Berlin: an art hub that can even be overwhelming!
With 400 galleries and 6000 artists settled here, Berlin art scene definitely has a lot to offer all year round, but I am pretty sure that you spent this last week having art for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
If you are not into arts, do not even consider the chance of visiting the German capital in mid September. The closing of the Biennale comes together with the growing and ever more appreciated Berlin Art Week, causing a chaotic overlapping of different events. From private parties on rooftops to open air concerts, from opening cocktails in former train stations to casual exhibitions, you wouldn’t be able to find a hang out spot without stumbling upon an artistic crowd.
Berlin Biennale, curated by the New York based collective DIS, closed its doors last Sunday, the 18th of September, leaving in its wake different questions about the post-digital development. Admitting that visual art in video form tends not to be my thing, I still found interesting points in the different locations. Just to name a couple of artists, from the KW for Contemporary Art, I would like to bring back into focus the collage prints by Lucie Stahl and the installation of Shawn Maximo, who renovated a bathroom of the building to create the perfect setting for projecting his work on the screen.
At the ground floor of the majestic Akademie der Künste, my mind was blown by the great piece by the conceptual artist Adrian Piper: invited by a sign with the artist’s biography, the visitor walks down a couple of steps and instinctively tries to open the closed door. The door is but locked and I found myself staring at the door, where a sign of no entry reports the letters of Howdy. This simple yet limiting obstacle forces the to observer reflect on conventional limits and social determinants.
Walking up the floors of this great architectural masterpiece you’ll find a continuum of new visual and audio inputs and, like always in video arts, the visitor should offer their own trust to the artist and commit their time to taking in the creations.
A nice surprise was that after enjoying the animal-eating-animal sculptures of Jon Rafman (The Swallower Swallowed) on the sunny balcony of the top floor, the visitors found themselves taken back into the darkness of the underground floor to watch the projection and installation of Hito Steyerl.
But this is just a tiny slice of the cake that is Berlin’s art scene in September, and you should be ready to wear your gag, since you will probably get dirty!
During the Berlin Art Week, you indeed have to accept that you can’t make it to be everywhere, so do your best to select your spots-to-be and stick to that schedule. The 5th edition of this this project, which is becoming more international each year, has also been expanding it’s audience and gaining more supporters. The two main pillars of the event are undoubtedly the art fairs, ABC Contemporary and Positions.
While ABC collects subscriptions from interesting and mostly well known galleries, gathering them at Gleisdreick, the youngest Berlin art fair, Positions moved this year to the beautiful venue of Postbahnhof am Ostbahnhof. 74 galleries joined the fair, distributing the stands and the seemingly interesting selling prospects.
Funny to say, at Position you are welcomed in a courtyard where you can get a burrito or a mango lassi, but you don’t have to wait for the actual art to show up. On the second floor my eyes were drawn to the provocative and colorful works of Anja Fussbach and Kinki Texas, both represented by the Galerie Gerken. The perfect aesthetic of dolls’ bodies became literally mutilated and conceptually shattered by dark and material alterations of the Fussbach’s mixed media creations.
If daytime is not enough for your soul to be immersed in art, don’t worry: you can always take part in the evening and night events, such as the Gallery Night and (slightly more niched) 13 hours movie marathon by the International Kino on Karl Marx Allee. And if you want to discover new and hidden locations, you can also personally visit artists’ studios, like the one of the Japanese Chiharu Shiota at Potsdamer Strasse, though I can imagine them to be pretty busy.
Every art event bearing this name couldn’t close without a proper award ceremony: at Berlinische Galerie, Andreas Greiner was awarded with the GASAG Art Prize (at its 4th edition), to celebrate its innovative position on the borderlines between art and science.
Different project spaces won The Project Space Art Award, like Errant Bodies — Sound art space, Kulturpalast Wedding International, Neue Berliner Räume, just to name a few.
So after this overwhelming week packed with art, fairs, artists, openings, vernissages and finissages, projections and project spaces, prizes and installations, you can finally breathe a sigh of relief from culture and commit yourself to some healthy shopping, dropping onto your cozy couch for a relaxing online shopping experience.