Founded in the early ’90s, in a derelict margarine factory, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art has come to be seen as a symbol of Berlin’s artistic development. After 25 years, it continues operating as a lively platform for progressive art practices, and a meeting place specialised in experimental discursive programming. As part of a larger institutional restructuring process under the new directorship of Krist Gruijthuijsen, every part of KW’s 2017 program of exhibitions and events is filtered through the lens of artistic vision. The new program emphasizes dialogue and experimental uses of language, fostering visible exchange between artists and audiences in Berlin, and beyond. Ongoing investigations into singular art practices or thematics form the basis for corresponding commissions and exhibitions. The open-endedness and collaborative nature that lies at the core of the establishment’s mission creates a profoundly inclusionary place that invites numerous voices, and narratives to unfold through its program and the conversations it inspires in its audience. Thus, KW continues to push beyond the confines of the physical building through artistic commissions and events. Inviting artists to interfere with its physical space is an inextricable element of the institute’s approach. One of the most recent site-specific artworks, Philippe Van Snick’s intervention on the entrance gate, complements already existing pieces like Dan Graham’s glass pavilion housing Café Bravo, Renata Lucas’ pavement restructuring outside the main building, as well as the iconic garden by atelier le balto that has returned to the courtyard.
“A man who wants to lose his self, discovers indeed, the possibilities of human existence, which are infinite, as infinite as is creation. But the recovering of a new personality is as difficult – and as hopeless – as a new creation of the world.” – Hannah Arendt, We Refugees, 1943
Akademie der Künste in Berlin presents Uncertain States, a major group exhibition and multimedia programme of events running until January 15, 2017. Current and historic states of oppression, human migration and cultural dislocation are addressed within a dynamic framework, which has already drawn widespread critical acclaim in Germany. The extensive exhibition programme is a timely exploration of the significance of memory and narrative, within eras of political, social and cultural transformation. Across art, archival ephemera, film, music, performance, talks, pop-up events and practical workshops, the show engages with migrants, thinkers, politicians, writers, artists and activists from across the world, as they confront today’s realities of forced displacement, cultural loss and mass emigration. A historical element of Uncertain States features objects sourced from the Akademie der Künste’s archives of artist émigrés, including cultural icons such as Walter Benjamin, Valeska Gert, Heinrich Mann and Kurt Tucholsky. Their artifacts, rich in memory and cultural identity, form a vibrant narrative when paired with artworks by modern-day artists. In addition to the group exhibition, a rich programme of events seeks to contextualize global political perspectives on migration and identity, within an artistic framework. Talks and panels will debate the topics of migration from the Middle East in particular, addressing themes such as reactionary xenophobia and Islamophobia. Under the banner of “Thinking Space” (Denkraum) a programme of concerts, readings, theatrical performances and symposia, tackle numerous questions surrounding these topics with original and challenging approaches.
Cycle Music and Art Festival serves as an international and local platform for contemporary music and visual arts as well as the coalition of the two fields. Now in its second year, the festival promulgates unconventional works and collaborations, with the goal of deeply engaging the audience and making them reconsider their preconceptions about disciplines and their role as spectators. Acclaimed artists are invited to produce and exhibit work that transcends the boundaries between art and music, classical and popular modes, and audience and performer. That Time, the title of this year’s performance programme and exhibition, will initiate yet another interdisciplinary experiment that will delve into the questions of ‘deep time’ and ‘peak futures’ (the title takes its cue from Samuel Beckett’s eponymous play, parroting the protagonist C: “Never the same after that never quite the same but that was nothing new.”). With an exhibition at Gerðarsafn Kópavogur Art Museum and other venues in Kópavogur, and a rich programme of performances, workshops and concerts, Cycle will promote experimentation, on-site synergies, and will seek to redefine the nature of a traditional art festival. That Time will run until 18 December.
