Gallery hopping: Kreuzberg

Berlin is a city of art; the abundant graffiti contains some of the best work to be seen on this globe, roughly one out of four people you talk to in a bar is working on a certain artistic endeavour and the (incomplete) map of the “Landesverband Berliner Galerien” lists about 130 galleries and institutions. Compiling a shortlist of galleries thus makes for a great alternative way to get to know a neighbourhood, which is one of my many plans for the next few months. Let’s start close to home and go for a Kreuzberg run.

The first galleries that anyone will tell you about in XBerg are the ones embedded in the Aufbau Haus complex on Moritzplatz. However, the art on display there is of a more generic and rather outdated nature. The current Alfred Ullrich expo in Kai Dikhas, for example, aims to criticise consumerism by presenting lines of washing powder on a silver plate. Been there, seen that, so let’s consider the Prince Charles club to be the main attraction of the complex and turn to other places.

Even though the Oranienstrasse is mostly known as the epicentre of bar and (fast)food in Kreuzberg; there are some daytime gems to be delighted over as well. The “Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst” (ngbk) has a surprisingly big artspace connected to a bookshop at number 25. Currently on display is “The Ultimate Capital is the Sun”, an exhibit that investigates the endless exchange between human life and its surroundings. A journey through different media makes that not all pieces will please one visitor, but that there’s definitely something for everyone to gaze at. Personally, I spent the majority of my time with Sun Xun’s video installation “Some Actions Which Haven’t Been Defined yet in the Revolution”, a dark animation short which lets the small horrors of daily life develop into monstrous nightmares over a doom-laden industrial soundscape: driller dentists with disembowlment backrooms, a guy with a deformed face eating caterpillars and regurgitating them as scorpions, … The eerie atmosphere lingers over more mundane activities such as getting out of bed in the morning or boredom masturbation, and makes the trivial suddenly also look uncanny.

A five-minute walk from ngbk, at Dresdener Strasse 18, you will find Galerie Maifoto, where photographer Ute Langkafel shows her works. In this cosy place you currently see a series called “Reclaim Your City”, in which she wants to reinstitute a personalised view on major metropoles. The visions of New York, Vancouver, Cairo, Berlin, … are of an intriguing nature: in many of them, it takes some time to discover a point of reference that can link the picture to a certain city. Should it not be for the inclusion of the Möbel Olfe, the dark and rainy nightscape would never be situated in the bustling heart of Kreuzberg. Each picture has its own individual feeling and emotion, yet after a while the locations themselves seem to become interchangeable as it’s not the place but the eyes through which you look at it that becomes the defining characteristic.

As a climax, cross the water and make your way to Schönleinstrasse 5, where Rockelmann & has the works of the Austrian Klaus Pichler on display till November 15th. His series “Just The Two Of Us” investigates the tradition of dressing up in our current society. Pichler shows people dressed up in a costume of their choice (and making) in their own surroundings. The costume turns them into someone else, the interior reinstitutes their own personality and the link between the two of them establishes a remarkable connection. That the subject dressed as a unicorn is portrayed in a pristine white bathroom with golden faucets is not a surprise. Each picture shows an individual who is not hiding behind a mask but granting you a look into their personality. Should you not be able to drop by the gallery, a publication linked to the expo is for sale and definitely recommended.

Links: http://www.aufbauhaus.de, http://www.ngbk.de, http://maifoto.de, http://rockelmann-and.com; http://kpic.at

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