It’s that time of year again. With the eruption of exhibition openings that the last week has brought, the air is thick with anticipation, as we gear up for the return of Berlin Art Week. In it’s fourth year running, the event will once again see the city transformed into a veritable melting pot of native and international art enthusiasts, drawn to the wide array of events packed in between 15th and the 20th of September.
Between exhibitions and film screenings, artist talks, art fairs, and parties, we recognise that the variety of attractions, however enthralling, can be a little overwhelming. Well, worry no more. To assist you in navigating through the vast itinerary, and ensuring you don’t miss out, we have compiled a reasonably compact list of just some of the must-see highlights.
Paul McCarthy Exhibition at Schinkel Pavilion
Transgressive, violent and darkly comic: these are just a few of the labels that have been used to describe the Los Angeles ‘bad boy’ artist Paul McCarthy. With his ever-growing repertoire of Bacchanalian debauchery and tragicomic narratives, McCarthy’s work has sparked controversial critical debate since the 1990s, stirring the waters of the art world on an international scale. In cooperation with Berlin Volksbühne, the artist’s project will bring part of his recent and prolific series, ‘Life Cast’, to the Schinkel Pavillion. The space itself, built in 1969 by Richard Paulick, has dual intrigue for both it’s eccentric DDR architecture, and, since 2008, as a venue for exciting contemporary sculpture, installation, and media art. In a few days, its octagon-shaped showroom with its floor-to-ceiling windows will be transformed into a quasi-sacral arena of morbidity and voyeurism, as a hyper-realistic, silicone manifestation of the artist himself, nude and lifeless, claims center stage. Be prepared to slip into the skin of both objective observer, and intrusive voyeur, for what promises to be an enthralling, albeit slightly macabre, experience.
The exhibition will open on September 11th at 7pm, and run until November 15th, 2015.
Time Capsules. By the Side of the Road. Wim Wenders’ Recent Photographs at Blain|Southern
For his first exhibition in his hometown in over a decade, Wim Wenders graces Berlin Art Week with a collection of his new and recent photographs, presented by Blain|Southern Gallery. Prolific New German Cinema filmmaker, playwright, author, and photographer, Ernst Wilhelm, or ‘Wim’, has paved an international path as Jack of all creative trades, over the last four decades. As suggested by the title of the exhibition, Wenders’ work probes the relationship between photography and memory, placing particular emphasis on the potential of the medium to act as a vessel for transmitting the past, and preserving it for the future. Focussing on landscapes, and anthropological traces, several of the photographs included function as portals of this kind, capturing images of places that have drastically altered over time. Having spent the previous fifteen years living in America, the exhibition offers an interesting insight into to the synthesis of this dual-national influence, and creates an intriguing international dialogue.
The exhibition will run from September 17th until November 14th, 2015.
Hito Steyerl: Left To Our Own Devices at KOW Berlin
Another exhibition to present one of Germany’s seminal artist-filmmaker’s will be KOW Gallery’s upcoming show of Hito Steyerl’s work. The seventh edition in the gallery’s program, ‘One Year of Filmmakers’, this exhibition will also mark the first ever display of the artist’s work in Germany. For many, Steyerl has become a linchpin in the field of contemporary art, with much of her distinct work influenced by, and confronting, the socio-political issues that pervade our globalised world. The five video installations that will be shown at KOW, from 2012 to 2014, are no exception. Channelling Kung Fu legend, Bruce Lee, she harnesses his mantra from ‘A Warrior’s Journey’; “Be water, my friend!”. Drawing on its underpinning ethos as a formula for survival in the face of a superior power – the ability to be adaptable and malleable – she visually contextualises it for today’s ‘era of liquidity’, in which it might reasonably be found as a guiding principle in a guerrilla handbook, for a hacker, or indeed an activist. Politically potent with a keen edge of wit, Steyerl’s show is sure to make you thirsty for more.
The exhibition will open on September 16th at 6pm, and will run until December 5th, 2015.
