Berlin Art Week 2018

October 1, 2018

Me at the Berlin Art Fair in Tempelhofer Flugfeld

Let’s start with a riddle. If each person had 50 cm table space and the table is 25 meters long with people sitting on both sides of the table, then how many guests attended the carlier gebauer dinner?

On my left side is sitting the founder of INDEX Berlin, Kirsa Geiser. I had imagined the brain behind INDEX to be a severe looking person who doesn’t want to let you in. But instead she is fun and tells me she does most of her work at home on the sofa. Her children hate it: “Oh, you’re at home, mum!” Kirsa gives me good advice: don’t make the artists list too long because then there is no space left on INDEX for the curator’s name.   

On my right side is sitting an art collector and art advisor. She is asked if she enjoyed the art fair. “I liked the building,” she says diplomatically. 

The starter is a soup with yellow peppers and salmon. A. skips it because he doesn’t eat liquid food, he says. The next evening, A. is at the dinner at Blain Southern. It is overbooked and he eats his dinner at the bar. Also here he skips a dish, the main one, but the wine is terrific. 

I want to focus on the food so I point to A. who is sitting in front of me and tell our table companions that A. lived in Dubai. That always does the trick. Eyes go wide open and focus eagerly on A. Freed from social obligations, I concentrate on the delicious lamb with a sauce of dried tomatoes and the chocomousse with caramelized nuts.  

Upon leaving the dinner, I’m looking for artist A. all over the place. The next day I call her to see if she’s ok. Yes, she says, she just left the “french way.”

The opening of the Berlin Art week was at Palais Populaire of the Deutsche Bank on Unter the Linden. I’m not surprised when I’m told it was a most unglamorous event. It’s hard to let glamour in when five German speeches are on the program. 

A few people I meet attended the opening of Agnieszka Polska at Hamburger Bahnhof. They shrug with indifference. 

Also the art fair is unspectacular. What did you expect, A. says, it’s a supermarket, not a place for fresh ideas.

At the art fair we meet art connoisseur A. She asks if we’ve seen the outside sculpture of Cosima von Bonin. It’s ugly, she says with a look of surprise in her eyes. 

At least three people tell me they enjoyed the booth of the Gallery Plan B and admire the way the gallery always manages to bring new artists in. I do so too. This time it’s a Rumanian artist called Victor Ciato who started making abstract drawings under socialist regime. I’m also a fan of Sorana Serban-Chiorean who works at Plan B. She talks about art in a smart way and is always willing to explain.

Rosemarie Trockel is showing a wall piece with white speech bubbles. It's horrible minimalism but one with a gimmick. The Sprüth Magers employee tells me that when you blow some wind in front of it, the speech bubbles move. She looks scared because she doesn’t want it to move too much in case it breaks. 

How success can ruin the art. On Friday night is the opening night of Lee Bul at Gropius Bau. Whereas her performance work in the 1980s seemed to be real, the work that followed in the 1990s when she got famous, is all glitter, mirror and surface and looks as if it’s made in L.A. It looks like a product for the rich. The annoying thing is that the accompanying wall texts try to give it political content. There are even two spaces dedicated to the political history in Korea and the place of women in Korean society. 

The new director Stephanie Rosenthal gives a speech that disappoints. She mentions the Hitler bunker and the Wall next door. She wants the various exhibitions on the different floors of Gropius Bau (the “Martin” is now left out) to intermingle more with each other. This is a good idea but it looks bad. The archeologic exhibition downstairs sears up high into the Lee Bul space with an old-fashioned bridge next to Bul’s silver zeppelin. 

