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  • Introducing art month: Art fairs round-up


Introducing art month: Art fairs round-up

Festival overload continues! In the wake of the Art Forum fiasco, Berlin’s other art fairs scramble to pick up the pieces, pull in the dough and help redefine the city’s cultural (and commercial) moment.

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Photo by Grit Schwerdtfeger
Festival overload continues! In the wake of the Art Forum fiasco, Berlin’s other art fairs scramble to pick up the pieces, pull in the dough and help redefine the city’s cultural (and commercial) moment. With so many art fairs jumping from October to September this year, it’s time to proclaim a new ‘Art Month’ in Berlin – adding to September’s last  culture-fest orgy already touched upon on this site. Yet, when it comes to the art scene, the celebratory tone has not lacked discord. Back in May, when Berlin’s premier international fair Art Forum Berlin announced a merger with the Berlin’s cultural elite braced for a superfair, an Art Basel-style blue-chip celebration of the Hauptstadt’s dynamic commercial scene. Then, only a few weeks later, negotiations between the fairs over curatorial and organizational power imploded, and Art Forum – Berlin’s Audi-sponsored, European art season-opening extravaganza – announced it was pulling out of the business, leaving a giant, gilded chasm on the art fair landscape. So what are we left with? A clutch of fairs that rely on less established, independent, local, alternative works; a new deal among players, as the space left vacant by Art Forum prompted all participants to redefine their position in the game: BERLINER LISTE will try to hold on to its reputation as the fair of choice for independent commercial artists, this year again focusing on photography, but this time engaging reproductions and film to create an enlivened exhibition. KUNSTSALON will attempt to overtake Preview’ role as the experimental centre of art. As for PREVIEW BERLIN, it will take the center piece as that hip-but-serious art fair for ‘emerging art’, while expanding its sights towards more established names, and ever-more VIP visitors. It may also meet a new demographic: well-heeled art-lovers will have to share Tempelhof with Berlin Festival goers, allowing Santigold fans to pop in for a quick look between sets. ABC toes the line between fair and group show, while taking over much of the clout left in Art Forum’s wake. Only Stroke will play solo: the urban art fair was so hell-bent on disturbing the protocol that they have kept their October dates. In the end, the collapse of Art Forum has sent a wiff of fresh air in the well-oiled protocol, leaving art fans with a spectrum of fairs that feel more indigenous, and therefore better suited, to the city. Berlin has famously turned its economic poverty into an enviable cultural asset. Sexy is always poor – and art that resonates that message, will always sell.   KUNSTSALON
When Sep 6 (from 17:00), Sep 7-10 (14-22:00), Sep 11 (12-20:00)                  Where Uferhallen, Uferstr. 8, Wedding, U-Bhf Pankstr, Tel 030 4050 4174 How much €5/3 Background The fair was founded in 2004 by photographer Edmund Piper, who returns to the helm in 2011 after a year-long sabbatical. In a nutshell The indie alternative to more conventional and expensive fairs, Kunstsalon sees itself as a talent scout chasing ambitious young artists rather than an art fair full of conqueror’s treasures. New this year Returning to the BVG’s former garage at Uferhallen in Wedding where Kunstsalon was staged four years ago, the event will have to be a tad pickier to squeeze everything into the smaller venue. That said, the booth-less single hall is still huge. In moving to September with the other art fairs, Kunstsalon hopes to ride the bigger budget coattails of the larger events, luring in curators and collectors already in town. The vibe This very ‘DIY-Berlin’ fair draws in a mixed crowd of art enthusiasts, families and gem-hunters. Rules of the game No rules. Organisers scout year-round and unrepresented artists can apply for exhibition spaces which cost around €500, a bargain by traditional art fair prices. The numbers 2550sqm / 60 exhibitors / 8000 visitors (2010) ART BERLIN CONTEMPORARY (ABC)
When Sep 7 (18-21:00), Sep 8-10 (12-21:00), Sep 11 (12-19:00) Where Station-Berlin, Luckenwalder Str. 4-6, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Gleisdreieck, Tel 030 2844 4387 How much €8/6 (Children under 12 free), Sunday family ticket €15 Background In 2008, the organisers of Berlin’s Gallery Weekend started ABC in cooperation with Art Forum. While ABC sees itself as much more about artists than institutions, with the fall of Art Forum it’s become the big daddy of the Berlin fairs. In a nutshell Somewhere between a fair and a curated group exhibition, each edition of ABC has a theme, concept and curator, attempting to reflect the lively atmosphere of Berlin’s indigenous commercial art scene. New this year One of the first to jump dates, ABC manoeuvered itself to the front of the season. Returning to Station-Berlin, the former postal railway station where their inaugural exhibition took place four years ago, ABC decided to get bigger as a direct consequence of Art Forum’s collapse. Expect not only paintings but a lot of meta-mixed media works that tackle the concept or importance of painting.                             The vibe Frequented by local vernissage aficionados, creatives, collectors, artists and art lovers, ABC also attracts many out-of-towners as it kicks off the art season with a big, bucked-up bang.                             Rules of the game Invited galleries and artists work with the festival curator to select works that fit the theme. The numbers 7000sqm / 130 artists represented by 125 galleries / 15,000 visitors (2010) BERLINER LISTE
When Sep 7 (18-23:00), Sep 8-10 (13-21:00), Sep 11 (12-19:00) Where TRAFO, Köpenicker Str. 70, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Heinrich-Heine-Str. Tel 030 2809 7917 How much €13/10 Background Berlin gallerist Wolfram Völcker founded the fair in 2004 as an alternative to Art Forum. With the fall of its forerunner, Berliner Liste is growing. In a nutshell Less discriminating than ABC, more ‘establishment’ than Kunstsalon, Berliner Liste is the art fair of choice for commercially-oriented, independent artists. New this year Bigger than previous years, Berliner Liste is pushing to present a more international array of work, with artists from Israel and Iran shown for the first time. The vibe Marketable art in a three-floor former power plant. Rules of the game Artists and galleries apply for space online. The numbers 7000sqm exhibition space / 126 galleries from 26 countries / 13,000 visitors (2010). PREVIEW BERLIN
When Sep 8 (From 16:00), Sep 9-11 (13-1:00) Where Tempelhof Airport, Hangar 2, Columbiadamm 10, Tempelhof, U-Bhf Platz der Luftbrücke, Tel 030 4980 5517 How much €10/6 Background Berlin’s “emerging art fair” was founded in 2005 by Kristian Jarmuschek (Galerie Jarmuschek + Partner) and Rüdiger Lange (loop – raum für aktuelle kunst) and the artist Ralf Schmitt (MyVisit.to). In a nutshell An exclusive, mid-sized fair showcasing a new generation of emerging national and international artists. New this year Preview 2011 sees two large collaborations: Tel Aviv’s Fresh Paint fair curates a program of young Israeli video artists, while Focus Academy unites art, academia and industry. The vibe The ‘hipster’ of Berlin art fairs – choosy and focused on new developments and fresh approaches. It’s also more streamlined than the other fairs as galleries may only show one work per artist. Rules of the game Only open to young, emerging galleries, the (almost) invite-only event is generally hand-picked by organisers and the fair committee. The numbers 4000sqm exhibition space / 15 different countries / 12,000 visitors (2010).