Marinella Senatore: Scenografia at Peres Projects Berlin
Continuing the theme of film is Italian artist Marinella Senatore’s third solo exhibition at Peres Projects. Having studied cinematography at the National Film School in Rome, Italy, Senatore’s multi-media oeuvre has remained largely entranced by the film set – Scenografia unsurprisingly included. Working between London and Paris, her work revolves around public participation and channelling the creative energy of a crowd – notions lent easily to the collaborative effort, and mass exposure, of filmmaking. This time, the visitor will quite literally enter into the filmic world, as Senatore seeks to transform the gallery space into a reduced set. Cinematic filters will paint the windows red, tinting your gaze before you enter the surreal space, constructed through abstracted cutouts from past film sets, and magnified still shots from collaborative projects. The show will be accompanied by a large-scale installation at Art Berlin Contemporary.
The exhibition will open on September 16th at 6pm, and run until November 7th, 2015.
Edouard Baribeaud: The Hour of the Gods at Galerie Judin
Baribeaud presents a new series of watercolours and paintings, all created this year. Inspired by his travels to India in 2014, the title makes reference to that enchanting twilight hour of day known as “godhuli bela”, or “the time of cow dust”, and provides a framework for his composition, subject, and style. In his imaginatively rendered narrative scenes of tropical birds and monkeys, volcanoes and tempests, Baribeaud draws on traditions of Indian miniature painting, textile patterning, and woodblock printing, exploring the juncture between realism and myth. Perhaps not as explicitly as Stereyl, Baribeaud’s show is wrapped around a central chore that is similarly historically and politically charged. Harnessing the subtlety of traditional media like egg-tempera painting, etching, and watercolours, the artist embarks on a contemporary reassessment of nineteenth century Orientalism, refocusing a gaze on the contentious issues surrounding Western representations of the East.
The exhibition will open on September 16th at 6pm, and run until November 7th, 2015.
The Preis der Nationalgalerie Shortlist Exhibition at Hamburger Bahnhof
If you are looking for a slightly more multifarious exhibition, the Hamburger Bahnhof presents the diverse collection of artists that have made it onto the Shortlist for the Award of the National Gallery for Young Art, and the Award for Young Film Art. The Awards, which take place every other year, are aimed at uncovering cutting edge innovation in the fields of both art and film; discovering new approaches and novel perspectives to expand the circumference of each discourse. This year’s nominees, perhaps more than any previous year, are breaking past the current boundaries of media and genre, and with their assortment of formal experimentations, mark a new leap towards fresh interaction with materials, and immateriality. Having been selected by a first jury, the four projects – Christian Falsnaes, Florian Hecker, Anne Imhof, and artist collective Slavs and Tatar – will be exposed to the public, along with a second jury. Visitors will get the unique chance to preview the inception of new artistic and filmic directions, before we watch them unravel over the next few years.
The exhibition will open on September 10th 2015, and run until January 17th, 2016.
Another series of exhibitions that will incorporate a variety of diverse artists and artworks is STADT/BILD: Image of a City. As the second collaborative project between four leading art institutions in Berlin; Berlin Gallery, German Bank Kunsthalle, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, and National Gallery – Berlin State Museums, a collection of projects will be scattered across these different sites, displaying an assortment of approaches to the central notion of ‘The City’. The wide range of concepts to be explored will include; the institutional structure and interior mechanisms of museums, urban development, as well as various related social, aesthetic and cultural issues. The projects will also traverse the boundary between public and private space, challenging conventions of participation and community. One particularly unmissable exhibition is the group show at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Welcome to the Jungle, with its focus on the imperceptible and the abnormal, the chaotic subconscious, that trembles just below the cheery façade of big city life. Get to know Berlin inside out as you travel between these institutional hotspots, examining the skeletal infrastructure of the city that these artists seek to strip bare.
The exhibition will open on September 15th at 6pm, and run until November 8th, 2015.
