Gallery Weekend Berlin is back with some 47 participating galleries, putting their best foot forward, and presenting emerging and established artists throughout the city. Berlin becomes a magnet for international collectors, curators and museum professionals, affording its visitors room to explore and discover new art across its districts. Not dictated by the fast pace of art fairs but having time to view large-scale gallery exhibitions, is very much in line with Berlin as a city of artists. Over decades many have flocked here to explore their creative outlook and this year’s special focus is on artists living in Berlin, who have helped shape the city as an art metropolis.
Late at night, emerging from the cavernous studio on 46 rue Hippolyte-Maindron, a lonesome figure would inhabit the streets of postwar Paris. In this famously chaotic space, consumed by inner doubts and obsessions, Alberto Giacometti worked relentlessly, with feverish urge to forge a new human; walking away from the rubble of destruction. In London, on the other side of Channel, the younger artist Francis Bacon admired Giacometti from afar, fascinated by the famous sculptor’s aura of intensity and compulsion. In the following years the two went to develop a personal relationship punctuated by both friendship and rivalry. The artist Isabel Rawsthorne was one such connection, a close friend, muse and model to both artists, whose stark portraits feature on several works on display. Special focus, at this exhibition at Fondation Beyeler, is given to investigating their distinct isolation of space; subjects enclosed by means of cage-like entities, foregrounded in key works such as Giacometti’s La Cage (1949-1950) and Bacon’s Study ofa Nude (1952). Like Giacometti, Bacon’s arrival to the ‘truth of his subject’ was rooted in failure and frequent moments of crisis; the artistic act an outcome of frenzied and conflicting struggle between artist and his creation. Beyond their obvious differences in terms of style and iconography, both absorbed so much of l’air du temps through which they lived, rendered in the immediacy and emotional charge of their work. Encompassing circa 100 works and numerous original plaster figures from Giacometti that have never been seen before, the exhibition seeks to untangle the complex layers of their relationship. Formulated across four main thematic sections, it reveals new strands of thought connecting the two masters of modern art.
My stool is an Athlete. Me too? In conjunction with Milan Design Week 2018, Vitra presents the exhibition Typecasting, a panorama of some 200 objects curated by designer Robert Stadler. The Austrian designer looks at the furniture in this installation outside the context of conventional categories, such as their functional uses or historical origins. Instead, he regards them as characters and assigns them to groups that reflect stereotypical behaviour patterns and personality profiles in contemporary society. Drawing on the extensive Vitra archives, the show places current products alongside icons, prototypes, special editions, rejects and future visions. Another central question is how changes in society could affect established furniture typologies. Various designers – including Konstantin Grcic, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, and Commonplace Studio – were invited to develop ideas for a collective living space under the title The Communal Sofa.
Certain works of art are important historically but no longer offer us experiential quality. Louise Bourgeois, whose life spanned nearly the entire 20th century, used art as a way of understanding herself, inventing a distinctive visual world containing raw self-expression and emotion. Much like the maze-like structures of her famous Cells, which she invoked as visual expressions of memory, her mind was a complex puzzle. Schinkel Pavillon invites us to enter the last two decades of her life, through focussed selection of works in diverse media featuring the sack form. They first appeared in her writings and later sculptures, as empty and hollow structures, which she often confined with other personal objects inside the intensely psychological space of Cells. Spanning the entire octagonal room of Schinkel Pavillon the visitors encounter Peaux des lapins, chiffons ferrailles à vendre (2006), one of her largest Cells. Where surrealists focused on the more fantastic elements of the subconscious, Bourgeois played with more subtle ideas of the uncanny. Like other remarkable sculptures she created using fabrics, the sacks are made of delicate chiffon in various tones of pink, pushing the borders between seduction and repulsion. Inside her highly symbolic microcosm their incomplete anthropomorphic form suggests a dysfunctional architectural unit, an empty house, or an infertile woman’s body.
from Work/Travail/Arbeid by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Rosas
Drawing on formal principles from geometry, numerical patterns, the natural world, and social structures, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s choreography investigates different perspectives on the body’s articulation in space and time. Her collaborative practice is driven by fascination with intertwining of sound and movement, creating a wide-ranging body of work that engages the musical structures and scores of several periods, from early music to contemporary and popular idioms. What would it mean for choreography to perform as an exhibition? This question was a point of departure for Work/Travail/Arbeid (2015), which will stage its German debut at Volksbühne. In response, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker reformulated her earlier piece Vortex Temporum (2013), transforming the original choreography for a condensed spatio-temporal environment of a stage to an expanded format of an exhibition space. Work/Travail/Arbeid (2015) will unfold over the course of four days, allowing audience to enter at any time. Transgressing the conditions that have long been essential for dance, the project gives new form to her rigorous choreographic language.
