Article by Berlin Art Link // Monday, Apr. 30, 2018
Two days prior to the official start of Berlin Gallery Weekend 2018, on Wednesday evening, I arrive at the galleries clustered around Potsdamer Straße 77–87. Climbing the stairs past Galerie Judin and Blain|Southern, I eventually arrive at the top floor of the building and enter Esther Schipper for a private viewing of the exhibition ‘Catch me if you can! AA Bronson + General Idea, 1968-2018.’ Exactly fifty years ago, Bronson met Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, who together became known as General Idea. Following his partners’ deaths in 1994, Bronson continued making work on his own and the exhibition at Schipper, organized chronologically, is the first to present pieces by both General Idea and AA Bronson in continuity. Photographs are hung alongside video installations, and sculptural works consume the center of the space. Collectively, the artworks examine the duality of appearance and disappearance, often through the use of the body, or the ghostly representation thereof.
Returning on Friday night for public openings, there is less champagne and many more beer bottles clinking in the courtyard below. The crowd swells throughout the night, hopping between buildings. Down the street, above Woolworth, people roam through the new project space PS120, viewing ‘Part 1: Loose Ends Don’t Tie,’ the first installment of its three-part series ‘The Way Things Run (Der Lauf der Dinge).’ The aim of the show—and space at large—is to place artists in dialogue who may otherwise never be seen together due to generational and/or geographical gaps. Installations, sculptures and videos by the likes of Rosmarie Trockel, Tom Burr and Joan Jonas accompany those by more emerging artists, such as Olu Ogunnaike and Mirak Jamal. Together, the works cross individualized locations and contexts to engender open-ended discussions surrounding cultural hybridity.
Slight off the heavily trodden path is Société with ‘Lana Del Rey,’ an exhibition of new paintings by Jeanette Mundt. In each of the gallery’s four rooms Mundt shows a new mini-series of works. The New York-based artist often makes paintings of paintings, and one of these new series comprises four paintings of her husband’s paintings of his own tattoos. Explaining the works, she laughs and says, “I thought it’d be cool to play with how cliché we are.” One of the other series focuses on the absurdity of pink camouflage hunting gear and in another, Mundt paints composites of photographs from the women’s gymnastics at the Rio Olympics. Standing in a room with various still life paintings depicting skulls, she addresses the title of the show and expresses how much she loves the pop icon. I quickly realize that Del Rey’s playful yet intelligent investigation of American superficiality seeps through every surface of Mundt’s paintings.
As the galleries begin to close their doors, I squeeze into Galerie Tanja Wagner to see Laurel Nakadate‘s exhibition ‘The Kingdom.’ One row of photographs lines the walls, telling the imagined story of Nakadate’s son with his grandmother, who died before he was born. For 20 years, the artist has used photography, film and performance to explore the idea of chance encounters—both fictional and real—with strangers. Although she turns inward for the subject matter of this exhibition, unknown figures come into play through the construction of the imagined imagery: Nakadate hired anonymous technicians online to manipulate and merge images of her mother throughout her life with photographs of her son. The clearly manipulated images provide an opening in the otherwise personal narrative, allowing viewers to project their own ideas onto the faked images. In turn, the series of work becomes a surreal exploration of “what if…” to which everyone can relate.
When the galleries finally empty and people pile into the streets, I head to the courtyard in front of Supportico Lopez on Kürfürstenstraße, where Battle-ax is giving an experimental viola performance, carrot juice is mixed with tequila, and a food truck serves tacos. As the neighbors began complaining about noise and speakers fall silent, some gallery goers returned home while others continued to follow the local circuit, partying late into the night with EXILE, Kunstsaele, PSM, PS120 and Studio Picknick at Surprise Club.