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Berlin’s New Kunstherbst
by Nicole Rodríguez Woods

Art fair season is a delicate negotiation between time and interest: a balancing act between crowd surfing, booth gazing, chitchat and artwork hovering. Disparate events claim your schedule and force you to taxi around a city, time crunching it all in, arriving slightly damp everywhere you land. This year consolidation is king.

While Berlin’s Kunstherbst is not exactly a novelty, with last year’s demise of famed fair Art Forum (R.I.P. 1996-2011) Berlin’s major institutions of contemporary art and privately organized art fairs abc—art berlin contemporary and Preview Berlin have launched a consolidated art program under the new moniker Berlin Art Week. The merger has allowed different private and public institutions to cross-pollinate planning tours, educational lectures, performances and events in and on the fringes of the major local fairs. After sitting down with countless press releases, online invites and a few snail-mail requests to devise an art-week-plan-of-attack, attention might shift away from the elbow-rubbing of the fair buzz and onto smaller events farther afield, tours and lectures—the goings-on one often manages to miss in the midst of herding through all the bright lights of gleaming booths.

For an amuse bouche of Berlin Art Week’s savory events to come, read on with your calendar book on the ready.

Schinkel Pavillon Showroom.

It all starts tonight at 19.00 with Cyprien Gaillard. Sometimes referred to as an archaeologist of recent history, Cyprien Gaillard’s installations and performances challenge the authenticity of an object after it’s been wrenched from its place or era of origin. Responsible for the infamous KW “Beeramid” of 2011, he left a room-sized stack of the Turkish import Efes to the devices of Berlin’s insatiable culture consumers. His newest performance “What It Does to Your City” will kick off a week of art events at Mitte’s Schinkel Pavillon, a piece of architecture built in 1969 that fused elements of both Classicism and Modernity in a manner ahead of its time. Attendees will no doubt be anxious to see the “it” unveiled and learn what it will do to this unique hall.

Just two stops south on the U6 on Zimmerstrasse 90 is Agency of Unrealized Projects at daadgalerie, a project by e-flux and the Serpentine Gallery London devised by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Julia Peyton-Jones, Julieta Aranda, and Anton Vidokle. If you missed the pre-art week opening on Sunday, the exhibition will be on view throughout the week and until October 20th. The Berlin edition of this project hosted by DAAD seeks to document unrealized ideas, artworks of entertained thoughts that would otherwise remain unknown and unnoticed. While labeling the works “unrealized” opens up the potential for possible future realizations, the exhibition acknowledges the fact that not all ideas are meant to come to fruition or concretized. Recording speculations, the show exposes conceptual possibilities and utopian unattainables.

Left- Liu Wei at Long March Space, right- Georg Karl Pfahler at Galerie Crone, Installation view, abc 2011 “about painting”. Photo- Stefan Korte.


Thursday marks the official opening and all fairs will be in full swing. Whether having hit numerous gallery openings, abc, Preview, Berliner Liste or Stroke everyone is bound to need a little decompressing. If you are looking to unwind a little, Preview is hosting its Opening Party at Prince Charles (Prinzenstr. 85F) free until midnight, with an installation by Florian Fusco and tunes by Paris Suit Yourself, Andre Crom, Mat.Joe, Fumée Gris and Monty. If you’re looking to score some eats abc will be hosting a barbecue with Grill Royal at Luckenwalder Strasse 4.

Friday hosts several talks at prominent collections, starting with Me Collectors Room on Augustrasse launching the day’s schedule at 15.00 (RSVP required) with a talk and tour of Art & Toys led by Selim Varol. And let’s face it. We’ve probably all collected some type of figurine once upon a time. But you’d be hard-pressed to find many have done it with as much dedication and personal passion as Varol, owner of the largest collection of figurines in Europe numbering somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 individual pieces. The exhibition houses 3,000 works by more than 200 artists and designers from over 20 countries all with feet firmly planted in the realm of urban, surrealism and pop art, Varol’s personal brand of interest. Shepard Fairey, JR and KAWS are just some of the many artists included. After joining the collector himself on a tour through the world of his playfully subversive assemblage, trek back to Preview Berlin to catch Romanian curator and art investment consultant Cosmin Nasui of Nasui Private Collection & Galley, Bucharest, hosting a debate The Soft Power of the Art Market, focusing on the production and consumption of contemporary art and talent and intending to cast a fresh look at a new Eastern European system of producing contemporary art within a globalized society.

Kay Rosen, HI, 1998_2011, wall painting, sign paint, dimensions variable. Installation view at abc 2011, Klosterfelde and Helga Maria Klosterfelde Edition. (4)


Further talks will be hosted on Saturday and Sunday at abc’s home base on Luckenwalder Strasse. For the media junkie in us all, on Saturday delve into how the still-emerging social codes of the web are affecting the cultural production line with a presentation by artist and e-flux founder Anton Vidokle and media theorist Arthur Kroker. On Sunday production shifts to distribution as artist and Fillip magazine associate editor Antonia Hirsch, artist Patricia Reer and critic Jan Verwoert explore the ideas behind the project “Intangible Economies” and the notions of a market beyond their financial dimensions and investigate the emotional culprit behind what makes economies tick.

For an extended program of everything on tap at Berlin Art Week 2012, visit

Nicole Rodriguez


(Image on top: EKACHAI EKSAROJ, GOOD ART NEXT DOOR, 2012, Wool, 130 x 180 cm; Courtesy My Foto, Photo Tanja Ju¦êrgensen.)

Posted by Nicole Rodríguez Woods on 9/11/12

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