For it’s eighth edition, abc – Art Berlin Contemporary will inhabit the halls of STATION-Berlin, at Gleisdreieck, from 17th to 20th September. Boasting the participation of around 100 galleries, from 17 countries worldwide, the event is shaping up to be another Arcadia for both established, and upcoming contemporary artists alike. With the sprawling network of industrial caverns that the venue has to offer, June14 Meyer Grohbrügge & Chermayeff have developed an exciting new architectural concept to help organise the space this year, prescribing that each gallery will occupy either whole spaces, or corner spaces of the halls. A couple of highlights that this year’s fair will also include are; the Proximities and Desires exhibition, taking place in the adjacent Hall C of abc and presenting works from a number of private Berlin-based art collections; as well as the free of charge panel discussions hosted by Talking Galleries at 11am on Friday and Saturday morning, contemplating topics from international trends, to Berlin’s gallery landscape. If you fancy a preview to the fair-mania, take your pick from the long list of participating Berlin-based galleries that will be opening their doors on the evening of Wednesday September 16, to give a sneak peak of their shows.
The Fair will run between September 17th – 20th, 2015.
abc is joined this year, for the second time, by its younger contemporary, Positions Berlin. After its successful debut in 2014, the budding Art Fair will move, with its array of 78 international exhibitors, to the larger venue of Kreuzberg’s Spree-side landmark, Arena Berlin. The aim of the event is to survey and celebrate the recent developments in, and burgeoning breadth of the international art scene in Berlin. With Arena’s historical brick architecture, open spaces, and flooding of natural light, the enormous industrial space – Europe’s largest cantilever hangar at the time of its construction, in 1927 – promises to provide the perfect climate for such creativity and innovation. Additionally, there are a number of interesting events lined up for their supporting programme. The opening reception, on the evening of Thursday September 17th, will present two exciting exhibitions; Katzengold (Golden Mica) – a special collective show organized by members of the Galleries Association of Berlin (lvbg), and exploring the developmental processes of creative art; as well as Pararrayos – another collective exhibition, showcasing twelve contemporary artists from Mexico. Torn between the coinciding Art Fairs? Not to worry – Positions will be offering a free of charge shuttle service between the two locations.
The Fair will run between September 17th – 20th, 2015.
In cooperation with Project Space Festival, which lit up a network of different sites across Berlin with its daily exhibitions that ran throughout August, Xchange Festival aims to draw further attention to these varied creative approaches, and individual spaces. With ten participating parties, split into five pairs of joint initiatives, the event places emphasis on the theme of exchange and dialogue, encouraging the development of collaborative and innovative new exhibition formats. The theme of ‘exchange’ is harnessed in the broadest sense of the word, with possible interpretations ranging from the interchange of ideas and perspectives, to that of players, or commodities. With this, the event hopes to spark a joint shift of perspectives that will serve as an acting influence for each respective project. District Berlin and Kreuzberg Pavillion, for example, unite with their shared project, Queering TASTE. The Art of Losing is Not Hard to Master/Though It May Look Like a Disaster, and each explore current trends in the curatorial field between art, education and research through different mediums. With a diverse and widespread range of stimulating projects, Xchange Festival provides huge scope for discovery of the renowned and little-known spots alike, that Berlin has to offer.
The Festival will open on September 18th from 3-9pm, and run until September 20th, 2015.
Five & Dime Editions and Multiples: Launch Party with DJs: Lotic, Your Body, Mr. Silla /// Hosted by Peaches
Yes, this year’s Berlin Art Week promises a sufficiently constant stream of daily sustenance to keep you culture vultures satisfied, if not a little bloated. When day turns to night, however, and you are looking for a way to de-bloat, Berlin’s notorious spectrum of nightspots also shows no shortage of plans to keep you going. One evening that is sure to be a banger will take place at the centrally located KitKat / Sage Club, on September 16th, and celebrates the launch of Five & Dime Editions and Multiples; an online store selling editions and multiples by artists, set up by Stephanie Comilang and Barbara Jenner. Hosted by electro-clash icon Peaches, and welcoming DJs Lotic, Your Body, and Mr. Silla – what better way to gear you up for the rest of the week.
The party will start at 10pm on September 16th, 2015.