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Two works in the generally excellent warum! exhibition at the Martin Gropius Bau stand out. Patrick Tosani’s “Geographie” series is a set of large photos of the mottled tops of snare drums. The marks left from long usage turn each of the drums into a unique moonscape that tells a silent story of years of noise. Dennis Adams’ “Outtake” is one extended shot of the frame-by-frame, hand-to-hand sidewalk distribution of stills from Ulrike Meinhof’s long-suppressed film “Bambule.” The images, which show a chase down a corridor and are fascinating even before you know the history behind them, and the simple method in which they are conveyed to passerby and later to us in the documentation of this act seem both to disrupt the normal methods of cinematic conveyance and the usual reading of the Meinhof’s later, more notorious history. Through August 3rd.

Not quite as unsettling but just as arresting is Ortec’s street-level display of samples of rail track segments in Cologne’s Eigelstein district. Arranged behind a pair of glass doors that once served as the main entrance to the Ortec’s office, the display is intended to show the company wares but lacks the assurance of a normal product showcase or the verve derived from some other intended purpose. Despite such fetching names as “Whisper Rail,” “Acoustical Loadmaster,” and “VIBRALast,” and liberal use of yellows and reds in the samples themselves, the products look less like components of a solid rail network and more like slabs of meat. The overall feeling is one of great unease, as if the sell-by date for those cuts was fast approaching. Open 24 hours a day, more or less indefinitely.

- Ed Osborn [Thursday, June 26th, 2003]

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