«Hello, Spaceboy»
The «Universal Metabolism» exhibition at Kraftwerk Mitte 
Thomas Oberender

Between the two festival weekends of the Atonal Festival for Sound Art at Berlin’s Kraftwerk Mitte, an exhibition with a duration of four days was held for the first time on all floors of the former cogeneration plant and its 8000 square metres of event space, which was both lavishly short and lavishly rich.  

As a prelude, a free-standing installation of six tapestries by the artist Livia Melzi beamed at its visitors from the darkness of the hall, a glimpse of hell as designed by European illustrators in the 16th century, when they set the accounts of sea voyagers and missionaries from the New World and their encounters with indigenous cultures in terrifying images showing people torturing and eating people. These black and white historical engravings woven into fabric say more about our own view today than they do about these cultures, and they lead directly into the theme of the exhibition, Universal Metabolism, the metabolism of our species, which is part of a much larger Gaia organism that also digests us. 

Just beyond the carpets is an area covered in rubble stones in the dim light of the windowless hall. A moment later, it is bathed in a mild working light and, amidst the stones, one sees the artist Bridget Polk building column-like sculptures from these rubble before the visitors’ eyes. Their individual components are held together only by gravity. We know this from the small pebble pyramids on the beach or mountains, but Bridget Polk’s material comes from the ruins of human buildings. She places bricks, railing columns and concrete blocks on edge and stacks them high. This creates a magical standstill of objects and watching Bridget Polk perform these balancing acts is a glimpse into the artist’s workshop and at the same time a performance and meditation.