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Olafur Eliasson/smoke and mirrors
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THE BEST: Street smart Stroke.03, the first international fair officially devoted to ‘urban art’, finally found its way to the global capital of street art, in a former postal freight depot in Kreuzberg. Although it returns to Munich in 2011 in search of people with money, its natural fit in Berlin won’t be matched.
Hirst-hype burst What if Damien Hirst had an exhibition and nobody cared? Hirst’s self-aggrandizing summertime offering at Haunch of Venison might be the biggest crock of shit he’s ever done. The exhibition was awful, but Berlin’s reaction was beautiful.
Smoke and mirrors Olafur Eliasson’s city-wide summer installation Innen Stadt Außen (Inner City Outside) brilliantly merged public and private spaces. The Danish-Icelandic artist who now calls Berlin home put on the most evocative show of the year with help from the Martin-Gropius-Bau.
Frida frenzy Frida Kahlo’s status as a modern feminist icon was further cemented at this summer’s Mega-schau, also at Martin-Gropius-Bau. The 120 paintings and drawings on display constituted the largest selection of her work ever shown… and the longest lines of sawed-off stilettos waiting up to three hours just to get in.
What next, MMX? The one-year seven-show project that was MMX resuscitated artist-collective culture in Berlin. Doors close on the scrappy, fun experiment with a New Year’s Eve climax. But is this the end? A concept this good won’t go gently into the night. Rumour has it they’ll relocate to Brazil or even much closer… Rosenthaler Straße wouldn’t be that bad either.
Child’s play Neugerriemschneider may have had commercial motives, but turning over its Art Basel booth to Billy Childish was bold and brilliant, and reportedly had Francesca von Habsburg salivating.
Photo palace For 10 years, C/O Berlin has had 2,000 sq. metre of the best real estate in town to put a glossy face on the Berlin photo art scene. But now Israeli investors are planning a hotel for the site and C/O is due to exit the Postfuhramt soon, with a plan to permanently relocate to a former bunker in Montbijoupark just down the road. Hotshot architect Ingo Pott (of Reichstag dome fame) has already come up with a slick model. Let’s see.
Art gets brainy 2010 was the Berlin year of science, and art took notes. The Schering Stiftung explored the uneasy art-science relationship, the microphotography exhibition at the Museum für Fotografie required a lab coat, and algorithmic poetry at DAM warned of the future. It all culminated at the end of the year in the mass nerd orgy that is Weltwissen at Martin-Gropius-Bau.
Buried booty While preparing for construction of the U5 extension, excavators unearthed a treasure trove of ‘degenerate art’ confiscated and hidden by Nazis right in front of City Hall. Odd hiding place. The classic modernist bronze and ceramic sculptures are well-preserved, considering they have been underground for six decades.
THE WORST: Temporary shut down After 24 months of chaotic albeit valiant programming, Temporäre Kunsthalle closed its doors in August. Okay, the name was kind of a warning. But we had hopes. Finally, it seemed there’d been a decent compromise following the demolition of the Palast der Republik. With the disappearance of the big white box, Berlin is left with its Freudian quest for a missing Kunsthalle unresolved, especially after the Jewish Museum snatched the spot at the Blumengroßmarkt on Friedrichstraße.
Game over The Christie’s-owned Haunch of Venison played by all the rules. Great space. Prime location. Good international shows. But now it’s closing up shop and retreating to the safety of richer cities. Chalk one up to Berlin art world independence! Not. At some point our anti-establishment obsession will be a liability leading to irrelevance. Come on, Berlin. We’re not an island anymore.
Museum FKK Naked figures in museums are common. Twirling naked flesh: well, more and more. The Bode Museum presented us with Mozart’s Titus and Haydn’s Orpheus and Eurydice. Nothing wrong with museums tapping into alternative revenue streams, but some things are better left to the imagination.
Strapped for inspiration The state-run museums in Berlin are world famous. But the past year has seen lackluster curating and the end of free Thursday evenings. What gives? Hitler at DHM and Caravaggio at the Gemäldegalerie might end the year on a high note, but we expect more.
THE TRENDS: Killjoy openings €3 for a thimble of bad wine. Call me a spoilsport, but pay-for-your-buzz vernissages keep out the riff-raff looking for a free pre-party.
Back to the Wohnzimmer There’s just something good about walls stacked with odd-shaped frames and beveled-edged matting. Salon shows eclectically stuffed with scores of works are making a comeback, led by Autocenter’s Chop Shop and Transzendenz, Inc. and Forgotten Bar’s unc. Maybe conceptualism is dead. Maybe there is a God.
me Collectors So you have a lot of money, buy lots of crazy art while sailing the world with 100 of your closest friends on your yacht, and have nowhere to show it off while the boat’s being repainted? Open up your own private mini-museum, complete with treasure cabinet, live piano playing, gift-shop and fancy café. On Auguststraße, of course.