A woman is on her phone and talking positively about the various exhibitions she saw during the last days, the Gropius one included.  I almost get envious of the naiveté with which she is able to contemplate art. She repeatedly exclaims: “Es ist wahnsinnig schön!”
Let’s start with a riddle. If each person had 50 cm table space and the table is 25 meters long with people sitting on both sides of the table, then how many guests attended the carlier gebauer dinner? On my left side is sitting the founder of INDEX Berlin, Kirsa Geiser. I had imagined the brain behind INDEX to be a severe looking person who doesn’t want to let you in. But instead she is fun and tells me she does most of her work at home on the s…
Me at the Berlin Art Fair in Tempelhofer Flugfeld

Let’s start with a riddle. If each person had 50 cm table space and the table is 25 meters long with people sitting on both sides of the table, then how many guests attended the carlier gebauer dinner?

On my left side is sitting the founder of INDEX Berlin, Kirsa Geiser. I had imagined the brain behind INDEX to be a severe looking person who doesn’t want to let you in. But instead she is fun and tells me she does most of her work at home on the sofa. Her children hate it: “Oh, you’re at home, mum!” Kirsa gives me good advice: don’t make the artists list too long because then there is no space left on INDEX for the curator’s name.   

On my right side is sitting an art collector and art advisor. She is asked if she enjoyed the art fair. “I liked the building,” she says diplomatically. 

The starter is a soup with yellow peppers and salmon. A. skips it because he doesn’t eat liquid food, he says. The next evening, A. is at the dinner at Blain Southern. It is overbooked and he eats his dinner at the bar. Also here he skips a dish, the main one, but the wine is terrific. 

I want to focus on the food so I point to A. who is sitting in front of me and tell our table companions that A. lived in Dubai. That always does the trick. Eyes go wide open and focus eagerly on A. Freed from social obligations, I concentrate on the delicious lamb with a sauce of dried tomatoes and the chocomousse with caramelized nuts.  

Upon leaving the dinner, I’m looking for artist A. all over the place. The next day I call her to see if she’s ok. Yes, she says, she just left the “french way.”

The opening of the Berlin Art week was at Palais Populaire of the Deutsche Bank on Unter the Linden. I’m not surprised when I’m told it was a most unglamorous event. It’s hard to let glamour in when five German speeches are on the program. 

A few people I meet attended the opening of Agnieszka Polska at Hamburger Bahnhof. They shrug with indifference. 

Also the art fair is unspectacular. What did you expect, A. says, it’s a supermarket, not a place for fresh ideas.

At the art fair we meet art connoisseur A. She asks if we’ve seen the outside sculpture of Cosima von Bonin. It’s ugly, she says with a look of surprise in her eyes. 

At least three people tell me they enjoyed the booth of the Gallery Plan B and admire the way the gallery always manages to bring new artists in. I do so too. This time it’s a Rumanian artist called Victor Ciato who started making abstract drawings under socialist regime. I’m also a fan of Sorana Serban-Chiorean who works at Plan B. She talks about art in a smart way and is always willing to explain.

Rosemarie Trockel is showing a wall piece with white speech bubbles. It's horrible minimalism but one with a gimmick. The Sprüth Magers employee tells me that when you blow some wind in front of it, the speech bubbles move. She looks scared because she doesn’t want it to move too much in case it breaks. 

How success can ruin the art. On Friday night is the opening night of Lee Bul at Gropius Bau. Whereas her performance work in the 1980s seemed to be real, the work that followed in the 1990s when she got famous, is all glitter, mirror and surface and looks as if it’s made in L.A. It looks like a product for the rich. The annoying thing is that the accompanying wall texts try to give it political content. There are even two spaces dedicated to the political history in Korea and the place of women in Korean society. 

The new director Stephanie Rosenthal gives a speech that disappoints. She mentions the Hitler bunker and the Wall next door. She wants the various exhibitions on the different floors of Gropius Bau (the “Martin” is now left out) to intermingle more with each other. This is a good idea but it looks bad. The archeologic exhibition downstairs sears up high into the Lee Bul space with an old-fashioned bridge next to Bul’s silver zeppelin. 

A woman is on her phone and talking positively about the various exhibitions she saw during the last days, the Gropius one included.  I almost get envious of the naiveté with which she is able to contemplate art. She repeatedly exclaims: “Es ist wahnsinnig schön!”

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