THE TASTE OF ADDICTION
CUPS, CAPSULES, RECIPES AND THE TALE OF YEMENI COFFEE
On Sunday noon, the 8th of November 2015, the agency Bernheimer Contemporary Art Solutions and Projects will open its new exhibition “The Taste of Addiction – Cups, Capsules, Recipes and the Tale of Yemeni Coffee” on the topic of coffee and art within the net of international socio-political entanglements. Coffee and coffee-culture in this context constitute a symbol for this world’s political and social grievances, which are being expressed by the participating artists Ibi Ibrahim, Jan Kuck, Dirk Biotto and Victor Alaluf in different ways. It is hereby a concern of the artists and the agency to call attention to human rights issues and the work of the organisation Human Rights Watch Germany.
The focus of the exhibition is on Ibi Ibrahim, an emerging American-Yemenite artist who currently lives in Berlin as the political situation in Yemen does not allow him to return to his home. He was brought to Isabel Bernheimer’s attention by Human Rights Watch director Wenzel Michalski, with whom she had developed a constructive dialogue in the course of their successful donation activities from the proceeds of the exhibition “Who Cares? Social Responsibility in Contemporary Art” in July 2015.
The works of the interdisciplinary artist show a strong connection and influence from the circumstances and conditions in his native country. His photographs which touch upon taboos of the Islamic world by handling controversial issues such as religion, homosexuality, gender identity and feminism openly, gained him the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) award. The medium of his abstract paintings shown in this exhibition is Yemenite coffee, one of the most valued and originally most important assets of the country. It was in Yemen where coffee was discovered and cultivated in the 15th century, the town Mocha even gave its name to a special seed.
But even though the region has various unique coffee beans, it is one of the lowest-ranked countries in producing and exporting coffee, due to its replacement by narcotics and war. Ibrahim’s artwork expresses his personal anger about these inequities.
The agency’s consigned artists also concern themselves with the subject of coffee as a cultural good. Jan Kuck’s gold bars “Black Gold”, made from Nespresso capsules embedded in special resin, ironically point out the true value of the capsules that are being branded and sold as luxury goods in the capitalistic Western world, which are in no relation to their price. He moreover criticises the waste and environmental pollution that this product causes. In his series “Loss” constituting of manually finished infographics,
Dirk Biotto also illustrates global political and geo-economic defects in a visually appealing yet informative and innovative manner. The Jewish artist of Argentinian origin, Victor Alaluf, takes the theme of coffee to a deeper level: In his piece “Bittersweet”, a golden skull thrones on the cream topping of a coffee cup. Its title describes the characteristic taste of the beverage. Here, Alaluf confronts the perception of death in different cultures.
Coffee, the stimulant and consumer good which has in many cases caused economic and ecological exploitation, in this exhibition used as a transnational and –cultural theme becomes a vital link between nations and history. In Berlin, Isabel Bernheimer as the agent of Jewish descent brings together artists from different national backgrounds to work together cooperatively, creatively and constructively through cultural exchange.
Again in this exhibition, it is an important matter to the artists and Bernheimer Contemporary to create awareness of human rights issues and the work of the organisation Human Rights Watch Germany and donate 10% of the total revenue of this exhibition to the NGO.
A supporting programme will accompany the exhibition, commencing with a Yemeni Salon on the 21st of October, for which the popular Israeli-Yemenite Band A-WA will be present at the space of the agency at Monbijoustraße 2.