Guilia Berra Kunstwerk

Giulia Berra
„Natural Topography“ (2021)

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The assertion has repeatedly been made that art could offer solutions for society. During the Corona pandemic of 2020/21, it has also been said that art could heal, console, and unite people across borders. However, as tempting as these promises are, they have frequently proven to be equally empty phrases. In this context, it is refreshing when artists do not approach us with grand gestures and bombastic speeches at all—as in the case of Italian artist Giulia Berra. During her Fresh A.I.R. residency, she wanted to explore Berlin on foot and develop her artworks on this basis. Directly before coming to the German capital in October 2020, she spent several months in an Italian region hit particularly hard by the pandemic. In Berlin the next lockdown was already looming. Anyone concluding that a person would have to be creative in a situation like this has presumably never been creative.

Giulia Berra – „Natural Topography“ (2020/21) | Video: YES, AND… productions GmbH & Co. KG

In this city so famous for a wall, Berra responded by building precisely that, entitling her work The Wall. She gathered fallen twigs for it in the Tiergarten, carried them to her studio, and used them to construct an object resembling a reed fence. She lived with this porous and fragile, approximately 7×2 meter boundary for seven weeks. Extending diagonally across the room, it blocked Berra’s access to the windows, and she was forced to endure the emptiness of the space behind it (something also known as horror vacui in the context of art). Her feeling of being locked was thus further intensified. Using a natural material, she had created a situation that seemed entirely unnatural to her, but which she nonetheless had to endure. In this way, she artistically captured a feeling that presumably crept over many of us during the pandemic period, but only a few could express. The photographs and Berra’s numerous drawings and sketches are a witness not just to this object, but also to this emotion.

Another work also deals with bearing witness. And here again, what occupies Berra is human beings’ relationship with the environment around them and with each other. Die Zeugen (The witnesses) is the title of her site-specific installation. It consists of twelve cone-shaped objects that the artist made out of untreated, brown raffia fiber. The individual elements, some of which are larger than life-size, have been arranged into a group. Each object consists of bast fibers that run vertically and are fixed to a series of rings of varying diameter before converging in a point at the top. The intractable nature of the material invests the figures with a vital and dynamic quality, as if they were growing out of the ground. The artifact known as the Berlin Gold Hat inspired the artist to create this work. This Bronze Age headgear was presumably used in the context of cultic or religious rituals. However, its form can also be found in numerous other cultures as a cultic, decorative, or utilitarian object. Even the Christmas tree has a similar silhouette. The form is thus present and accessible in the cultural history of the world—just as the material used for her objects (fiber made from palm leaves) is to be found in nature. As a result, the installation is not only site-specific, but also global, and it develops its own distinctive poetry that touches viewers and draws them under its spell.

Engaging with locally available and natural resources also provides the point of departure for the series of drawings entitled Green Doors. Impressed by Berlin’s vegetation, Berra took several photos of spontaneously growing plants: plants that sow their own seeds and thus emerge—suddenly, so to speak—between sidewalk slabs, in open areas, or in unused flower beds. Berra developed these into oil pastel drawings, which she cut out and hung on the doors of four buildings in Berlin-Schöneberg. The street thus became a kind of herbarium, a botanical collection. Berra wanted to draw the attention of the people living there to those little, unremarkable things in their surroundings that briefly emerge and then disappear again—similarly to her drawings, which were only fleetingly pinned in place. She then drew the doors with the drawings: These images bear witness to the artist’s action, which, like the plants, was itself ephemeral. Berra uses her artistic practice to track down phenomena that are unremarkable but full of meaning and can stimulate diverse thoughts and emotions. This is precisely what creativity is.

Text: Kea Wienand

About Giulia Berra

Giulia Berra (1985), lives and works in Cremona, Italy. She exhibits in group and solo shows in Italy and abroad, developing projects deeply connected with architecture and historic contexts. According to her artistic, scientific and humanistic background, she focuses on the relationships between man and environment, heritage and contemporary, human and natural landscape. Berra develops new visions to investigate the space from a bio-inspired and empathic perspective.

For more information: Website I Facebook Instagram

Fresh A.I.R. #4 Online-Showcase

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The Online-Showcase offers an opportunity to get an overview of the highly diverse projects of the fourth class of Fresh A.I.R. artists with their different kinds of media and aesthetics.

On view are video and photographic materials about the individual projects, each of which is accompanied by an explanatory text that aims to offer insights into the work’s aesthetic experience.

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