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The Ballery, Berlin

Opening its doors in 2013, Schöneberg’s The Ballery has billed itself as a “salon style art space.” One of the space’s founders Simon Williams (the other being Otto Oscar Hernandez) tells us why the space differs from the rest of the galleries berlin has to offer

Paula Kenny: What is The Ballery?

Simon Williams: The Ballery is a collective thinking space where there is no fear and where we are building another type of reality for the public.

It is not that we are building a stage, but rather mixing theatre together with our private life. We are building a frame where the artworks can speak. We are building alternative realities in-between other people’s realities.

Everything is built through personal experiences, not following schedules and being devoted not only to art, but to ourselves. 

PK: How do artists work with it?

SM: We present what we have and what we live with. The creational line of what we are showing is random and it is an aesthetic that comes from inside. The Ballery does not tell you where to look or what to read or what it is exactly all about. The Ballery is a bunch of colours that are, and also are not so random. You just come in and it is a living room. You can sit and let the works work on you. You are coming to a home that is collecting works, artworks that we could imagine having in our own home for a period of time and that is what we share with the public. We organise concerts because that is what we want in our home. 

PK: How is it different from other art spaces?

SW: We are questioning what an art space should be. In our work we are researching and tackling the space through the art. The Ballery is proud to be a social space – connecting with neighbours and developing activities that bring a diversity of people together. The Ballery is mixing the public with the personal and is becoming a place where friends can share a beer or ,at time,s a space where people can perform. The Ballery adapts to different communities. It is not only about the art, and we are not just about exhibiting. When people discover the intimate life of the Ballery, and that we have been here the whole time, then The Ballery becomes their neighbour.

We are not a clean, white box. The Ballery is firstly and pretty much its owners. Dogs are also allowed!

The process is the most important thing, not the result. We love building the exhibitions and bringing people here to collaborate and participate. The Ballery does not follow the rules of a traditional gallery with brochures, price lists and fairs. We connect with people and try to bring them into the space to discuss their ideas.

PK: What else is the Ballery doing?

SW: You decide.

There are some people who know what we are doing and they have the words for that. You discover what we are doing, your words are out there waiting for us. Sometimes we need distance from The Ballery as it is also kind of a mess! All our insecurities are here too. What we do with hanging and lighting is self reflective. The works come to us, we don’t always choose them. We work with what we have. We close the door and we discover what the works are telling us. Other galleries don’t show things that they are not following. They follow a strong line. These places know what quality is, and have a formula and format for that. We also have a standard, but we also work with artworks we don’t like. It is important that there is some kind of balance. 

What are we following? What is the goal? Is it ok not to have one?

When we manage to know what we are, things are always better. Until then… often art knows what he/she/it is but doesn’t know how to say it.