After the Second World War, military edifices constructed for protective purposes were left abandoned and consumed by dismal emptiness. Germany, in particular, is replete with bunkers that in recent years have assumed a variety of new roles, from residential spaces to cultural institutions. One such concrete behemoth built in 1943 in Munich’s Ungererstrasse, houses BNKR, a multifaceted art space offering room for present-day visions without ignoring the past. The main focus of BNKR’s programme is to instigate reflection on our present reality in the realms of art, design and architecture. In the contemporary transformation of the bunker, with its new use and orientation as an art space, an unavoidable tension is created that oscillates between remembering and forgetting, past and future. The project was founded in 2014 , in order to give a format to art and architecture, to promote exchange and dialogue. BKNR collaborates with external curators over the course of one year to develop a programme that uses exhibitions, performances, lectures, discussions, film screenings, concerts and more to raise questions situated in the notion of the ‘in-between’, whether that’s referring to time, space or mental states. Currently on show, the solo exhibition Urban Shelter by Annett Zinsmeister examines the specific history, meaning and transience of shelters.
Is blood thicker than water after all? The widely known proverb implies that family relationships are stronger than friendships and should never be substituted by the latter. However, a new exhibition at the Kunstpalais in Erlangen titled Thicker than Water: Family concepts in contemporary art seeks to challenge this dogmatic opinion by initiating a discussion on the meaning of family within the ever-evolving contemporary society. In order to delve deeper into how the classical family structures have changed over recent years, the exhibition has invited the artists Candice Breitz, Simon Fujiwara, Badr el Hammami & Fadma Kaddouri, Nan Goldin, Verena Jaekel, Haejun Jo, Nina Katchadourian, Ragnar Kjartansson, Neozoon, Johannes Paul Raether, Gillian Wearing and Tobias Yves Zintel to present their understanding of the term through pieces of art. Developments in technology, and the appearance and acceptance of new lifestyles influence the broad social debate about family, leading to question whether the term is now open to all individual interpretations. Taking into consideration that familia, the Latin origin of the word, translates to household, the exhibition suggests that the term could refer to a community based on voluntary commitment rather than blood relations. Therefore, the main question that arises is: Is family nowadays based on a personal choice and no longer a genetic chance? The exhibition will be accompanied by a conference inviting speakers from sociology, art history, literature and cultural studies to discuss this interdisciplinary topic.
CREDITS Christopher Roth – I Am In Paris, 2015, Courtesy: the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin Photo: © Andrea Rossetti / Andreas Schulze – Untitled (Vacanze/Son) , 2016, Copyright Andreas Schulze / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn Courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers / SIMON MULLAN – Franz, 2016, Photo: Jens Ziehe, Copyright Simon Mullan, Courtesy DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin) / Saâdane Afif – Installation view from the series L’Eternité, Courtesy the artist and Mehdi Couakri / Sean Snyder – Mnemonic Equation (Level 3), 2015 – 2016, Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Neu, Berlin
The maxim remains the same: one gallery, one artist. This September, the 9th edition of abc art berlin contemporary will return to Station Berlin, continuing its commitment to a format that places the artist and their presentation of work at the center. Founded by a group of Berlin galleries, abc invites around 60 national and international galleries to showcase solo presentations of artists within their program. abc’s continual development and transformation reflects characteristic features of the city—a passion for experimentation and openness to evolution and change. On Friday night—which is the Gallery Night (16 September)—all participating Berlin-based galleries will open their doors to invite collectors, curators and art enthusiasts into their spaces and exhibitions. While on the following Saturday and Sunday afternoon, a series of talks and performances involving artists, curators and galleries will allow the public to gain a deeper insight into specific topics and works. Find the entire program of events here. A complete list of this year’s participating galleries and artists can be found here.
