The Capital Bundles Its Strengths
A Preview of Berlin Art Week

The gallery owner and exhibition maker René Block is a trailblazer for contemporary art in Germany. At the young age of 22, he opened his West Berlin gallery in 1964, presenting the legendary exhibition Neodada, Decollage, and Capitalist Realism, which offered a forum to hitherto unknown artists such as Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Joseph Beuys, and Nam June Paik. Early on, Block became involved in progressive movements such as Fluxus and Happenings, as well as the democratization of art. In 1966, he founded Edition Block, which specialized in the sale of Multiples. One of them was Joseph Beuys’ Intuition, a small wooden box signed by the artist that sold for just eight marks. Based on this anti-elitist attitude, Block participated in Macht Kunst (Make Art). In this initiative, launched for the opening of the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, all artists were invited to present their works to the public in a 24-hour exhibition. Now the work of René Block is being honored in his home city. Within the framework of Berlin Art Week, the Neue Berliner Kunstverein and Berlinische Galerie are devoting the show Ich kenne kein Weekend (I Know No Weekend) to him.

For the fourth edition of Berlin Art Week, the city, in which more than 20,000 artists live and work, is bundling its strengths again. Aside from the fairs abc – art berlin contemporary and Preview, numerous exhibitions and events will be staged starting September 15. Since 2013, Deutsche Bank has been a partner of the successful format, which underscores Berlin’s reputation as the unofficial European art capital.

One of this year’s highlights is the Stadt/Bild project. After Painting Forever! in 2013, four of the German capital’s leading institutions are cooperating again: Berlinische Galerie, Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, and Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Together they are investigating the issue of how we experience modern metropolises, particularly Berlin. The architect Arno Brandlhuber designed an installation for the large hall of Berlinische Galerie. The Dialogic City: Berlin Becomes Berlin casts a critical look at buildings constructed after the fall of the Wall as well as designs that weren’t realized. The starting point for the group show Xenopolis at the KunstHalle, curated by Simon Njami, is an idea of Roland Barthes. The French philosopher postulated that the city speaks to its residents and has it own distinct language. Together with six international artists, Njami developed this thesis further: even the residents, many of whom were not born in these metropolises, communicate with these cities and change their language. In times of global migration, Xenopolis asks questions revolving around belonging, home, and the notion of what is “foreign.”

The exhibition at KW Institute for Contemporary Art revolves around the jungle as a mirror image or alternative concept of urban space. Apart from works by artists such as Ulf Aminde, Julius von Bismarck, and Loretta Fahrenholz, in Welcome to the Jungle Basim Magdy’s My Father Looks For An Honest City is also being shown. The video, shot on the outskirts of Cairo in 2010, gives a foretaste of Magdy’s exhibition as “Artist of the Year” which will on view at the Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle next spring.

The Nationalgalerie takes to the streets for “Stadt/Bild.” Berlin artists were invited to develop contemporary versions of Allan Kaprow’s Happening Fluids, for which the artist installed sculptures on ice blocks in a park and next to a factory in California in 1967. Like Kaprow, Antje Majewski, Ahmet Öğüt, Alexandra Pirici, and Stadt im Regal also depart from the art context and directly confront the public with their projects.

In addition, the winner of the Preis der Nationalgalerie 2015 will be announced during Berlin Art Week. The exhibition of the nominees – Christian Falsnaes, Florian Hecker, Anne Imhof, and Slavs and Tatars – is on view at Hamburger Bahnhof. Fans of photo art should definitely see the Cindy Sherman retrospective at me Collectors Room. Rudi Meisel’s documentary black-and-white photographs at C/O Berlin set a counterpoint to the American artist’s self-portrayals. Created in West and East Germany from 1977 to 1987, they show astonishing parallels between life in the Federal Republic and the GDR. The Schinkel Pavillon is a new partner of Berlin Art Week. Since 2007, site-specific projects by Isa Genzken, Eva Kotatkova, and Phillipe Parreno have been on display in the place where Erich Honecker once hosted cocktail parties. This year, Paul McCarthy is showing his work in the intimate octangular room. The extent to which the international art scene adores this exhibition space, which is run by an association, is reflected by the major charity auction that will held at Christie’s in London on October 17, 2015, to which prominent artists such as John Baldessari, Cyprien Gaillard, Katharina Grosse, and Tatiana Trouvé have contributed works to ensure the further existence of the Schinkel Pavillon.

Both Berlin Art Week fairs have been revamped. The design of the booths of abc were radically updated by the architectural office June14. This year, 100 galleries from 17 countries are represented in the vast halls of the Station at Gleisdreieck. Additionally, the exhibition Proximities and Desires shows that there are now some outstanding private collections in Berlin. On view here are selected works from the About Change Collection, the Boros Collection, and the Olbricht Collection, among others. Following the premiere at the former Jandorf department store, Positions Berlin is now being shown in the light-flooded halls of the Arena on the banks of the Spree in Kreuzberg. A total of 76 exhibitors from 16 countries promise visitors exciting new discoveries. The importance of the fundamental work of project spaces for Berlin as a location for art is highlighted by the new Art-Week-Format Xchange, at which ten project spaces, including District, General Public, and Lage Egal, exchange content and space.

The collaboration between all of these different institutions enables visitors to Art Week to experience the full spectrum of the art metropolis Berlin in a concentrated program. And it is only consistent that Deutsche Bank, which views its KunstHalle as a forum for the city’s creative scene, is involved in Berlin Art Week.

Berlin Art Week
September 15 – 20