(Berlin.) This city offers a sheer endless supply of gallery hotspots. We have not yet talked about the eminent neighbourhood of KW and Me. On Gallery Weekend, an inflatable Chinese dragon guarded the entrance to Linienstrasse coming from Friedrichstr. There was no label around, and I’m still not a hundred per cent sure about its being an artwork.
You might have heard of IFA, but most probably not of ifa. The former is a consumer electronics trade show, the latter an “institute for foreign relations” (some sort of foundation, I guess). They celebrate their hundredth anniversary with an art exhibition. Barb wire on the ceiling, a text of naive political romanticism on one wall, and oversized colour pencils with occasionally African styled figurines in between on another. War is bad, the world is one, hasta la victoria &ct.
Painted photorealism at Rasche Ripken Gallery leads to pink and neon green kitsch at Martin Mertens Gallery. "If it continues like this, I’ll have to hope on the cheerleader effect." It didn't. Although, the one-man-Museum of Silence, I need to visit again to properly judge it. And the works of Wim Botha at Feldbusch Wiesner Rudolph Gallery suffer much from poor lighting. They do seem nice however: human heads tortured with glass shards or pierced by metal rods, and a chaotic installation as if frozen in explosion. Deep in thought, I entered another space, to find myself face to face with even better sculptures, a carved-out boulder, flat glass “houses” on wood. Also geometrical drawings of striking elegance. Only then I realized this was hugely famous neugerriemschneider gallery (also very secretive, they don’t do Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter, or even a proper website), and the artist Berlinale jury member Olafur Eliasson. He continues his experiments in form, attaining harmony in all sorts of material. A gallery of many spaces, neugerriemschneider also shows works of Michael Majerus. The artist who died too young in 2002 is known for huge graffiti and fashion influenced paintings. Here, we also find a X...X10L T-Shirt on the wall.
Kuckei&Kuckei&Kicken. That's two galleries, but they should always be mentioned together, for the sake of the sound. Kuckei&Kuckei has an African photo documentary, and a photo group show. The highlight is a framed jigsaw puzzle, unsolved. Or, to be exact: countless snippets that remained from Lily Lulay’s photo editing; instead of throwing them away as would be the obvious option, the artist transformed them into a magnificent image.
Photography is also the core competence of Kicken Gallery. Usually, they show historic, monochrome, small formats on the curved walls of their corridor space, the most impractical architecture in art this side of Parisian Musée Branly. On Gallery Weekend, it's business as usual.
There are quite a lot of photo galleries, or exhibitions, around. One of the better is hosted by Robert Morat Gallery. Mårten Lange, a Swedish photographer with a unique, personal, style, takes care of Berlin's and every other city’s most despised inhabitants: pigeons. His portrays reveal a majestic beauty that you would never have expected. The same misunderstood critters reappear in Markus Huemer’s paintings at DNA Gallery. Not bad, either!
Strolling through the area, you'll easily get distracted from the art. Not only many (touristy) cafés invit to a break, but you may even follow an amateur football match for free on Berlin’s most innercity pitch. The club must have existed here for ages, and be rich enough not to sell their grounds. You might enjoy it with the city’s best ice cream, manufactured at “Eismanufaktur” (indeed: that’s “ice cream manufactory”) immediately opposite of Eigen&Art Gallery. It will be needed to recuperate from the shock, once you realize, that for a change, Eigen&Art does not show German Paintings! I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. Instead, Olaf Nicolai put a chain of glass beads on the floor, to frame the white cube itself, and that’s all there is. It’s supposed to be meditative. I loathe white cubes.
I cannot say the same of House of Cards, but I’ve never seen the blockbuster TV show. Many viewers are addicted to it, including artist Jörg Reckhenrich. In his show at Galerie Gesellschaft (literally: “Gallery Society”), he shows drawings of scenes from the show with added Shakespeare quotes. What a show!
Take a deep breath – following the example of Dongwhan Kang’s The Breathing Machine in a minuscule showroom, that evokes Atman/Brahman and palliative units alike –, and relax, for this is it, the end of wartsmagazine’s three-part-review of Gallery Weekend Berlin 2017!
Or almost, there is something more still... You remember that event for art collectors who’d like to show off, at least once, but cannot afford their proper museum? Proud Collector is back, after taking a break last year, and the managers - a musician/robots and electronics dealer/self-taught artist, and a gallerist without a gallery currently - moved the date from autumn to spring. It happened on Friday and Saturday from night to early, and focused more on the party than the art. It would be a great idea to label the works. Especially as The Grand, the same fashion boutique hotel that hosted the earlier editions, takes much care of its “totally crazy Berlin” attitude. Some interior details could have been artworks, and vice versa.
A German collector apparently bought (parts of) Banksy’s Dismaland project.
You know, a GWB party in a fashion meets art gallery is more fashion than art, when: a) the bar staff is wearing bathrobes, b) fashion show clothes racks stand right next to that bar, c) all alcohol is for free, but hardly anybody profits too much, and if you do, you instinctively cover it up by wiping your nostrils, feigning a more socially adapted reason for feeling momentarily indisposed, d) German TV personalities of the token homosexual type can be spotted among the crowd, e) the performers of a (dance) performance who later take over the bar, keep their clothes on, clothes that are still revealing by their maximum tightness (yet nobody notices the camel in the room), f) you meet doppelgangers of YSL and Claudia Schiffer (or was she supposed to be La Cicchiolina? The “Young Marion Goodman” and the female Slash - no, this was not an 80s theme party! - were probably just accidental), g) the DJ’s wear “creative” customs, or h): all of the above.
This about sums up Pattern at Henrik Springmann Gallery on Gallery Weekend's closing Sunday. There was also an installation translating facial expressions into abstract movements on a screen. Somebody later told me about an attending supermodel, but among all the girls I had, unsuccessfully, desperately, checked out, none was “a brunette with so-and-so a hairstyle”. Last question: Why was there “Le Corbusier” written on the wall, next to the VJ’s name?
Don't forget to read parts one and two!
Berlin Gallery Weekend 2017. Most exhibitions will run for the usual four to six weeks.
World of Arts Magazine – Contemporary Art Criticism