Biennials & festivals

What to see during Berlin Art Week

The normally slow-paced city kicks into art overdrive this week with around 100 exhibitions and projects

Berlin Art Week kicks off today (until 20 September), with around 100 exhibitions and projects at 40 venues, and around 80,000 visitors expected, according to the organisers. Here’s our selection of what to see around the city this week.

Museums and institutions

Leading the charge of exhibition openings on Tuesday is Stadt/Bild: Image of a City (16 September-8 November), a four-institution collaboration that has become even more timely in the context of the refugee crisis. The exhibition uses the idea of “the city” to look at social and cultural issues surrounding urban development and community.

Mwangi Hutter, Proximity of Imperfect Figures (2015) in Xenopolis at the Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle

Welcome to the Jungle at KW Institute is a group exhibition “on the seductive abyss of life in a big city”, according to a statement. Similarly, the Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle presents Xenopolis, an international group show curated by Simon Njami that addresses notions of “belonging, home and foreignness”.

The Nationalgalerie is hosting Fluids: a happening by Allan Kaprow 1967/2015, which investigates the artist’s influence through four happenings staged throughout Berlin. Among these is a recreation of Kaprow’s 1967 ice block piece—which uses 12.5 tons of ice—on the museum’s terrace.

Meanwhile, the Berlinische Galerie’s show The Dialogic City: Berlin wird Berlin features archival materials of unrealised architectural proposals for the German city, a project organised by the architect Arno Brandlhuber, together with Thomas Mayfried and Florian Hertweck.

Abc Art Berlin Contemporary The commercial epicenter of the week is Abc (17-20 September), a selling exhibition of solo artist projects founded in 2008 as a sort of “anti-fair” by a group of Berlin galleries, and hosted in the former railway depot turned event space Station-Berlin. Highlights include a piece by Florian Auer in the entrance and collaborative works by Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch.

Simon Starling at abc art berlin contemporary 2015. Courtesy of the artist and neugerriemschneider, Berlin. Photo by Stefan Korte

New to the event is a presentation of Berlin’s private art collections. The show, organised by Nikola Dietrich, “could inspire young collectors attending the fair”, says Maike Cruse the director of abc. “Proximities and Desires” includes works by the About Change Collection, Sammlung Marzona, Sammlung Boros, Sammlung Haubrok, and the Olbricht Collection, among others.

Independent spaces In a refreshing twist, Project Space Festival Xchange sees ten of the city’s independent, non-commercial project spaces pair up to swap venues and collaborate on thematic exhibitions.

KLEISTER's exhibition in Goerlitzer Park, 2013. Photo: © KLEISTER

For example, the collaboration between former neighbours General Public and tête allows General Public, which has been without a space since 2014 because of rent hikes, to have a a physical location once again, while tête has had to think outside of the white box and is hosting a photography project by the collaborative Kaethe (Katja Haustein und Hannah Goldstein), on the wall of Görlitzer Park.

Private collections and artist studios A defining feature of Berlin Art Week is the access it provides to the city’s myriad private collections and artist studios. For a full list see:

Paul McCarthy, Horizontal, 2012 Platinum silicone, fiberglass, aluminum, stainless steel, natural hair, pigment, paint, wood door with laminate, wood sawhorses 102,9 × 268 × 90,5 cm Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Courtesy Paul McCarthy and Hauser & Wirth

Among the notable shows is Alicja Kwade’s solo show at the Haus am Waldsee (opens 18 September), Paul McCarthy’s work at the Schinkel Pavillon, and the presentation of the four nominees of the Preis der Nationalgalerieat the Hamburger Bahnhof: Christian Falsnaes, Florian Hecker, Slavs and Tartars, and Anne Imhof. The winner will be announced at a ceremony on Friday.

Gallery night Galleries step into the spotlight tomorrow (16 September) with headliners to spare: Camille Henrot at König Galerie; Hito Steyerl at KOW Berlin; Laure Prouvost at Carlier Gebauer; Mariana Castillo Deball at Barbara Wien; Mario García Torres at neugerriemschneider; Sol LeWitt at Konrad Fischer; Sean Scully at Kewenig; and Dan Flavin at Galerie Bastian.

An all star 80s generation group show at Sprüth Magers with Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Cindy Sherman, and Rosemarie Trockel looks back at three decades of shared history. The then Cologne-based dealer Monika Sprüth organised the historic Eau de Cologne exhibitions and publications (1985-1993) to rectify the artworld’s gender imbalance and to propel these women’s careers. The exhibition features works from the 80s to the present.