Gallery Weekend Berlin is a mandatory stop for contemporary art in Germany. This year, the art event celebrated its 15th edition. Last weekend, April 26th – 28th, the Gallery Weekend took place officially in 45 galleries across the city showcasing works by both new and established artists. But also taking advantage of the official event and the amount of public that it attracts, the approximately 400 galleries —the number varies as some exist only a few months or just days as pop-up stores— showed their art too and had longer opening times than usual this weekend.
The Gallery Weekend Berlin is a skillfully organized collaboration that gives collectors and curators a sense of the “latest” in the city’s art scene, although any case there was not much innovation, equally important, it gives galleries a chance to make some sales as the organization brings international collectors to Berlin.
Additionally, during those three intense days, institutions, private collections, and off-spaces opened new exhibitions throughout the week. The Gallery Weekend was founded 15 years ago by a group of committed gallerists to strengthen Berlin as an art location. From the 45 official participants, there are well-known galleries but also experimental working galleries.
After the organizers announced the list of participants, there were actions and criticism in the social media due to the program unbalanced number of female artist, with 41 artists, 2 male-dominated collectives versus 15 women. For that reason, this post gallery weekend walk will highlight thefifteen female positions.
Female shows in the official tour
The brave women with solo shows in alphabetical order, are:
- Alice Aycock
- Sol Calero
- Horia Damian
- Jana Euler
- Asta Gröting
- Stefanie Heinze
- Camille Henrot
- Elizabeth Jaeger
- Beth Letain
- Henrike Naumann
- Anne Neukamp
- Frida Toranzo Jaeger
- Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven, Fiona Banner
- Raphaela Vogel
- Jorinde Voigt
Alice Aycock at Thomas Schulte Window
A new work by the American sculptor and installation artist Alice Aycock is presented in the corner window space at one of the busiest streets in the city center. The four-meter-high, complex sculptureTwister Grande (tall) twists its way up in the nine-meter-high space to be admired by passers-by from far. The work is composed of countless spirals, bows, and arches of thin, white powder coated aluminum sheets that wind around each other. The twisting is based on an extensive repertoire of cyclonic wind patterns, which she assembles on the computer using 3D-CAD-software that enables to calculate the feasibility and statics.
Sol Calero at ChertLüdde
Archivos Olvidados is Sol Calero’s inaugural exhibition at ChertLüdde. Constructed as a tribute to her grandmother, Luisa Hernandez, the project acknowledges the art and crafts connection to the family matriarch and celebrates the significance of each to the social and familial structures of Calero’s childhood throught several installations. The central subject matter is an archive of magazine clippings, used by Hernandez as references for her paintings, here re-elaborated by her granddaughter.
Horia Damian at Galeria Plan B
Rumanian artist Horia Damian’s show includes a wide and essential selection of drawings, paintings, and sculptures from different stages of his practice between the 1950s and the 2000s. In the post-WWII context, many artists shared the ambition that society should be transformed by art. Monumentality was then supposed to bring back together art and the people in a communist conception of society: the monument allowing an overview of the arts. Damian’s pieces from the 1970s are based upon impeccable craftsmanship, an obsessive preoccupation with materials using reductive, minimal, and formalistic structures. She then created monumental, symbolic sculptures giving them a metaphysical perspective —refering to a celestial, ideal, and sacral rather than a terrestrial space— that would distinguish them from the contemporary works of American Minimal Art.
Jana Euler at Galerie Neu
Another sex powered masculinity critic. In her solo show Great White Fear, Jana Euler unveils a new series of large-scale figurative paintings depicting sea-like creatures if it wasn’t for the bulging veins running the length of their slippery bodies: a cross between erect penises and great white sharks, the creatures are captured mid-air, water splashing and foaming around them with their “faces” twisting in ecstasy as Euler stuck noses and expressive facial features on the beasts.
Asta Gröting at Carlier | Gebauer
Astra Gröting addresses questions of vulnerability, injury, and repression through three new series of works, as well as selected earlier ones. The artist translates sculptural thought in several media, often inverting the traditional notions of monumental sculpture to get the viewer attention on the physical and emotional breach between people and things. The pieces show an expanded understanding of the body, something she has previously explored since the mid-1980s.
Stefanie Heinze at Capitain Petzel
First solo show in Berlin, Heinze’s paintings depict scenes with themes such as psychology, social class, gender, (a)sexuality, food, digestion, and everyday weather. Anti-achievement and impossibility are embedded in her iconography in the form of flaccid penises, flying carrots or melting creatures. She proclaims “newsense” as a kind of pseudo-optimistic invention alternative to nonsense. The works oscillate between high and low culture, embracing failure as an inherent part of the human being. As the starting point of her paintings, she takes small format drawings in which shapes are added and removed, throughout the transfer to larger-sized canvases, errors occur and are actually included, as said above failure is an integral part of her images.
