The Best Of Berlin Art Week

From sound art to invisibility cloaks, we're bringing you all that was gut at this year's festival.

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Sep 23 2013, 3:00pm

Attending Berlin Art Week for the first time can be like stumbling down a rabbit-hole into a sensory overloaded wonderland. Tweedledee and Tweedledum are the gallery curators, the hookah-smoking caterpillar is the chilled-out Berliner vibe that encompasses you, and the grinning Cheshire cat is your face after a day at the booths.

“Berlin Art Week actually already happens 52 times a year,” said Moritz van Dülmen of Kulturprojekte Berlin, the organization behind the event. Attracting thousands of designers, photographers, illustrators, filmmakers, and musicians annually, Berlin has truly become a year-round muse for the artistically inclined.

With Berlin Art Week the already-electrifying city shifts into overdrive, uniting many of the disparate elements that form Berlin's art world in an unprecedented, all-embracing approach across the city's creative spectrum. With 21 venues over six days from Sept 17-22, attendees definitely needed Alice’s “DRINK ME” potion to heighten their senses to conquer the whole soiree. 

Below we've culled some of our favorite mind-expanding exhibitions from this fantastic labyrinth of a festival:

Suspension by Artistdock

Suspension © Mathias Wasik

Some of the works’ relationships to suspension were literal, like Max Strasser's paintings of UFOs, Charlotte Perrin's video Plongeur with a diver frozen in a continuous and abstract loop, or Pablo Mercado’s Tea and Madeleine, Tribute to Marcel Proust, which reconstructed a memory of tea time with a chair, table, and teacups suspended in mid-air, reminiscent of a Matrix fight scene. García Sánchez instead explored "political limbo" with his series of drawings The Fall of Capitalism and Chansook Choi's The Promised Land presented a place isolated in its own perfection.

Suspension © Mathias Wasik

The Berlin World Improvement Machine by Friedrich von Borries

Berlin World Improvement Machine © Mathias Wasik

What if while Shakespeare was wondering “To be or not to be?” and Newton formulating universal gravitation in the 17th century, innovators in old Berlin were conspiring a top-secret plan to build a machine to better the world?

Spurring a discussion about the role of art and science in relation to the improvement of our present-day world, architect and curator Friedrich von Borries tracked the secret components of this (real) machine and created a curatorial intervention in 16 Berlin museums during Berlin Art Week. Based on research amassed at the Academy of Arts (1696), the Academy of Sciences (1700) and later the Royal Museums of Berlin (from 1830), von Borries created a treasure map marking approximately 70 artworks and artifacts that together unfold to improve the world.

In addition, the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum Für Gegenwart Berlin presented a 15-meter high model of the World Improvement Machine in its inner courtyard.

How Not to be Seen: A F*cking Didactic Educational .MOV File by Hito Steyerl

How Not To Be Seen - Film Still © Hito Steyerl, courtesy of Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam

Thanks to Hito Steyerl’s instructional “How Not to be Seen” video, invisibility cloaks and camouflage gear have been rendered futile. Featured at the Venice Biennale and Berlinerische Galerie during Berlin Art Week, the film informs viewers how to remain invisible in an age of image proliferation. One suggestion is to digitally camouflage oneself (to demonstrate, Steyerl smears green paint on her face and is chroma-keyed into invisibility), while another suggested tactic is to be smaller than the size of a pixel. 

Worth Noting:

Preview Berlin Art Fair: As a tribute to 18-year-old Miami street artist Israel Hernández, a.k.a. Reefa, who was tasered to death by a police officer, Gallerist Pablo Gehr of G&G Fine Art constructed an installation of works at Preview Berlin Art Fair, including two works by internationally famed street artist Banksy.

Painting Forever!: Leading Berlin contemporary art institutions Berlinische Galerie, Deutsche Bank KunstHalle and KW Institute for Contemporary Art and Nationalgalerie joined forces to bring painting into focus at the artiest time of the year in Berlin.  

Hush Hush: One of the multiple alter-egos of American artist Christopher Kline, Hush Hush describes himself as a 'self-styled hit-machine', considering every track a single and defiantly creating pop music which is not, in fact, very popular. 

To the West: 13 OSTKREUZ photographers explored the urbanization of Charlottenburg, making a visual inventory through photographs of this urban microcosm that oscillates between clichés and reality, rundown buildings and splendor, commerce and science, decline and new beginnings. 

To The West © OSTREUZ

 Berlin Art Week

Top image courtesy of Oana Popa

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