s astonishing mix of stylistic features triggers nostalgic notions of the loss of a modernist aesthetic associated with the iconic aesthetic features of the Bauhaus school. Richard Paulick’s creative evolution and his Block C-Nord on Karl-Marx-Allee, however, could be examined in terms of a larger and far more complex aesthetic history of post-modernism in the making, as Wolfgang Thöner and Peter Müller pointed out in reference to Robert Venturi’s seminal study “Learning from Las Vegas” (1972).
Ben Nurgenc (*1986) was invited to install the inaugural show at kma71’s freshly renovated space in the porter’s lodge of Karl-Marx-Allee 71-75, which is part of Block C-Nord by Richard Paulick. Ben holds a Master’s degree in Fine Arts (2017, Muthesius Kunsthochschule, Kiel; Pratt Institute, New York, class of Sheila Pepe; HfbK Hamburg, class of Adam Broomberg und Oliver Chanarin), and a Master’s degree in Art History and Theory (2013, Birkbeck University of London). He has received a graduate scholarship from DAAD and the merit based scholarship of Pratt Institute, New York. His objects are influenced by the minimalist tradition in the US. They were, however, also conceived in dialogue with his recurrent fascination about speculative science and SETI, his training as an art historian and as a photographer. His installment at kma71 is the first solo presentation of his sculptural work.