Camile Henrot at Koenig Galerie
The exhibition at the Chapel space of the gallery is dedicated to Camile Henrot, composed by slow-motion film Tuesday and sculptures Wait What and Defeated. All these works are related to Henrot research about the symbolic meanings of the seven days of the week. She is very interested in the ways archetypes and mythologies are hidden within the banalest parts of our contemporary experience, and how they continue to structure our everyday. Tuesday interweaves a twenty-minute-long sequence of horses being groomed prior to competition with men practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Wait What is a bronze sculpture of an exhausted or dormant headless cat, whose body rests on top of a white resin column and Defeated is an abstract white leather body held to the ground by an aluminum abstract body, as of Tuesday, each echo the beauty of the struggle but also show the agony of it.
Elizabeth Jaeger at Klemms
New York based artist Elizabeth Jaeger presents Brine, her first solo show in Berlin. She uses sculpture and installation to reframe the association between the viewer and their physical presence and consciousness. Empty, rotting, hollow…, a series of transparent glass fish hanging upside down from steel structures with their copper teeth exposed, is a metaphor of “hollow remains of a society in silent, unrelenting paralysis.”
Beth Letain at Peres Projects
Ultrapath solo exhibition shows Beth Letain’s monumentally scaled paintings of brightly colored stripes, squares, stacks, and slabs suspended across impossibly weightless white grounds. In their simplicity, their unassuming thematic variations, and purely formal aspects, these works hold up a mirror to painting’s modernist past.
Henrike Naumann at KOW
With Ostalgie, a time-travel three-level installation, Naumann offers a cross-section of German society in the guise of a furniture store display installation. Rooms with upside down furniture hanging everywhere as well as lying on the floor where inserted videos show the critical unification adaption gap between East and West Germany. Although most of her installations resemble furnished stage sets, through which she deals with our every-day fascism, assessing the conditions in which the historical monster is being resurrected, in this show at KOW, there are questions concerning the neglected consequences of the breakup of communism.
Anne Neukamp at Gregor Podnar
Referencing familiar symbols, popular icons, and imagery from contemporary screen life, Neukamp plays in her works with mechanisms of visual understanding. Images that have been originally devised to transmit instant information, are in Neukamp’s works rendered ineffectively and ambiguously. They are enlarged, multiplied, and turned into enigmatic silhouettes, which absorb the viewer into a puzzling decryption game. The oscillation between luminous three-dimensional forms and flat monochromatic surfaces frees the graphic forms from any ties to their previous contexts.
Frida Toranzo Jaeger at Barbara Weiss
What cars and painting have in common is that both are traditionally driven by men, both embody power and control. Mexican Frida Toranzo Jaeger brings together these two anachronisms in her outstanding show, hoping for a future in which things take a different direction. Her pictures, often divided into diptychs and triptychs as if they were altarpieces, show interior views of hybrid or electric cars, prototypes which already works without a steering wheel. With her detailed view of the machine, she potentiates its erotism and the fetish of the new, clean smart design.
Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven, Fiona Banner at Barbara Thumm
AMVK (Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven) encompasses all kinds of media and knows how to draw on the wealth of the historical and contemporary world of knowledge. Many of her works have an autobiographical context and are the expression of a process of getting hold of the living world transforming it into art…Texts, forms, fragments, and colours form intoxicating excerpts from ideas, illustrations, and analyses.
In the present show there are a series of drawings dating from 2013, where interiors dominate as places of retreat, snapshots from airports, and text passages from Baudrillard and Lefebvre. According to her, the parallel lines in the drawings are connected to the textiles of the Miccosukee Indians of Florida. There are also two works from the Botox series, which are digitally retouched portraits of unknown people from glossy magazines using the technique oil pastel painting. For the latest group, using plexiglass, digital print, and acrylic, she was inspired by a love letter by Ludwig Wittgenstein, where she found the expression Not Far From You (Unweit von Dir) to create one of her most recent works. The reference to an interior of Adolph Loos and Wittgenstein‘s letter may suffice to think here of a deeply sonorous, masculine warmth.
Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press is usually known for her densely verbal works. In this new show, she references the limitations of language, and in turn communication through a series of full stop inflatable sculptures or anti-texts. Banner became known for her early written transcriptions of Hollywood war films such as Top Gun and Apocalypse Now. From these “wordscapes” to her use of found and transformed military aircraft, she juxtaposes the brutal and the sensual, performing a complete cycle of intimacy, attraction, and alienation.
Raphaela Vogel at BQ
Combining sound collage, sculpture, video, and painting into what she deems a “surreal odyssey that descends into the dark sides of the career dream”, the artist reflect both the her own phobias and those of the art world at large: the loss of self, the state of exhaustion in an endless production cycle, and social expectations about what it means to be a female artist. Moving images include a whirling vortex of an ocean, a bird spider (the largest spider, by mass and size, on the planet), or a cantilever chair. The chaotic sculptural installations of traverses and other equipment make the space a complete work of art. The extremely loud soundtrack and the spider motive brings phobics into distress.
