The artwork of Irène Hug (SENSATION & REFLECTION) — in the form of general enlightenment and in particular words — must be discovered. Then the sign must be read and what follows is an understanding of what should be initiated or what thoughts should be developed. At first glimpse it looks like a commercial display placed between others, although it does not aim to attract the interest of a consumer, but to the main sources of all the ideas we have, mentioned by the 18th century English empiricist John Locke.
Sensation is meant in the sense of perceiving with the senses, it can also be regarded as an extraordinary act or even a feast. Locke argued that the mind does not have innate ideas, and so sensory knowledge is the only knowledge we can have. In contrast, the term Reflection can be understood physically in the sense of throwing back waves or thinking about something. It is an operation that the mind performs.

Language, writing and text are a common thread in Irène Hug’s work. She often plays with the meaning as well as the typographic forms of signs, logos and advertising slogans. She does this by appropriating, reworking, or repurposing found materials and transforming them into light boxes, installations, photographs (which she often manipulates), objects, (wood) sculptures, among others. The works become temporary placements on walls and buildings while adding new meaning to existing structures. By doing so, the artist questions our entanglements in everyday consumerism and challenges us to understand the true meaning of things and words behind the surface.

Die Balkone 2 — Scratching the Surface
An exhibition in Prenzlauer Berg windows and balconies
Curated by Övül Ö. Durmusoglu & Joanna Warsza

w/ Sarah Alberti & Grischa Meyer, Salwa Aleryani, Ulf Aminde, Kader Attia, Yael Bartana & Saskia Wendland, Timur Celik, Matthias Daenschel, Jeremiah Day & Alisa Margolis, Christina Dimitriadis, discoteca flaming star, Christoph Draeger & Heidrun Holzfeind, Sam Durant & Ana Prvački, Övül Ö. Durmusoglu & Eva Wein ft. Rirkrit Tiravanija, Knut Eckstein, Theo Eshetu, Olaf Grawert & Gábor Kocsis, Jan Peter Hammer, Heinz Havemeister, Hannah Hurtzig, Stine Marie Jacobsen & Teobaldo Lagos Preller, Monika Jarecka, Anne Duk Hee Jordan & Pauline Doutreluingne, Christoph Keller, Joanna Kusiak and Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen, Matylda Krzykowski, Sonja Lau, Michelle-Marie Letelier, Antonia Low & Tommy Støckel, Kamila Metwaly & Max Schneider, Markus Miessen & Lena Mahr, Tom McCarthy & Eva Stenram, Müller Dreimalklingeln & Joke Lanz, Olaf Nicolai, Pınar Öğrenci, LAGE EGAL & Irène Hug, Andrea Pichl, Marta Popivoda & Ana Vujanović, Prater Galerie/x-embassy, Matheus Rocha Pitta, David Rych, Harry Sachs & Ini Dill / Daniel Drabek, Susanne Sachsse & Marc Siegel, Eva Scharrer ft. Ayşe Erkmen, Isabella Sedeka, Antje Stahl & Felix-Emeric Tota, Nasan Tur, Raul Walch, Joanna Warsza & Florian Malzacher, Arts of the Working Class, Christine Würmell, Dolores Zinny & Juan Maidagan …

It has been a year, and what a year it has been. Here we are, still in the middle of the pandemic with no clear end on the horizon. We have improved at slowing down, seeing things in larger detail, fulfilling daily routines, falling into everyday traps, and grieving. We have also become more aware of the places where we live, and of how we share common air. Die Balkone, for the second time, invites members of the artistic community in Prenzlauer Berg to activate their windows and balconies with signs of life, art, connection, or isolation. Last year’s edition grew like a snowball from a spontaneous neighbourhood project; spawning nearby versions in Kreuzberg or further in Paris, Stockholm, Santiago de Chile, São Paulo, or Taipei. Wherever we go, we are all neighbors to someone.
This time, in addition to the more than thirty artistic installations spilling from the domestic into the public, the second iteration of Die Balkone scratches another surface by exploring the complicated image of the place we live: Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district. Many prejudices are projected on the area—some with good reason. It is generally a privileged zone, a gentrified terrain shaped around the needs of the nuclear family, such as ice cream parlors, wellness studios, and organic food markets. But other worlds exist here as well; ones that don’t fit this picture between shame and comfort.
Prenzlauer Berg has been and is home to many cultural workers, both German and international, with an astonishing number of prolific artists per square meter. The quarter also has an important history of East German underground and dissident culture, where the notions of public, private, common, and shared were blurred and complex. Die Balkone addresses those various idiosyncrasies and realities from the current residents’ perspectives.
Besides the windows and balconies, this year’s exhibition will also take place at the Ernst Thälmann monument—one of the few that remained from the GDR era, as per the locals’ wishes—with a project by Sam Durant and Ana Prvački. We will also dive into domestic and artistic archives with the art historian Sarah Alberti and graphic designer Grischa Meyer, who revisit parts of the 1990 historical public art exhibition ‘Die Endlichkeit der Freiheit.’ The third project highlights the immediate post-Wall era in an apartment where another nomadic resident, Rirkrit Tiravanija, lived at the time. Finally we are also happy to collaborate with the Prater Galerie, an important place for the East German art scene since 1967.
A year later, the curiosity for our neighborhood is not satisfied. We are ready for Die Balkone’s second iteration with the same and new contributors, in the same and new places. Die Balkone becomes a cyclical calendar exhibition, a temperature-check marking time from the beginning of the pandemic, and a situated exercise for art as a form of recovery, social glue, and point of connection. Die Balkone is also an invitation to reflect on the translocal status of many Berlin cultural workers, negotiating something the pandemic has taught us: the interdependence between the very local and the global, the inside and the outside, the digital and the analogue, somewhere on the edge of a balcony.

Funded by Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.
Project partner: Art of Working Class