The Catastrophe Colours 2018. An Exhibition by Gonzalez Haase AAS and June 14 Meyer-Grohbrügge & Chermayeff, Photography: Dominik Gigler
A rejection of colour has come to characterise the aesthetic of modern architecture. White and monochromatic tones were often seen as the antithesis of purity, honesty and authenticity. Stemming from a time that defies any categorization, can contemporary architecture embody a more complex and shifting relationship to colour? Reaffirming the status of colour as primarily a sensory perception, architecture office Gonzalez Haase AAS has developed the book Catastrophe Colours, underlining a critical approach to colour theory in the present. By confronting media images of catastrophes with their inherent chromatic essence, the book establishes a new inventory of colour. One that is based on research, linkage and storytelling, echoing the basic components of our information society. For this exhibition at BNKR, Gonzalez Haase collaborated with June14 Meyer-Grohbrügge & Chermayeff, to arrange various catastrophe colours into new sets of colour like Middle East Conflict, Vietnam War, Cold War, Nuclear Disaster, Oil Spills and Terrorism. Such new samples are specifically adopted from a political context, transforming colour patterns into narratives. An event as part of the program „Stop making sense, it’s as good as it gets.“ curated by Ludwig Engel and Joanna Kamm.
Nightclubs and discothèques are hotbeds of contemporary culture. Since the 20th century, they have been centres of the avant-garde that question the established codes of social life and experiment with different realities. Interior and furniture design merges with graphics, and art with sound, light, fashion and special effects to create a modern Gesamtkunstwerk. Night Fever is the first exhibition to give a comprehensive overview of the design history of the nightclub, examining its cultural context from numerous perspectives. Examples range from Italian clubs of the 1960s created by the protagonists of Radical Design to the legendary Studio 54 where Andy Warhol was a regular, from the Palladium in New York designed by Arata Isozaki to more recent concepts by the OMA architecture studio for the Ministry of Sound in London. Featuring films and vintage photographs, posters, flyers and fashion, the exhibition incorporates music, light and spatial installations to take visitors on a fascinating journey through a world of glamour and subcultures – always in search of the night that never ends. In a night that never ends, the exhibition begs the question of whether the disco culture has evolved into a particular direction.
As an homage to the American architect and theorist John Hejduk, one of KW’s courtyard façades has been repurposed to resemble his anthropomorphic structures attributing facial features to concrete buildings through structural masks. Judith Hopf, the artist behind this permanent architectural intervention, refers to the aesthetics of the Kreuzberg Tower and its adjacent wings in Berlin as a nod to Hejduk’s large-scale transformations. This artistic commission is an extension of Hopf’s upcoming solo show Stepping Stairs at KW, and it’s been made possible thanks to Outset Germany_Switzerland. Established in 2003, Outset is the only international, independent charity pooling donations from patron circles and partners to supports the creation of new art. Drawing on their network of experts, their aim is to identify what is most needed in the arts and respond with tailor-made funding solutions. Projects that challenge thinking and further the artistic discourse to reach new and wider audiences are at the forefront of the initiative’s activities. This spans education, professional development, the production of new work and exhibitions, institutional collecting, and initiatives that underpin the creative infrastructure for the long term.
Jordan Wolfson, Riverboat Song, 2017 (video still)
Employing digital imaging and animatronic sculpture, Jordan Wolfson’s practice is centred on ideas of literal and virtual reality, especially the projection of inner impulses – desire, violence or guilt – into constructed scenarios. At Schinkel Pavillon, Wolfson’s Riverboat Song reveals a surreal nightmare drawn from the banalities and horrors of contemporary life and its online extension. Combining animation and found clips, pop soundtracks and voiceover, the filmic piece revolves around a Huckleberry Finn-style character delivering deadpan statements. Formulaic elements of the internet, such as avatars, memes, clips and mash-ups, coalesce into a dark psychodrama that’s both disturbing and enthralling. Through a splicing of images and a disconnect between image and script, Riverboat Song erases the line between the perverse and the gleeful. The fictive world of animation, which grows more lurid as the video progresses, is contrasted by the found reality of YouTube footage. Throughout his latest work, Wolfson exploits the distortions of cartoon to render the reality of human acts and behaviours without moralizing. The power of Wolfson’s work owes equally to the visceral impact of its complex representations – which slide seamlessly from banal to violent, and from vividly imaginary to scarily real.
Pin-up girls, comic book figures and supermarket products collide upon one another – a diverse mix rendered in brash colors that was soon to make history as Pop Art. Collage became Eduardo Paolozzi’s primary artistic strategy as he employed it in his search for a new visual language and iconography for mass culture and industrialized society. In his glued pictorial worlds, man and machine constantly intersect — an element that derives from the artist’s particular interest in science and technology. Essentially, Paolozzi’s aim was to eradicate the boundaries between high culture and popular art, merging them into one entity. This exhibition is based on Whitechapel Gallery’s 2017 Eduardo Paolozzi retrospective in London which showed the complete works ofthe artist. In contrast to the London show, the Berlinische Galerie focuses on his idiosyncratic and experimental work of the 1940s to the 1970s with which the artist attracted much international acclaim. Additionally, one of the key chapters of the exhibition centres around the artist’s productive year in Berlin (1975/75) and the work he developed inspired by the city, out of his Kreuzberg studio around Kottbusser Damm.