Following its opening to the public in February 2016, Dusseldorf’s Wehrhahn line is now in full use and worth revisiting to dissect its singular aspects in more detail. Fifteen years in the making, the recently acquired U-bahn expansion is a refreshing approach to inner-city mobility and a nod to the future possibilities of public transport aesthetics. Collectively designed by artists, architects and engineers from the very outset, the ambitious project offers an unparalleled art and architecture experience to commuters who are invited to immerse themselves in soundscapes, geometric animations and sculptural installations. Here art is not merely showcased on the walls but it has deeply infiltrated the entire structure—each of the line’s six stations have become pieces of art complete with their own thematic character but also seamlessly incorporated in an all-encompassing system. And that’s certainly not the norm when it comes to public transport—the line’s overarching concept initiates a dialogue between disciplines that’s visually perceptible throughout. From acoustic impulses, sound bites and interactive installations to a planetary underworld dedicated to outer space and poetic texts transformed into sculptures, the line’s stops highly elevate the long-neglected notion of the subway. At the Heinrich-Heine-Allee station, artist Ralf Brög designed the three entrances as visual and acoustic venues for the performance of changing sound compositions—an “Auditorium”, a “Theater” and a “Laboratory”. Each of the three model spaces boasts a high-quality sound system, enabling the most wide-ranging acoustic interventions possible.
Space is the place at Benrather Strasse where sculptor Thomas Stricker embedded the vastness of the universe with its tranquility and weightlessness into the confined space of a subway station. To achieve the impression of flying in outer space, stainless steel panels cover the walls and lend the station a futuristic dull, metallic sheen. Like droplets, the dots stamped in the panels fall from the walls, forming a matrix or a kind of Braille that can be identified as encrypted letters while media walls act as windows to the universe.
At Schadowstrasse, Ursula Damm has created an interactive installation featuring a large screen displaying the real-time movements of passersby on the city surface transformed through a computer program into visualised data. The constantly shifting dynamic of the ‘outside world’ is presented to those waiting for the next train below. Small virtual creatures build a temporary, fluctuating architecture from the kinetic energy that emerges and vanishes with the city’s daily rhythms.
Another crucial element of this feat is the complete absence of advertisements and any sort of commercial placement. Thus, the individual stations become calm public spaces that alleviate commuting stress, render urban movement more pleasurable, and slow down the frenetic pace. Admittedly, exemplary underground stops are nothing new in the map of so-called “art stations”—in Naples the Toledo stop covered in blue-hued mosaics pays tribute to the aquatic world; Stockholm’s Solna station emits the ambience of a villain’s lair complete with a cavernous interior; while in Moscow the Komsomolskaya stop competes with the theatrical flair of opulent palaces. What’s unprecedented about Dusseldorf’s Wehrhan line is that these “art stations” are not merely stand-alone architectural projects but are part of a holistic network that seamlessly connects all six stops under one conceptual direction, creating a multifarious experience.
In a special edition published by Kerber Verlag, the impressive undertaking in public transport is thoroughly presented through photos and text elaborating on the project and the visions of the people involved. The Wehrhahn line is also accompanied by a newly launched website that delves into the line’s concept, process and distinctive characteristics—have a look here.
In reference to this year’s graphic and thematic superstructure focusing on migration, we asked the Swiss Art Awards participants to express how their trajectory has altered their perception and how they define the notions of “Heimat” and “identity”. Constantly evolving, the term “home” can be seen as an abstract entity that has procured a number of meanings and is undoubtedly embedded in human consciousness. Even though our introduction to the idea of home is usually situated within a specific topographic context, down the line, it’s denuded of geographical connotations and acquires a much more social and emotional basis. Home ceases to be synonymous to habitat as it assumes a more existential character that demands to be redefined incessantly. In a way, seeking something that you can identify as home is seeking your own identity, something you can genuinely identify with. Much like Homer’s Odysseus who, upon losing track of what he considers home, begins to lose track of himself too. Is home a notion that defines our existence and the extension of our inner selves?
“Both notions are too unstable and dynamic to allow for a clear answer. I can just say that ‘Heimat’, and therefore any understanding of the ‘I’, are in constant mutation, much like our social milieu is. In other words, the constitution of an ‘identity’ is closer to a permanent migration than to any abused values of safety and stability.” —Pascal Schwaighofer is an artist who sees metaphors as a conceptual tool to unfold specific subjects, and ultimately to enquire the interconnections between aesthetic concepts and economic regulatory cycles.
