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United art force: Berlin Art Week 2018

Berlin may not be the most commercial art hub, but for the last week of September Berlin Art Week (Sep 26-30) unites the scene to showcase its impressive resources. Here's our rundown.

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Adk Bilderkeller. Photo by Andreas Süß

Berlin may not be the most commercial art hub, but for the last week of September Berlin Art Week (Sep 26-30) unites the scene to showcase its impressive resources.

Born from the ashes of the cancelled Art Forum art fair in 2011, Berlin Art Week is now in its seventh year and offers a point in the city’s art calendar for galleries, museums and art fairs to open their doors on the same day. With more than 300 galleries and thousands of artists living in the city, Berlin has all the props for an art week unlike other cities’: “Berlin may not be seen as a commercial art centre as much as some other German cities, but we bring together over 50 partner organisations and put on a showcase week for what Berlin has to offer across the art landscape, not just a few events around a central art fair,” says Simone Leimbach, Head of Events and Exhibitions at coordinating organisation Kulturprojekte Berlin.

Drawing over 110,000 visitors last year, Berlin Art Week attracts the international art crowd, with galleries from around the world coming to exhibit at the mainstay art fairs: Art Berlin and Positions Berlin. Both have variously changed their names, formats, dates and venues over the years, but this time find themselves in neighbouring hangars at the decommissioned Tempelhof airport. Perhaps missing a trick, the two fairs are not offering any sort of combined entry ticket. A notable absence will be the city’s longest-standing art fair, Berliner Liste. Known for a more open application process and exhibiting artists as well as galleries, Liste cited the last minute change of Berlin Art Week’s dates for their absenteeism but vow to return in 2019. This year, there are over 80 events and exhibitions to get through, but don’t panic: other than the fairs, most of the big-hitting shows, such as the Preis der Nationalgalerie at Hamburger Bahnhof and European Month of Photography, stay open for at least a month. Everyone gets involved, from private collections offering exclusive tours to one-off talks and performances at independent project spaces and galleries, plus around 80 commercial gallery openings on the night of Friday, September 28. Here are some highlights of this year’s programme:


Positions Berlin

Filling the void left by the much-loved Preview art fair that closed in 2013, Positions Berlin is at the more entry-level collector and young gallery end of the market. Its move to Tempelhof was motivated by the last minute change of dates for Berlin Art Week and the hangar’s availability. There doesn’t seem to be any great camaraderie with its airport dwelling neighbour Art Berlin, who are using a different entrance and charging more for tickets (€12-36 vs. €6-12). Over 250 artists will be on display from 70-odd, mainly German galleries as well as a section dedicated to recent graduates from German art schools. Expect to see emerging artists alongside the likes of Otto Dix and George Grosz.

Sep 27-30, Tempelhof Airport, Hangar 4

Art Berlin

Art Berlin is in its second year since evolving from ABC Berlin, a fair critics branded as a commercial flop and fans saw as a unique experimental model for artists. However, money talks and on teaming up with Art Cologne last year, and presumably receiving some much-needed cash and business savvy from owners trade fair company Koelnmesse, Art Berlin is following a more traditional fair model. Among the 120 galleries, it’s certainly captured Berlin’s best and brightest and looks set to be a success – if it can also draw in the elusive collectors to make it worth the stand fees. This year, galleries from 21 countries will show contemporary and modern art with a special focus on Brazil and Austria. A selection of one-artist presentations and a programme of talks, concerts and screenings will be accompanied by a ‘salon’ section curated by Tenzing Barshee. The slightly higher end of the market comes with an €18 entry price to match (€36 for the opening evening).

Sep 27-30, Tempelhof Airport, Hangar 5 & 6


The World on Paper

The new 750sqm art space on Unter den Linden presents 300 works on paper from the Deutsche Bank Collection. Spanning 1945 to today, the exhibition shows 133 artists including Josef Albers, John Cage, Ellen Gallagher, Wangechi Mutu, Kara Walker, Andy Warhol and Andrea Zittel.

Sep 27-Jan 7, PalaisPopulaire, Mitte

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The Demon’s Brain

This solo exhibition by Agnieszka Polska (image, right), the Berlin-based Polish winner of the 2017 Preis der Nationalgalerie, includes a new multi-channel video installation in Hamburger Bahnhof’s Historic Hall.

Sep 27-Mar 3, Hamburger Bahnhof, Mitte

As We Used to Float

Swiss artist and winner of the GASAG Art Prize 2018, Julian Charrière presents a multimedia spatial installation that takes visitors underwater in the Pacific Ocean.

Sep 27-Apr 8, Berlinische Galerie, Kreuzberg

The New Infinity: New art for planetariums

In a temporary planetarium dome landed in Kreuzberg, Berliner Festspiele and Planetarium Hamburg show new audio and video works by David OReilly, Holly Herndon and Mathew Dryhurst, Fatima Al Qadiri and Transforma.

Sep 26-Oct 14, Mobile Dome, Mariannenplatz, Kreuzberg


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Deep Space

Juan Atkins, the godfather of Detroit techno presents a live sound lab of analogue and modular synthesisers within artist Mischa Kuball’s installation res.o.nant (photo left).

Sep 28, 29, 16:00-20:00, Jewish Museum, Kreuzberg


For the first time ever, ‘Black Period’ murals by Berlin School members Manfred Böttcher, Ernst Schröder, Harald Metzkes and Horst Zickelbein painted on the walls of the Akademie’s former coal cellar are made accessible through guided tours.

Sep 28-30, Akademie der Künste, Mitte

European Month of Photography

This photography festival takes place at over 100 Berlin venues with highlights including Life Work, a retrospective of American photographer Nicholas Nixon at C/O Berlin, the Olbricht Collection at me Collectors Room and the group show Routinised Absurdity at KINDL.

Sep 28-Oct 31, various venues