Jorinde Voigt at Helga Maria Klosterfelde Edition
Jorinde Voigt has long been searching for a way to transport the moving world of her drawings into the real space. The exhibition at Klosterfelde shows dark tables made of wood, which transfer the familiar forms from her drawings, the rotational movements, and their disturbances into the three dimensions. Also there are geometric cushions, as colourful as a bunch of flowers, which can be used as anything: a room divider, sitting area, guest bed, sofa. There are no instructions and there is no right or wrong. The sculptures offer an invitation rarely expressed in art: “Come on, let’s play.”
Andrea Robbins/Max Becher at Sprüth Magers
Nativist Americans, the exhibition by the artistic duo and couple Andrea Robbins and Max Becher features a selection from three photographic series: German Indians, 1997-98, The Improved Order of Red Men, 2017, and Pocahontas Pageant, Laredo, Texas, 2017-2019, which share a theme of the historic use of appropriated Native American culture as costume or disguise. In particular, German Indians, presents Germans in Native American dress in Radebeul, near Dresden, the hometown of 19th century writer Karl May whose highly popular books featuring Native American characters are still widely read by German audiences.
Other women out of the official circuit
Signe Pierce at EIGEN + ART Lab
Signe Pierce and Alli Coates’s viral video American Reflexxx (2015) picks up on the social experiments of iconic Yoko Ono or Abramovich performances of the 1960s and 1970s, transporting them to the digital age. It shows the artist walking down Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, after dark, wearing a hypersexualized outfit and mirrored metallic mask that covers her all face. Passers-by rage quickly escalates to assault. The spontaneous reaction of this angry mob prompts us to reflect on our own inherent prejudice and intolerance. For her first solo exhibition in Germany, Pierce – who has transformed her appearance to embody an archetypical hypersexualized femme in art and life – will show a new, immersive work that similarly implicates the viewer in reacting to female stereotypes and otherness.
Femke Herregraven at Future Gallery
Herregraven presents an ongoing investigation into the relationship between financial value, self-organizing systems, and geological instability. A new series of works explore the orbits of different actors that cross a geological depression in East Africa, in the installation cyclical movements of a shield volcano, a telescope lens, a salt desert, extremophiles, salt trading caravans, and a swarm of CubeSats inspired a spatial model from which out-of-place artifacts are created by using silicic ceramics, color correction, salt printing, and remote sensing.
Šejla Kamerić at Tanja Wagner
The exhibition focusses on self-portraits, feminism and gender stereotypes that have always been dominant in her practice. Some of the new works on view are painfully personal, but they always try to reach a collective experience. Included in this exhibition is her monumental self-portrait Embarazada (2015).
Other Feminine and Feminist approaches
Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz at Julia Stoscheck Collection Berlin
The Swiss duo Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz are demanding a lot from the visitors in their exhibition Ongoing Experiments with Strangeness at the Julia Stoschek Collection Berlin. Upon the entrance to the first room, they ask the audience to establish a telepathic connection with the protagonists of their videos. What you should feel seeing the films and installations is the simultaneity of past history and the present. In the show, historical political manifestos mix with disco music, an installation with ghost lights remains empty as it is only activated by the visitors. The artists reflect on the diversity of identities and the resisting potential of sound and silence. In the large cinema hall, female musicians, including the iconic figure Peaches, perform with their instruments the despair of Marilyn Monroe and the Warhol assassin Valerie Solanas: Telepathic Improvisation (2017), Silent (2016), I Want (2015) and To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of their Desperation (2013).
Straying from the Line at Schinkel Pavillon
The group show is dedicated to a fundamentally expanded perspective on the multiplicity of feminist tendencies in the art of the last 100 years. Instead of presenting a straight narrative of feminist art as a generation- and/or identity-specific style, the exhibition charts a network of multiple references, drawing connections between aesthetically and politically, geographically and historically heterogeneous perspectives. Different narratives and movements thus give shape to feminist tendencies that are not unified by any style or label. Their connection resides rather in a shared attitude towards art as a field of antagonistic relationships and hierarchical structures that traverse society as a whole.
Expansive yet not overwhelming, the group show examines a multiplicity of feminist perspectives and forms of resistance against inequality, oppression, and abuse of power. Occupying every inch of the Schinkel’s octagonal space, works by artists as diverse as Elaine Sturtevant and Maria Lassnig, Nancy Spero and Ellen Cantor, or Cosey Fanni Tutti and Claude Cahun hang shoulder to shoulder with pieces by Anna Uddenberg and Martine Syms – to name but a few – charting a mind map of narratives that boldly challenge the status quo.
Text: María Muñoz
Photos: Courtesy of Gallery Weekend Berlin