Rita António
I am from Berlin

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With great affection, Rita António holds up a mirror to the people of Berlin. With an eye on ethnography, António explores the subtle differences that define Berlin and its inhabitants. She drew and narrated her experiences and observations in a 30-page comic book. António has enlarged individual drawings from the book for the exhibition. Part of her presentation is also a map of Berlin, which forms the cover of the book, as it were. The book contains black-and-white drawings, drawings rich in color, and drawings in only one color.

Rita António – „I am from Berlin“

The starting point of her explorations were conversations, walks, and her tireless curiosity about everyday life in Berlin. In doing so, the illustrator and graphic designer emphasizes that she has sometimes fallen hard for the clichés and stereotypes that characterize Berlin.
A recurring experience is the way cash is handled in Berlin. In one comic, a couple is enjoying a meal in a restaurant. When they wish to pay, they discover that the restaurant only accepts cash payments. The male figure straps on his rucksack and heads out on his adventure, after telling his girlfriend that she should not wait for him, and that he loves her. He trudges through heat, rain, and snow until he finally stops at an ATM to joyfully hold banknotes in his hands.
The artist’s observations in a supermarket also hover between everyday life and stereotypes, as each customer is made aware of the beginning and end of their purchases when the “product divider” is laid on the conveyer belt.

In her book, António takes the opportunity to portray different characters, personalities, and moods of Berlin’s city life in each comic. Other specific Berlin behaviors that António depicts narratively in her comics include the Berliners‘ adherence to the rules, such as waiting for the green signal at a crosswalk, even when no vehicle is in sight, a stark contrast to the behavior of other big-city dwellers. Berlin’s administration is also famous and infamous for the way it works. António depicts their working methods in a comic strip that deals with the obsession with paper and the rigidity of Berlin’s bureaucracy. António brings a wry grin to the faces of Berliners with her depiction of their avoidance of small talk by keeping conversations going with the word “genau,” meaning “exactly.”

In a Schöneberg street view, António shows a demonstration procession in front of large-scale street art. The counterpart to the public space used for politics is what António sees as a typical Berlin interior: A large room, very sparsely furnished with a chair on which a book by gender theorist Judith Butler is placed. The different characters represent many places and situations of life in a metropolitan area.

At the same time, the comics are always subjective views and experiences of a woman who grew up in Portugal. The finely drawn images and the narrative interpretation facilitate the viewer’s sense of being part of subjective perceptions. At the same time, and therein lies the tension of the book, the comics analyze Berlin’s peculiarities very humorously and with great precision.

Text: Dr. Silke Förschler

About Rita António

As a Fresh A.I.R. #5 fellow, Rita António explores and studies Berlin through the eyes of a migrant, a traveler. In her illustrations and comics, Rita deals with the habits of Berliners and cliché images that exist about them – always with a humorous eye.

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Fresh A.I.R. #5 Online-Showcase

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.

learn more about the Online-Showcase