Recognised for his delicate porcelain vessels meticulously arranged in carefully composed groups displayed in vitrines or shelves, Edmund de Waal creates his own dialogue between tradition and modernity, blank spaces and opulence, minimalism and architecture. His unique ceramic objects, coloured in subtle nuances and irregularly shaped, form the base of his installations and combine ideas of repetition, rhythm and composition with references to literature and music.
De Waal first came to know the city of Berlin through the writings of Walter Benjamin, particularly his autobiographical fragments in A Berlin Childhood around 1900. The exhibition title, Irrkunst, has been taken from Benjamin’s concept of the art of getting lost, the art of noticing what has been disregarded.
In the Bleibtreustrasse gallery, offering a room with a view on Walter Benjamin’s former school, the artist will show works that reflect Benjamin’s childhood, his passion for gathering objects and the idea of collecting as memory work. Here, amongst others, de Waal will present a major new series of vitrines. Furthermore, a selection of original notes and manuscripts from the Walter Benjamin archive in Berlin will be on view at Bleibtreustrasse and illustrate Benjamin’s own way of working as well as de Waal’s deep fascination with the œuvre of this thinker.
In the second venue at Goethestrasse – a former post office – de Waal will explore ideas of departure and loss through one large-scale installation in wood and porcelain, a response to the space being for things gone astray, the undeliverable. Moreover, Goethestrasse will include a temporary library of writings by and about Walter Benjamin, where visitors will be able to read and reflect.