2013.10.01 Tue, by Translated by: 梁舒涵
Berlin Art Week

Berlin Art Week, combining major museum openings, art berlin contemporary (an art fair), and a panoply of individual exhibitions, talks, happenings, lunches, parties and schmoozing, could be a wonderful thing.

But the local government (famous for failing to opening the new airport—over a year now) had the BRILLIANT idea of a mega-multi-location exhibition. The result was “Painting Forever!” at Kunst-Werke, the Neue National Galerie, Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle and Berlinische Galerie. Sadly this is a car-crash of an exhibition with many injured, some critically. It seems the curators took their eyes off the road ahead (my review will come soon).

Then there is abc, art berlin contemporary, the art fair you have when you don’t want to admit you’re having an art fair because you’re way too cool and Berliner for that. Except it is an art fair. The idea is nice—lots of installation work, focussing on individual artists. The execution is sadly not yet quite right. The location in old industrial railway halls (Station Berlin). It’s very central and looks great. The art is sometimes really interesting. The galleries very professional. But the installation works in such a way that the separate works blend into one another, and also the temporary dividing walls, and the building itself. This is not so good.

Matthew Buckingham “The Six Grandfathers, Paha Sapa, in the Year 502,002 C.E.” (2002) at Hamburger Bahnhof, showed the effect of erosion on Mount Rushmore over a long, long, long time.

It is also a little too homogenous. abc is there to showcase Berlin and Germany (even Austria)…with some ring-ins like A Gentil Carioca from Brasil, but it all looks and thinks too much the same. The result is deadening. Many works fade into the chaotic background. That said, there were some wonderful things to see. Among them Nina Canell’s airy conceptualism (Konrad Fischer Galerie & Wien Lukatsch), Andreas Fischer (Johann König Gallery), Diana Siriani (Figge von Rosen). Not much painting but then again, as evidenced at KW et al, painting isn’t exactly Berlin’s strong point right now.

Stef Heidhues “Fence” (2013) at EIGEN + ART Lab, Berlin (born 1980, Heidhuis is an artist to watch).

The best of Berlin Art Week was at Hamburger Bahnhof, which has lots of great exhibitions, including “The End of the Twentieth Century. The Best is Yet to Come. A Dialogue with the Marx Collection” and “Body Pressure. Sculpture Since the 1960s”.

abc (art berlin contemporary) has many strengths but its installation-heavy installation tended to cause art work installations to merge with the art fair installations and even the art fair hall.

The depth of Berlin’s art scene was very much on display at the galleries. At DNA Galerie I was introduced to the (in)famous performance of Mike Steiner and Ulay where they stole a painting from Berlin’s Neue National Galerie, “Irritation: There is a Criminal Touch to Art” (1976). Not just any painting but “Der Arme Poet” (The Poor Poet) by Carl Spitzweg, Hitler’s favorite. I also liked Douglas Gordon at Michael Fuchs Galerie and, in the same building it so happens, Stef Heidhues at EIGEN + ART Lab.

The extraordinary lightness of Nina Canell’s work was one of the (quiet) standouts of art berlin contemporary. (Konrad Fischer Galerie & Wien Lukatsch)

abc art fair doesn’t like being called an art fair but hey, that’s what it is. One of the few galleries to really succeed with controlling the amorphous space was neugerriemschneider’s Pae White installation—even if we are a bit over rainbow grid installations now.

Douglas Gordon “Backs Against the Wall, The Party’s Over” (left) and Johannes Albers “Meer von Mauern” (sea of walls) in “Mauer” (Wall) exhibition at Michael Fuchs Galerie, Auguststrasse, Berlin

Francesco Clemente’s Indian tents at the huge Blain | Southern space

(Corrections: A previous version of this article mistakenly referred to Maria Eichhorn. The artist is actually Nina Canell, and the galleries responsible for that space are Konrad Fischer Galerie & Wien Lukatsch. This has now been corrected.)