Gallery Weekend Berlin is one of the most anticipated events for the art industry and turns the entire German city into a festival dedicated to the practice. From the 26th – 29th of April over 47 galleries coordinated exhibitions across the city as well as a number of fashion and fringe events, with a turn out of 30,000 visitors.
Many events overlapped with the festivities on the weekend including the New York Times annual Art Leaders Network conference. The conference saw panelists such as Sheikha Al Mayassa, MoMA director Glenn Lowry, and the artists Ai Weiwei and Olafur Elisasson in the lineup as well as the German culture minister Monika Grütters who gave a speech at the opening dinner.
Clashes however were seen during a four-day exhibition at the Czech embassy, where the auction house Christie’s held an exhibition named “Beauties and Beasts: Making and Collecting Art in Germany”. The timing of both opening reception created conflict with GWB. The director had mentioned, “As with Art Basel, there should be a certain respect for the main event, and such clashes should be avoided.”
Two new gallery spaces opened during the weekend – one being the Konrad Fischer Galerie who gave a sneak peak of the venue on Neue Grün Straße. The building will be converted later this year, but artists Lawrence Weiner and Carl Andre had the opportunity to present a number of works.
The second new gallery space, PS120, opened last week at Potsdamerstraße. The gallery uses an alternative business model, displaying loans or works consigned by other galleries and takes a 10 – 30 percent consulting fee. The gallery opened with an exhibition titled: The Way Things Run and is showing works from Alvaro Barrington, Tom Burr, Joan Jonas and Rosemarie Trockel. “I would not have a space anywhere else,” says Justin Polera, PS120’s founder. “Berlin is a city on the rise, it’s like New York in the 1990s, with tons of experimentation. It’s so much safer for artists to experiment here, without taking huge financial risks like in New York. Even if gentrification is seen as an evil, it’s a really exciting moment to see the city transformed, and Potsdamerstraße is at the center of this shift. ” Alvaro Barrington, Tom Burr, Joan Jonas and Rosemarie Trockel.
Other highlights from the weekend include the experimental gallery Potsdamer Straße, which showed four bodies of work by Jeanette Mundt and Kara Walker’s first solo show where she exhibited Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale (2011). The video featured 17 minutes of shadow puppets telling the tale a southern belle and her affair with an African-American slave.
The most spectacular of the exhibitions would have to include Claudia Comte’s, “When dinosaurs ruled the earth”. The artworks were located in a converted Brutalist church in Kreuzberg, König Galerie which was transformed in to a forest of 20 large spruce trees, suspended from the ceiling, are stripped of their bark and scorched at the bottom. Each trunk was carved at various heights and held Comte’s 3D sculptures. The artist also premiered a video featuring 4D animation across remote areas in Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia. The message behind the artwork is to force the viewer to think and recognise the growth of technology and its impact on the natural world.
Cover Image: Laurie Rojas