Richard Serra, Berlin Junction, 1987 / Otto Herbert Hajek, Stadtzeichen/Gruppe von drei ” Raumzeichen”, 1972–1974 / Ulrich Brüschke, 0° Breite, 2012 | Photo: Mathias Rümmler
Hidden and eye-catching, obsolete and modern, unremarkable and prominent, the sight of public art in Berlin is ubiquitous, and its reception divisive. From larger then life sculptures to subtle textual interventions in unusual urban contexts, “Marmor für Alle” sets the encounter with some of the most important and public art across the city. After 1945, a boom began in the East and West Berlin, punctuating numerous places of assembly with some of the most iconic and cult fixtures: “Hand with Watch” by German artist Joachim Schmettau that featured in Depeche Mode music video, “Denkzeichen Rosa Luxemburg” by the infamous conceptual artist Hans Haacke, or the towering “Molecule Man” by Jonathan Borowsky rising from the Spree. Zooming in on different districts, each section of the book reveals and vivifies elements of the city’s biography through works of public art – evidencing the historical events and political ideas that shaped them.
Museums are more then guardians of our material culture and narrators of alternative histories – they are witnesses to eras of dramatic battles and great triumphs, and moments of hope and happiness, which are inscribed in the biography of the buildings. Each of the eight-part documentary series The Art of Museums takes the audience on a visit to one of the world-class museums, accompanied by the art historian Dr. Matt Lodder, a lecturer at the University of Essex. The films also give viewers a look behind the otherwise closed doors of restoration workshops and depot rooms. In the Prado, curators unveil the largest Goya collection in the world. At the Musée d’Orsay, we take a look at the colour layers of Impressionist masterpieces with restorers, or enter a secret room in the high-security wing of the Oslo Munch Museum, which houses “The Scream,” one of the world’s most expensive paintings. Every visit unfolds as a personal encounter between one of the masterworks and a renowned artist and designer such as Jonathan Meese, Marina Abramovic, Norman Foster, Ólafur Elíasson, Vivianne Westwood and Wolfgang Joop, who each inject their own idiosyncratic outlook into the mediation of works.
As a vital instrument for promoting the work of both younger artists and established figures, the main section of the fair will present a comprehensive overview of contemporary positions, with six Brazilian galleries joining together to present contemporary Latin American art, while four Austrian galleries will focus on sculpture. Continuing on the fair’s commitment to experimenting with the modes of display and overturning the expectations of a commercial fair, art berlin will also offer a blizzard of other strands. Galleries such as Sprüth Magers, Galerie Neu and neugerriemschneider are highlighting solo presentations and curated projects, maintaining the fair’s original commitment to a more comprehensive overview of individual artistic practices. Inaugurating the fair’s new Salon format, a large-scale group exhibition curated by Paris-based curator Tenzing Barshee, will bring together works from more then 40 galleries in a customized spatial configuration, designed by the upcoming London-based architect Alessandro Bava. In the close proximity to the main building and as part of the surrounding outdoor park, art berlin will present a number of new sculptures.
“The bright sun was extinguished, morning came and went and came, and brought no day,” noted the Romantic poet Lord Byron in his diary, amidst the general atmosphere of mysterious darkness and cataclysmic desolation that hit the world in 1815. The year when the warm-bright and flaming red pyroclastic flows of hot volcanic debris rolled down the volcano atop the paradise landscape of Indonesian island of Sobwoa, catalyzing one of the world’s biggest natural climate crises. The volcano’s name Tambora, which translates as “an invitation to disappear” ominously signified the dystopian scenario that in its monumental and global impact on landscape, reconciled the sublime beauty and pervasive atrocity. The ensuing “year without summer” aggregated global floods and famines but it also produced unexpected beauty that rose from the ruinous decay. The sunsets changed due to the countless aerosols in the atmosphere, diversifying the spectrum of colours, that would later resurface in the luminous surfaces of J.M.W. Turner and Caspar David Friedrich during this period. Some 200 years later the invitation to disappear confronts the contemporary hyper-industrialized society with anthropogenic dimensions, leaving strange new synthetic forms in the environment that loom with a premonition of “a year without winter.” Through a trans-disciplinary and multifaceted field of research that inventively links geology, biology, physics, history and archaeology, the artist Julian Charrière delves into post-romantic constructions of nature, where deep geological timescales are brought into tension with those of the mankind. Hosted at Berghain, his audio visual performance Invitation to Disappear projects adistant burning image of a synthetic jungle, emerging through a mullti-sensory journey between flickering light and spectral techno, soundtracked by Inland. Julian Charrière will also present a new spatial installation As We Used to Float at Berlinische Galerie.
