“A living permanent exhibition that always offers something new”

Last round (for now) for the art vending machine

It is one of our museum’s little success stories: this year will see the art vending machine’s fifth (and, for now, last) tour of duty in the permanent exhibition. After five years “Art from the Vending Machine” will have sold over 12,250 works. Maren Krüger, curator of the permanent exhibition, explains its achievement thus: “We know that visitors enjoy taking something away with them, that they like surprises and are interested in the present time. In addition, we want a permanent exhibition that’s alive, that always offers something new. That’s how the concept emerged.”

Seven women in front of the art vending machine

The artists of the fifth round of the art vending machine; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

As with all projects that work well, a number of people were involved. First of all, there’s Christiane Bauer, our former colleague who supplied the idea. She was inspired by the art vending machines at the Kunsttick Agency, which can now be found all over Germany. In fact, while searching online for a suitable model, she came upon an old vending machine from the 70s that stood in a sports center in the Rhineland-Palatinate province. First though, it had to be transported to Berlin…
To read the whole story, check out Christiane Bauer’s first blog post about the art vending machine.

The current round of works for the vending machine features the motto: “Summer of Strong Women”. It will thus hardly be a surprise that all the objects the machine is selling have been created by female artists. Nearly all of them are from Israel and all of them have a connection to the city of Berlin. In their art these women grapple with such topics as Jewish traditions, Israel, belonging, and homeland. The result is a colorful mix of items which are extraordinary not just in their materiality but also in their meaning.

Here’s a brief overview of the artworks and artists:

Born in Richon LeZion, Keren Shalev was interested as she developed her work in the question, “What does it mean to receive a souvenir?” or rather “How do visitors look at souvenirs?” She calls her object Organic Souvenir. It is intended to help visitors hold on to a certain moment or feeling that they had while at the museum.

The art vending machine in the permanent exhibition.

Our pride and joy – the art vending machine in the permanent exhibition; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

Shai Keren, a product designer who’s been in Berlin for three years, contributed two works: 1) a dreidel that you can attach to the rim of your wine glass to mark that it’s yours, and 2) a little cloth bag with a variety of different stylized things printed on it. The label on the bag says alte Sachen (“old things”), which is tantamount in Yiddish to “second-hand articles”.

“I want everyone to smile when they look at my artworks,” says Yifah Raz. The Israeli artist created a most unusual ice cream on a stick with her Popsicle FORnEVER. Made of concrete, it is, as Raz points out, “good forever” — meaning it will maintain its form — but at the same time it’s “never good”, as in, forever inedible. In her FORnEVER series the artist points to the human need to hold onto things, whether a particular time period, a certain moment, or one’s own youth. In fact though, everything alive has, she reminds us, an “expiration date”.

A peculiarity of Shimrit Kalish’s photographs is that she depicts her own dreams. For her series Foreign Land the artist photographed only models from abroad which led to five different subjects emerging in the work: one, for instance, shows an interpretation of Moses on the hills of Jerusalem.

With her objet d’art The Black Tablets of Commandments, Alona Rodeh offers visitors the opportunity to write down entirely personal edicts. Whether they need a full ten is up to them. Since nothing here is being chiseled into stone, the owner of each handy little slab can wipe away what they’ve written periodically and start anew.

Shira Orion’s artwork partitions her own experiences into Past and Present. Surreal images printed in a leporello manner show the artist’s recollections from her (old) home of Israel as well as more recent impressions from her (new) home of Berlin.

female hand pulls out obect of the art vending machine

“Pulling art” out of the vending machine; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

The poem whispering home provides the nucleus of Adi Liraz’s item. The interdisciplinary artist wrote it first on her own body, then photographed it and through an elaborate process printed the picture on old bed linens. The question of home, of one’s own homeland, is something that she has been working on for a long time. In Berlin since 2003, the Israeli Liraz has observed over time that the Hebrew language has more and more come to represent “home” for her.

In her work Maja Gratzfeld cut up a picture into 500 individual pieces. Each visitor who pulls a piece of the puzzle from the art vending machine will take it home, wherever that may be. Each puzzle piece has a code. If the piece’s owner enters the code at the site http://www.the-dispersal-project.com/, they will unlock their particular piece and be able see it online. When all the puzzle pieces have been activated, the whole picture will become visible. Originally from Saarlouis in Germany’s Saarland province, Gratzfeld intended with her the dispersal project to create an artistic diaspora. Each piece of the puzzle symbolizes an individual who has moved from his or her place of origin to another place. All the pieces belong to one whole that connects them. If some of the pieces remain inactivated, you will see white patches on the image: they stand for the disappearance of customs, traditions, and languages that a diaspora inevitably brings with it.

Has your interest been sparked? Would you like to pull one of these fascinating objects out of our art vending machine? The opportunity is there until December 10. Until that date the machine will remain at the familiar spot in our permanent exhibition next to the Schteh Café , at the passage by the staircase from the first to the second level of the exhibition.

We wish you a wonderful time “pulling artwork” and an interesting visit to the exhibition!

At the press appointment with the artists blog editor David Studniberg unexpectedly received a little gift souvenir: Milk FORnEVER, a plastic cup with a splash of “concrete milk”, which now has its own special spot in his office.

Click here for more on the art vending machine as well as photos of the current artworks:

You can also read about why the art vending machine will only be open to the public until December 10 here:

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