“Migration as a fever. A symptom of the state of the world.” —Chri Frautschi is a curator and the founder of Lokal-int, a space for contemporary art and experimental happenings in Biel.
“The earth belongs to everyone. Everyone is welcome home. Fuck the concept of homeland and all populist parties stirring up hatred between peoples, just for their little personal benefit. My art is a cry of rage against conformism.” —Hayane Kam Nakache is a painter who favours recycling and the concept of DIY. According to Hayane, the quality of the finish is not important, the important thing is to do it yourself.
“In contrast to ‘fatherland’, which is linked to a geographically defined place, the word ‘home’ is more abstract idea and, to a certain extent, is related to impermanence. The possibility of change and migration has altered its meaning—now several locations or communities may constitute a ‘home’ at the same time.” — In her sculptures, video installations and performances, Dominique Koch deals with the communicative and referential limits of language and uses the voice as a communication tool.
“The word ‘Heimat’ doesn’t really mean anything to me anymore – it’s a ceaselessly moving place. Home is an institution without walls, whose architecture is not still or limited.” —Jeanne Graff, an independent curator and writer, is constantly trying to develop new contexts to show art in a way that’s engaging for both the artists and the audience.
“We are not just because we think, we are because of our human and physical context. Migration abandons pre-consolidated ideas of affection and home—that’s why I consider it particularly painful and moving.” —Martino Pedrozzi develops architectural, urban and landscape concepts and works as a consultant for infrastructural projects.
“After several generations of relative safety and stability, we often tend to lose our sense of history, and then we come to see the current crisis as a somehow distant phenomenon. Therefore, we fail to perceive that these events are at the core of our very existence. We have to take into account that identity is a process and not a fixed principle, otherwise it can be a dangerous notion.” —Aurelien Gamboni develops a practice of critical investigation by means of art, often involving field research and collaborations, and leading to multiple forms of installations, texts and lectures-performances.
Credits: House of Mixed Emotions by Jeanne Graff / Sceru, 2015, Photo: Pino BrioschiAurélien / Gamboni, Les corps attrapés par le discours, étagère encastrée, livres et autres objets (detail), 2015. Courtesy the artist
What started as a platform for experimental publishing and singular editions straddling the line between art object and reading material, has now become an integral part of the annual Art Week Basel. The art book fair I Never Read, Art Book Fair Basel now in its fifth edition, invites more than a hundred publishers, authors and artists from numerous countries to display their printed matter spanning the fields of art, photography, graphic design and architecture. An ever-growing selection of exhibitors introduces visitors to artists’ books, monographs, periodicals and zines, as well as out-of-print editions and collector’s items. Showing how the print world can evolve and thrive instead of dissolving into the shadow cast by the digital world (as many pseudo-evangelists were too quick to proclaim), the fair is an ode to the book as a democratic art form and an approachable medium for creative expression. What’s thoroughly explored here is the role of contemporary publishing in an increasingly on-screen era and how the art book provides a haven for artistic practice and how it builds a less market-driven community.
Galerie Neu presents its first solo exhibition of the Los Angeles-born, New York-based photographic artist Anne Collier, which will trace her career from the early 2000’s up until present day. As one of the most exciting artists’ emerging in the field of photography, her imagery is romantic, sentimental and clichéd. She addresses these themes using a manual 4-by-5-inch camera and chemical processing and printing, a technique overly present in recent works such as Tripod (2016) and 35 MM / 2 ¼” (2016), both which feature in the exhibition. In these works Collier mixes stock advertising photography of camera equipment with materials depicting ostentatious sexism, shot in the neutral space of her studio. In doing this, the artist undertakes an autopsy of the photographic material and subsequently creates paradox between the original intentions of the investigated objects and the absolute control of a studio photography context.