The exhibition cycle SPACE IS THE PLACEstarts with the group exhibition Thresholds. Limits of Space. Based on Bruce Nauman’s seminal work Body Pressure (1974) which provides a set of typed out instructions for merging their bodies with an architectural surface, the exhibition explores the corporal-spatial unit of critically experiencing space through the works of different generations of artists. In her ingenious single channel video performance entitled Little Frank and His Carp (2001), the American artist Andrea Fraseris for example seen walking around the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao listening to the institution’s official audio guide, which culminates in an equally ironic and erotic encounter between the artist and the architecture. Wermke/Leinkauf investigate the surmounting of architectures in Berlin’s former border area in a 6-channel slide projection. Here, archive images from 1974/75 depicting East German border troops simulating an escape at a so called “Lehrgrenze“ (“training border“) serve as source material for the German artist duo. The work reflects upon the former border situation and deals in a playful way with history, freedom and memory. With new in-situ works Jeewi Lee and Raul Walchalso dedicate themselves to artistic conquest of spatial borderlines in interior and exterior spaces. Jeewi Lee’s Einschlag (“Impact”) ingeniously inverts the actual purpose of a wrecking ball as an instrument to bring down walls and demolish buildings. Hanging from the ceiling of the former bomb shelter, the wrecking ball appears as if after an act of destruction. Obvious traces of deformation caused by the inner walls of the exhibition space show on the wrecking ball and not as originally preconceived. Here, the wrecking ball itself becomes a metaphorical depiction of the brutal history of the WWII bunker. Raul Walchtakes the discourse into the urban realm with a series of work entitled Eureka. In Berlin and Munich, Walch transforms city hydrants in the surrounding urban environment into ephemeral fountains.
The emotionally charged narratives of Polish-French painter Balthus, an anti-modernist beloved by modernists, are poignant, loaded, somewhat cryptical and sensuous. Too often they serve as backdrops to foregrounding the provocative undertones of his infamous mise-en-scénes where young girls recline in between states of dream-like repose and enraptured reawakening. Balthus himself dismissed attributing any perceived eroticism to viewers with unclean minds. What makes his work actual and up-to-date is the way it reconfigures certain moral dilemmas in light of different cultural moments, and raises the question about the role of censorship in relation to artistic freedom. Born Balthasar Klossowski, he cultivated an air of mystery and myth, secluding himself in old-world country houses and castles in France, Italy, and Switzerland. A new retrospective at Fondation Beyeler reaffirms the artist’s long-standing relationship to Switzerland and seeks to expose a multifaceted legacy by bringing to light a broader picture. It seems as if Balthus, who lived through nearly the entire 20th century, delighted in perfecting a visual language that feels outside history, nurturing an eccentric detachment from modernism. Taking the little known and monumental work Passage du Commerce-Saint-Andréas a focal point, the exhibition manifests the artist’s intensive engagement with the dimensions of space and time, as a way of distilling and constructing the relationship between the figure and object. The ethos of our age aspires to respond with action to subjects we find unsettling, disturbing or troubling but the work of art cannot be tamed, only responses to it.
