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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Berlinnocence Lost, Part I

We asked Cyril Duval—aka item idem—to tell us all about his first trip to Berlin...

On my way to the Netherlands to accept a Great Indoors Award for my design of Bernhard Willhelm's Tokyo flagship [see Hint's store report, April '06], I decided to stop over in Berlin to take in two art shows by friends Terence Koh and Bruce LaBruce. I wasn't prepared, however, to be welcomed by snow and a 20-degree temperature drop from what I'm used to in my home of Tokyo. Shame on me for bringing nothing heavier than a simple jacket. So I borrowed an Abominable Snowman coat to weather the weather.

Having missed the September opening of "Blame Canada," a gallery show by Terence and Bruce inspired by Twin Peaks, I wouldn't miss the closing party at Bang Bang, a well-named bar and large-scale installation at Peres Projects Berlin, in the Kreutzberg area. As neither Terence (out of town) nor Bruce (in town, but uber-busy on something else—see below) could make it, I went with Hanayo, the ultimate German goddess-guide. Hanayo and I became very good friends in Tokyo a while back and we have many friends in common, such as Michel Gaubert, who discovered her when she famously covered "Joe le Taxi." Hanayo and I even have our own invisible band. She knows all about Berlin and who's in town at any given moment. And she has that little extra je ne sais quoi that makes everyone go totally crazy for her.

Hanayo [left] and I arrived to a dark space with black-latex-covered walls (a Terence trademark? It did remind me of "God," his antichrist installation at de Pury & Luxembourg in Zurich) and I was struck by how insane the place was, anchored by a giant metal dance floor recalling Michael Jackson's sidewalk-tapping Billie Jean video. But here the tiles were all black, conveying pure darkness—no lights or smoke, just a ladder leading up to the second floor on the ceiling. For a long time I've known about Bruce and Terence's idea of a backroom with glory holes placed horizontally—imagine manhoods in stalagmite/stalactite formation—and here it was right in front of me, but without the flesh of opening night.

With people dancing maniacally around me, I managed to make it to the bar, where I got a Twin Peaks flash. Suddenly I was in Laura Palmer's worst nightmare, except there was no red-velvet curtain from which Bob, her killer, might pop out, just a bar heavily decorated with trophy animal heads, upside-down oil paintings, weapons and other fetish hunting curiosities. To me, the bar became the core piece, or at least the one directing the overall concept. And then, someone whispered to me, "Terence Koh—he is Armageddon!"

To Be Continued...

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