Art week Berlin
It’s high tide for art in Berlin as the new season starts
Aleida Strowger, Travel editor
September sees the art scene burst back into life with a raft of fairs, openings and parties across the city. We preview the key happenings that will keep art tarts running about town for the next few weeks.
When Berlin’s ‘proper’ art fair, Art Forum disappeared in a cloudburst of grumpiness earlier this year, it gave way to a void into which Berlin’s galleries, dealers, media, artists, Partymauschen, those guys who collect empty beer bottles from the streets and even a few collectors peered sadly, wondering what to do, now the traditional hub of September’s art scene was kaput. But this city is nothing if not adaptable and the autumn season is appearing a considerably jollier prospect than it did a few months back, as existing fringe fairs have somehow managed to coalesce into one, unofficial, über-fair. Art Berlin Contemporary is back in its fifth iteration: worldly, mature and bigger than ever, it’s a credible replacement for the tired old Forum. Yapping at its heels comes the bastion of the underground, Preview Berlin, the Scrappy-Doo to ABC’s Scooby (despite being two years older). And then comes the often-overlooked Berliner Liste fair, whose photography-heavy programme has a global outlook. With most of the city’s galleries launching significant new exhibitions during the second week of September, it’s with anticipation, and a pack of ibuprofen to hand, that we countdown to the giddy peak of the art scene’s year.
Art Berlin Contemporary
The need to establish a forceful presence, without the protective shadow of Art Forum, has caused Art Berlin Contemporary to raise its game. Now ABC is in the hot seat, and the team behind this five-year-old event are bringing an international roster of 125 galleries and a packed programme of events to the city. This year the fair has expanded and is taking place on an ambitious scale at Station in Gleisdreieck, the location of the inaugural ABC in 2007. With the subtitle, ‘about painting’, the event is taking the formality and processes of painting as a theoretical base, upon which artistic responses set about discussing the discipline’s eclectic manifestations, relevance and practice today. And what do we find? A gallimaufry of painting, installation, sculpture photography and video all grapples with the subject, reflecting a wider re-engagement with painting from across the contemporary art world.
There will be much to consider, given the diversity and quality of the names involved. Last year’s curator, Marc Glöde is joined this time around by Rita Kersting, former director of Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen. There’s a healthy Berlin presence, particularly notable in the light of the annual quibbles and quarrels between local art spaces and the organisers of Art Forum – our particular must-sees include Neugerriemschneider (presenting Elizabeth Peyton and James Benning), PSM (Alexander Wagner), Capitain Petzel Berlin (John Stezaker), Galerie EIGEN+ART (Matthias Weischer), Contemporary Fine Arts (Peter Böhnisch) and Galerie Max Hetzler (Andre Butzer).
Art Contemporary Berlin, Station-Berlin, Luckenwalderstr 4-6, Berlin (www.artberlincontemporary.com). U1 Gleisdreieck.
The cavernous interior of Hangar Two at the former Tempelhof airport hosts the seventh Preview Berlin, the city’s ongoing ‘emerging art fair’, from 9-11 September. Amid the remains of long abandoned check-in counters and luggage belts, the Fair has a reputation to maintain – at the cutting-edge of the German art scene.
A very Berlin-orientated event, Preview was set up back in 2004 by local gallerists Kristian Jarmuschek and Rudiger Lange, with input from the artist Ralf Schmitt, as a grass-roots level response to Art Forum. Today, it’s the destination of choice for those who take their art young, fresh and wild. Sixty-one galleries are represented, most of them German. The progressive nature of the fair extends to its programme of peripheral projects, with two new initiatives making the scene this year: Video Art Box brings a selection of new, underground video art from Israel in collaboration with the Fresh Paint Tel Aviv fair and Schir Art Concepts, Berlin. Should you be seeking out the newest talent around, another new programming strand, Focus Academy, presents recent graduates who have never shown in public before, from the Bauhaus Academy in Weimar, the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Kiel and the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremburg. And you can’t get any more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed than that.
Preview Berlin–The Emerging Art Fair 2011. Hangar 2, Flughafen Berlin Tempelhof, Columbiadamm 10, 12101 Berlin (www.previewberlin.com). U6 Platz der Luftbrucke.
1-9pm daily, 8-11 Sep
Although in the shadow of the excitable young pups ABC and Preview, Berliner Liste is a big deal for some. Traditionally, it has promised participants a more interactive and creative approach, as opposed to the usual over-priced plywood booth and bottles of warm water that characterise the standard international art fair experience. Last year’s event demonstrated a solid and well-balanced roll call of participants from across the continent, demonstrating a knack for sourcing galleries and artists from more obscure parts of the world, with generally positive and engaging results. This time around, the Fair has shifted locale to a former power plant in Kreuzberg/Mitte, TRAFO (the same premises as the club Tresor), and is offering up a gargantuan 7000m2 space, in which there will be over 100 galleries, artists and projects. The organisers are promising that photography will dominate this time around, judging by the success of the new photography platforms introduced last year.
Berliner Liste, TRAFO, Köpenicker Str. 70, 10179 Berlin (www.berliner-liste.org). U8 Heinrich-Heinestrasse.