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Sebastiaan Bremer’s ink-covered photos at Barbara Thumm are part scrapbook recollections, part notepad doodle, and all seductively ephemeral. Look for them or something suspiciously like them in an advertising campaign near you soon. Carsten Nicolai’s closeup photos of sparks at Eigen + Art are equally ephemeral, but beyond the first beautiful flash of electricity in each image there seems to be something not fully illuminating about them: the more you look it seems the less you see.

But around the corner at griedervonputtkamer Britta Lumer’s self-portraits with closed eyes makes the act of looking at them seem like an intimate gift that allows you to see everything. Combined with drawings and watercolors of childhood photos, clouds, and a few low-lying buildings, the show is delicately personal, quietly radiant, and easily the most flat-out gorgeous exhibition I have seen all year.

Just around the corner from there, alas, such thoughts ideas are located in another universe as local university students have been staging protest actions in response to plans by the city government to cut 75 million euros from the annual education budget by 2009 and impose tuition fees. Among the more novel approaches to getting public attention were holding classes in the middle of the Friedrichstrasse train station, conducting a 72-hour physics lecture outdoors at Potsdamer Platz, and setting up camp at the Nordic embassies building claiming “educational asylum.” So far, the budgetmeisters in the Berlin Senat remain unimpressed.

- Ed Osborn [Saturday, December 6th, 2003]

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