The fourteenth edition of the Gallery Weekend Berlin took place from 27th to 29th of April. In the first part, there has been shown exhibitions by established galleries. This second part will start new entries of the official programme, Berlin’s young generation of gallerists and more in another ten exhibitions recommended.
Although the presence of emerging galleries at Gallery Weekend Berlin has grown up, still fresh initiatives are a minority and the event gives an incomplete picture of the city art scene to visitors. GWB this year includes four young galleries taking part for the first time, one of them is Alexander Levy hosting a solo show of Berlin-based artist Julius von Bismarck. One of the more experimental exhibits on the list, the set up consists of a floor with three moving walkway panels. Viewers have to keep in motion while viewing the video installation showing floating animals along one side of the gallery wall. The darkened room allows the brilliance of the animals, a furry fox or a white stork floating dead in a wind tunnel —and it is the fourth time I see two dimensional images of dead animals or three-dimensional taxidermy during the present edition of GWB.
Similarly, another new entry of this edition is Dittrich & Schlechtriem presenting the first solo show by Berlin-based Andreas Greiner. The artist has produced works that reflect on how humans manipulate and redesign nature through genetic engineering, with a deep examination of the borders between nature and technology —in our age of digitalization and synthetic biology. Human manipulation of evolutionary processes is posing ethical, social and ecologically critical questions on demand of answers. The centerpiece is a sound installation composed of a luminescent aquarium and pulsating water tubes synchronized to the soundscape. Along the walls, there is a series of photographs with microscopic images of algae and tumor cells.
Young and Influential
Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler (K-T Z) displays Yu Honglei. The young gallery was also included in the last edition, and this year has been among the weekend’s most Instagrammed shows. Honglei grew up in Inner Mongolia, as a child he loved to paint, later studied art and animation in Beijing, where he currently lives and works. Digital aesthetics and the “beyond geographical” reach of information through Internet have infused his practice, even though he identifies himself as a sculptor who draws on a wide vernacular of Chinese urban landscapes, poetry, and everyday objects. K-T Z shows a constellation of sculptures made of bronze and resin and a video installation.
ChertLüdde, located —as the previous one— at the heterogeneous hood of Kreuzberg, and as well present in the GWB last year hosts Patrizio Di Massimo. The solo exhibition Inside Me explores duality —specifically, the connection between a man and a woman, the artist and his wife— through a series of paintings and suggestive boudoir motif installations: two human-sized tassels and a 2013 pink cushion installation containing a surprising hidden performer whose limbs are visible here and there from the pile of pillows.
Despite these new bets, most of Berlin’s galleries that are supposed to be its next Alexander Levy, the participation is not only through invitation but some of the young starting galleries cannot justify the weekend’s cost of 7500 Euros for the inclusion in the official program, a BMW to take collectors and some invitations for Saturday night’s dinner.
It is undeniable, however, that everyone benefits from the “invasion” of collectors and art professionals into the city, who visit galleries they listed or not in the official program. With all this foot traffic and thanks to this format, Berlin galleries can put on their best shows, in their own spaces, and have an audience.
That is the case of Future Galerie with its show “i sit down and they tell me lemme tell you they say and i don’t wanna be told and im told and told and told and told” where Nora Turato invited friends and family for a get-together in Berlin.
Only a few intrepid galleries offered video, not so much the format in an event where the main purpose is the market. Private collectors are still reluctant to acquire “immaterial” artworks —excepting a well-known few as Julia Stoschek time-based media collection, that also opened a show during the weekend.
One of the daring is KLEMM’S, with Sven Johne video installation Dear Vladimir Putin. In it, retired civil engineer of Dresden prepares a speech to Vladimir Putin, to be delivered in Russian live from his home computer. The audio of his speech is punctuated by sounds of protagonist preparing himself physically: shaving or taking a shower. We get an intimate view of an aging East German man’s fastidious daily routine. The video is complemented by a series of posters depicting portraits of neoliberal capitalist life coaches and their cheesy motivational catchphrases, mounted on a stark black wall.
PSM Gallery video work SELF by Christian Falsnaes is based on an experiment. It shows a group that moves together through the city of Berlin and carries out various actions. It is unclear what brought these individuals together, what purpose they pursue, where they go or where they come from. The collective actions are choreographed and run according to exact agreements. The individual bodies become responsive to one another, so that movement, body language, and expression are increasingly synchronized, emerging into a decentered collective body.
Assiduous of the official program
Peres Projects presents the London based artist Rebecca Ackroyd impressive show The Mulch, where a series of figurative sculptures of reclining figures “are ‘basking’—like lizards in the sun” using words of the artist. The body as a structure, architecture as a body: one sculpture is a skeleton where a series of arched windows simulate the ribs, these vault windows apertures are also in the legs, front and back of the other sculptures, all are red inside. Looks like “their insides are outside”. Some of them have an astronaut helmet. They look hybrid, mutant maybe. Belonging everywhere and nowhere. At the gallery she builds a long wall up making the space into a red light runway, the installation is completed pulled down shutters and closed cases.
Continuing with one of the galleries that always has a lot of visitors, König Galerie. Located in a brutalist former church, is showing Swiss sculptor Claudia Comte on the first floor with an impressive display emulating a forest with massive tree trunks suspended from the ceiling; each containing a wood, marble or bronze sculpture. Comte’s peculiar family of snakes or cacti are complemented this time with cans and plastic bottles.
Downstairs in the chapel, there is a small exhibition of Belgian artist Evelyne Axell —deceased prematurely at age of 37— who recently gained a cult status with her pop art depictions of strong women. Her synthetic resin silhouettes were a highlight of this year’s GWB offerings, a protofeminist potential in pop art’s largely male-dominated canon.
Peruvian artist Fernando Bryce solo show Freedom First at Galerie Barbara Thumm is an impressive body of work in pen and ink, reproducing front pages of newspapers under the umbrella of the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) founded in West Berlin in 1950 which covered that time major social and political revolutions. The extensive reproductions cover the gallery room, making it overwhelming to absorb the quantity of information. CCF was the first large gathering of non-communist left-leaning intellectuals in the post-war period. Rejecting neutralism, they called for cultural freedom against totalitarian regimes from within a West-versus-East paradigm. The CCF operated 35 offices across the world. In 1967 it was revealed that they had been covertly financed by the CIA, causing a scandal. The fundamental question of the possible autonomy versus the instrumentalization of culture continues being a trouble nowadays. The subject carefully analyzed by Bryce it is a rabidly topic today: the post-truth issue where the complexity of world politics and the dissemination of information has become even more obscured.