Salon Kato Six
Essay by Yvonne Reiners:
The salon of ABA resident Kato Six (*1986, lives and works in Brussels and Amsterdam) was a journey to a place where history can speak. It started with the invitation via email, which noted that : „Everyone should bring an object that links him or her to GDR history, we will take this as a conversation tool.“ Further below Kato Six wrote: „From the margins of architecture and our daily environment I research objects and the place they have in our lives. For this ABA salon trivial items like personal belongings, souvenirs, or functional objects will be the starting point; from there, we will take a walk through the building and the residency apartment itself to discover the more neglected objects along the way“.
I was hooked by this and started to research Kato and her work. I found out that she always uses a very individual experience as starting point. She casts her memory into prototypical shapes and basic constructions and considers the imagined, memorized space to be a heterotopy.
On Sunday the 6 th of July 2014 at 7 pm around 10 people met at the residency at 2 Memhardstrasse, Berlin. After the initial ‘hellos’, we started with a tour through the building. Kato designed a map of the so-called „Riegel“, a GDR building close to Alexanderplatz, made with pre-cast concrete slabs. In the beginning, the search for the marked symbols on the map felt a bit like a scavenger hunt, but after a while a lively conversation started. The salon participants started to delve in the artists ́ thoughts, tried to reconstruct Kato ́s perspective and began to search not only for Kato ́s objects of interest, but also for their own. We found old glassy lamp shades and a gold-colored door opener, ragged wall paintings and depressing, narrow fire escapes. After this collective experience we visited Kato ́s studio in the below floor of her maisonette. She showed us the works that she was currently working on and we recognized some objects that we had bumped into during our tour a few moments before.
Being doubly “inside” – inside this impressive historical GDR building and part of the small group of salon guests, we felt involved in Katos “thinking space”. Back in the big open-plan-kitchen, a screening of “L’objet”, a video by Belgian multimedia artist Jacques-Louis Nyst were shown: ‘The discovery of a child’s toy: a small blue metallic coffee pot, presents a complete enigma to an archaeologist of the future. The scientist no longer has any information at his disposal on Twentieth Century civilization. Patiently he attempts to unveil the significance of the object. His imagination, which distances itself from historic truth, progressively enters into a dream state, in which tenderness and fragility are the only reality.’
The film was really humorous and made for a close atmosphere. But it also questioned the discourse about the production of knowledge in a complex way. As Heinz von Förster said: “The world, as we perceive it, is our own invention“. In the general context of this salon, the film was a method to teach us to tolerate a certain ambiguity. We thought together about the origins of Kato Six ́s contemporary space concepts, but all our views investigated from a personal perspective. The screening inspired a discourse about contemporary ethnology and about “artists-as-treasure-hunters” and finally lead to the inter-exchange of our brought objects. Every salon participant told a little story about his GDR artefact and in so doing we found out much more about the person that brought the object, than about the object itself. That intimacy was the basis for a really interesting, concentrated debate about the Cold War and about documentations, rumours and supposed knowledge under Socialism. After a while the talk started to strew about the room, became more and more private conversation and this salon transmuted once again, from informal to amicable.
I would like to compare my experience at this salon with the reflective surface of the water in a pond. If I want to experience more depth then I have to look through the water. Here I can discover the living, iridescent essence of the pond that is hidden under the surface.