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A tale of two pyramids

Two pyramids: one monumental, publicly-funded, consumable, obscene; the other intimate, untouchable, reflective, self-funded and self-exhibited. In the same week in Berlin, these two pyramid installations took a similar theme, but spun it in very different directions.

The first was exhibited last Monday by the emerging artists’ network Una Tittel. They took as their inspiration the Greek myth of Tantalus, who was cursed by the gods to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree, but denied the ability to either eat or drink. To represent the never-consumable object of desire, Una Tittel artists Kate Mackeson and Linda Green constructed a pyramid of apples, 100 kilos in weight, standing just over half a meter high. Instead of vying for space in a public gallery, the artists utilized their own living room. The public was invited to attend their Neukölln apartment to view, but not touch, a carefully constructed pile of shiny red fruit.

The second variation on the theme came on Saturday evening, when megastar artist Cyprien Gaillard revealed his latest work; a gargantuan pyramid made of beer boxes at the renowned KW Institute of Contemporary Art. Here, the public was invited to indulge in their gluttony by climbing on to the pyramid, and drinking as much beer as they desired. The evening descended into a degenerate display of public vulgarity as the pyramid was pulled apart bottle-by-bottle. Rather than consumption, Gaillard sought to comment on the relocation of monuments. Gaillard’s pyramid, entitled The Recovery of Discovery, was paid for with a large endowment from the Haupstadtkulturfonds (Capital Cultural Funds).

While sharing a similar central object, the two exhibitions sit on opposite ends of a spectrum of approach, interpretation and presentation.