Berlin’s Gallery Weekend kicks off on Friday 27 April. That evening more than fifty art spaces in the city will host openings of new exhibitions or events. For FOMO sufferers, the F is justified, as there’s quite a lot even the most assiduous art hunter will MO on, but throwing up one’s hands and chancing the queue at Berghain shouldn’t be the response – not until Sunday morning at least – and so in the interest of maximising one’s art experience pre-club queue, Samizdat is providing a guide to Berlin Gallery Weekend conveniently running from the west of the city to the east so that when (or if) you do find yourself nervously inching forward outside the city’s finest disused power stations, you can ensure that you’ve made the most of your weekend even if the door staff don’t like the look of your johdpurs.
Image courtesy of Weiss Gallery, Berlin. Faith Ringgold, Ego Painting (1969)
Possibly the most talked about exhibition that will be open during Gallery Weekend (in art critic circles at least) will be the Faith Ringgold exhibition at Weiss Gallery near Kurfürstendamm. Ringgold is an esteemed American artist well known for works on canvas as well as quilts depicting aspects of the representation of African Americans. Weiss recently hosted an exhibition of the work of Ed Clark, another African American artist whose career has spanned more than more than 12 presidential administrations – and the ensuing political upheavals thereof – and the Faith Ringgold show promises to be another exploration of an invaluable contemporary artist whose works, both historic and contemporary, are more relevant than ever.
The clutch of galleries around Kurfürstenstrasse U-Bahn will also be hosting a number of notable shows. Esther Schipper’s spacious new(ish) upstairs gallery will show a retrospective of works by AA Bronson and General Idea on the fiftieth anniversary of Bronson’s meeting with Jorge Zontal. Nearby, a number of younger artists will be presenting solo shows that look promising, among them, the textile artist, Nevin Aladag at Wentrup Gallery, the shape-shifting video-artist, Oliver Laric, at Tanya Leighton and the painter Paul Sochacki, notable for his impish deconstructions of the infantilisations of political discourse, at Exile.
Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) near Tiergarten will be hosting an exhibition and series of events under the title Neolithic Childhood. Art in a False Present, c. 1930. The exhibition is timely despite it’s focus being on nearly 90 years ago. The exhibition brings together work by artists including Claude Cahun, Hannah Höch, Paul Klee and other luminaries of the period. The fevered political atmosphere, and the search for answers within the mind and the personal biography of artists provides a valuable context for current angst about the politics of the self and the nature of institutional culture. Incidentally, the HKW will also host a mix of concerts, films and discussions entitled 100 Years of Beat which explores the evolution of the drum and drum/rhythm culture since the introduction of the first mass market drum set by the Ludwig Drum Company in 1918. It promises to be an ideal companion piece to the exhibition. Nearby is an exhibition of the film works of Ana Mendieta at Martin-Gropius-Bau which is a true can’t-miss. Mendieta’s films remain some of the most potent and poetic works ever produced and the generous selection at the Gropius rewards a deep dive.
Gallery Weekend is also a time of endings, sadly, and if one ventures up to Mitte, it provides the last chance to see Walked the Way Home in the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, an exhibition of the works of Eric Baudelaire. East of Elsewhere nearby will exhibit a potentially fun show entitled Cardboard Späti involving three artists, Jack Penny, Arthur Laidlaw and Vivian le Vavasseur. The show purports to celebrate Berlin’s culture of the “spätkauf” or “late shop” where one can find a drink after and between hanging out at the bars. Farther east still, Capitan Petzel will be opening an exhibition by Kelley Walker that looks promising. Petzel’s cavernous space can often dwarf the works inside it, but Walker’s expansive sensibility would seem to be an ideal fit for a space that rewards grand gestures. I admit to approaching the show with some trepidation, but hope springs eternal. More southerly, the wonderful project space Horse and Pony Fine Arts in Neukolln will host a large group show curated by Penny Rafferty which will include works from Zuzanna Czebatul, Kathy Acker and a host of others. Horse and Pony remains a truly special place and, given that the opening of the exhibition is the 29th, it might be the ideal place to end Gallery Weekend before slumping in Kornerpark nearby from exhaustion.