Berlin is a fascinating yet chaotic whirlwind of clashing architectural sites, with some of its most monumental and distinctive landmarks inherited from the German Democratic Republic era. Distinctively embodying the GDR’s engineering ambitions, Funkhaus is a colossal broadcasting centre and studio complex designed during the 1950s by the distinguished Bauhaus architect Franz Ehrlich. His job was to create the world’s largest and most sophisticated recording facility that promised to be an ideal marriage of German functionality and Eastern decadence. It was constructed to symbolize the virtues of equality, collectivity and openness by bringing a wide array of musical genres under one roof. Red Bull Music Academy is celebrating their 20th anniversary at the historic complex, which has been converted into a creative microcosm. 61 international musicians have been selected to participate in the Academy, they will have the opportunity to exchange ideas, learn new things and expand their musical vocabulary. Design studio New Tendency has created a bespoke furniture collection for the Academy, combining lounge modules, tables and sofas that bring back the essence of Bauhaus design principles and through a poetic and playful tone rejuvenate the functional and rational aesthetic of the interiors. Part of the transformation is an exhibition showcasing Berlin’s established and most promising emerging artists. Hailing from different generations, the artists have been carefully selected by Johann König. The exhibition takes central stage at the Lecture Hall with large-scale paintings by Karl Horst Hödicke, a pioneer of German neo-expressionism and a representative of the New Figuration, depicting Berlin in the decades before and after the fall of the wall.
What is the significance of writing about film, whether in print or online, to the constitution of artistic communities today? Taking Film Culture, the cult publication on avant-garde cinema, founded by Jonas and Adolfas Mekas in 1954, as the central point of reference, Edit Film Culture! curates a multi-faceted programme housed at silent green Kulturquartier. The historic space of the former Wedding crematorium will be activated by an independent yet correlated sequences of talks, screenings, exhibitions and installations. On this occasion a temporary library will be set up, making 79 issues of the magazine available first-hand, with special focus on the 80th issue honouring and bringing to light the fascinating and pioneering figure of feminist filmmaker Barbara Rubin. Drawing on the relevance and legacy of Film Culture as a key source for measuring the pulse of the American avant-garde film, there will be talks by scholars and filmmakers, investigating the historical and social context of its production. A film series at Kino Arsenal will highlight a diversity of artistic approaches to filmmaking associated with the magazine.
A monumental, 50-meter-long and 2.5-meter-high artwork sweeps along the Städel Garden in Frankfurt. The colossal outdoor sculpture was developed by Düsseldorf-based artist Manuel Franke for the freely accessible garden of the Städel Museum. The Städel Garden will receive a new, physically tangible border through this expansive gesture. Half sculpture and half painting, Colormaster F opposes a curved membrane in bright monochrome colors, delicately inclining over the grassy area that is encircled on three sides by buildings. As an insurmountable obstacle, Franke’s object obscures the usual view, but makes the lawn hill tangible in a completely new way. Colormaster F not only changes the garden in its spatial constellation, but also creates another, additional space within the garden, which is both open and closed. In addition, the artwork invites visitors to play, explore and drift, allowing them to take part in a completely new and interactive experience at the revived Städel Garden. Manuel Franke’s questions always deal with the limits of art and society. In his artistic practice, he frequently performs interventions in space that oscillate between sculpture, installation and image. In doing so, he always works in a site-specific way, incorporating the architectural and urban structures of the environment into his work as well as the political, historical and social context. Consequently, the architecture of the Städel Garden and the Städel Museum become an integral part of Colormaster F, with the sculpture playfully correlating to its architectonic counterpart.
By recognizing the movers and shakers of the creative landscape, Swiss Art Awards exhibition provides a representative overview and unique insight into contemporary art and architecture in Switzerland. A definitive index for art professionals and art lovers alike, Swiss Art Awards will honour 11 winners, while the laureates of this year’s Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim are the artists Sylvie Fleury and Thomas Hirschhorn, and influential architect Luigi Snozzi. During the course of the exhibition, regular performances and workshops will be held.