Berlin Art Week

September 26, 2013

The European art fair calendar got off to a brisk start with Berlin Art Week, which ran from September 17 through 22, and included, among many other events, abc–art berlin contemporary, Preview Berlin and Berliner Liste, which all ran from September 19 through 22.

For its sixth edition, abc–art berlin contemporary was held in the Kreuzberg district. While in past editions the selection of works was based upon a general theme, this year each gallery was invited to present its own project, a choice that stressed curatorial concepts and the figure of the artist — aspects that are increasingly obscured by commercial considerations.

Not only does this approach allows the artist greater visibility, but, indeed, many exhibiting artists were spotted among the booths talking to visitors. Especially notable was an appearance by artist Hermann Nitsch.

In partnership with BMW Cultural Engagement, abc featured 133 galleries from 22 different countries. Approximately half of these came from Berlin (including Arndt, BQ, Galerie Guido W. Baudach, Capitain Petzel, Chert and Bischoff Projects) and the rest from cities such as Dubai (Carbon 12), New York, Los Angeles, London, Vienna and Rome.

In addition to the booths — unconventionally organized in three halls specifically designed by a Berlin-based architecture studio — a section entitled “Upcoming Exhibitions” was held in the entrance hall, which presented 14 international exhibition projects that took place every two hours throughout the duration of abc.

A variety of other events at a range of venues took place during Berlin Art Week. The program included a group exhibition at the Schinkel Pavilion by Gelatin working in collaboration with 12 Berlin-based artists working under the collective name “Anna Ly Sing,” as well as site-specific installations, discussions and special openings at the Boros and Hoffman collections. During this year’s Berlin Art Week, particular attention was paid to painting through the initiative “Painting Forever,” a show located in four venues: Berlinische Galerie, Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, KW Institute for Contemporary Art and Nationalgalerie -Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. For the launch of this cooperative project, initiated by the Berlin Senate, the four institutions chose painting as the focal point for their first year of collaboration, which is to be continued in the future.

In its attempt to promote contemporary art, the BMW Cultural Engagement Group also supports the National Gallery Prize for Young Art. Specially created works by a number of nominated artists are presented in a group show at the Hamburger Bahnhof. A jury chooses the winner from the shortlist. The award is intended as a symbol in recognition of the increasing significance of Germany’s young artists on the international cultural scene. This year the jury was comprised of Okwui Enwezor (Haus der Kunst, Munich), Luis Pérez-Oramas (Museum of Modern Art, New York), Kitty Scott (Art Gallery of Ontario), Udo Kittelmann and Gabriele Knapstein (both Nationalgalerie, Berlin), who awarded the prize to Mariana Castillo Deball, who was shortlisted alongside Simon Denny, Kerstin Brätsch and Haris Epaminonda.

The jury stated: “We looked and thought carefully about the work of the four nominees. We appreciated the seriousness of purpose and conceptual clarity of each project. The Jury based its decision specifically on each contribution to the exhibition along with the arc of the artists’ development. Mariana Castillo Deball’s work convinced us as it hinges on the significance of the world of contact. Her work explores the discourses of archaeology, anthropology and museology through the perspective of the long durée. Mariana Castillo Deball’s concerns with history have contemporary resonance.”

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