Art Goes to the Movies
A Preview of Berlin Art Week

Halil Altindere’s response to European fears of an excessive influx of foreigners is both ironic and irate. He calls his project at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein Space Refugee, bringing into play space as a refuge for asylum seekers. At the center of his exhibition is a film about the former Syrian cosmonaut Muhammed Ahmed Faris, who flew aboard the Mir space station in 1987. Today, the erstwhile “Hero of the Soviet Union” and member of the democratic movement in opposition to dictator Assad lives as a refugee in Istanbul. The show of the Turkish artist, who is represented at the current Berlin Biennale with his video Homeland, is one of the highlights of this year’s Berlin Art Week, for which the most important art institutions, galleries, and project spaces in the German capital have again joined forces.

The Deutsche Bank KunstHalle has partnered with the initiative from the very beginning. With Common Affairs, the KunstHalle is presenting a selection of works by the winners and nominees of the “Views Award” for contemporary Polish art. Aside from installations and sculptures, many films are being shown, a medium to which a separate event of Berlin Art Week is devoted. Initiated by the Haubrok Foundation, films by artists including Kenneth Anger, Sharon Lockhart, Olaf Nicolai, and Cerith Wyn Evans are being shown throughout the day on September 14 on the large screen of Kino International. The films were selected by the curator Marc Glöde, who made a name for himself with his film program for Art Basel.

Films also feature prominently in the work of Laure Prouvost. Her most recent video, Lick in the Past, which was made in Los Angeles, is on view at abc, where 60 international galleries are presenting individual projects and new works by contemporary artists. The Turner Prize winner is represented in the Deutsche Bank Collection and the MMK in Frankfurt is currently devoting a large show to her. Like Prouvost, Raphaela Vogel also often integrates film works in elaborate installations. With i smell a massacre she transformed a fair booth into a surreal environment between a horror film and a natural history museum. Painting fans are also in for a treat at the tradeshow, with Despina Stokou, Eberhard Havekost, Marcel Dzama, and Andreas Schulze represented in the halls near Gleisdreieck station, where the ABC has been held for nine years.

Another focus of the Berlin Art Week is performance. Anne Imhof is one of the most intersting young protagonists of this genere. In 2015, she was awarded the Preis der Nationalgalerie. At Hamburger Bahnhof, the graduate of the Städelschule in Frankfurt is staging a performance devoted to a very contemporary issue: fear. She is performing every evening from 8 pm to midnight from September 14 to 25. Her choreographies are akin to cryptic rituals that change with each performance. They not only include an ensemble of youth actors, but also drones and live falcons. With her hypnotic pieces, Imhof manages to continually transform a feeling prevailing among large parts of society into beautiful yet disturbing images.

At Positions, Berlin’s newest art fair, a change of locations seems to part of the program. Following the former Kaufhaus Jandorf and the Arena, the third edition is being staged at the Postbahnhof, where 74 galleries from 13 countries are exhibiting newcomers and interesting rediscoveries. Here the young media artist Pola Sieverding is on the agenda, but also painters like Rainer Fetting, Xenia Hauser and Patrick Angus. The artist who died in 1992 primarily found his motifs in New York’s demimonde and subculture.  

Another chronicler of “the other America” is Gordon Parks, to whom c/o Berlin is dedicating an outstanding retrospective. Black lives matter: The photographer has accompanied African Americans’ struggle for equality for many years, focusing on issues such as poverty, ostracism, and injustice, which today are still as highly charged as ever. In the 1940s and 50s, he photographed glamorous fashion models for “Vogue” while simultaneously documenting racial segregation in the American South. In 1971, he became a successful Hollywood director with his movie Shaft. Boasting a cool Isaac Hayes soundtrack, it caused a sensation worldwide.

Those who prefer conceptual art should head to the Akademie der Künste. With subversive humor, Edmund Kuppel, who won the Käthe-Kollwitz-Preis this year, demonstrates that we cannot always trust our perception and the images produced cameras. An absolute must are the first joint works Roger Ballen and Asger Carlsen - their exhibition No Joke presents digitally and analogically edited black-and-white photo collages revoling around suppressed feelings, aggressions, and sexuality.

Berlin Art Week
9/13/2016 – 9/18/2016