Köpenicker Straße is a bustling mix of residential and commercial buildings, with very little green lining the street. Bright lights flood a section of the street surrounded by the mobile accessories of a film crew. A couple blocks away, the yuppie-style cooperative housing project SFB Spreefeld is beginning to make its presence felt. And Kraftwerk Mitte, the new avant-art space from Tresor’s Dmitri Hegemann, just closed its first exhibition.
Add to the mix Pony Pedro, an interdisciplinary art studio and gallery. For five years the core group has combined performance, installation and graphic arts. Now with their new expanded space on Köpenicker Straße, they seek to fill a gap in Berlin’s art scene: the representation and exposure of silk-screen printing. The low-tech requirements of the silk-screen process make it a perfect tool for mass-producing graphic posters with anti-establishment messaging. And makes Berlin the perfect place for silk-screeners.
Sebastian Wagner, a founding member of the Pony Pedro collective and curator of the upcoming exhibition Ein Blick Drauf (“A Look at It”), knows that Berlin’s silk-screening scene is big enough to warrant more formal gallery exhibitions, rather than relying on the more common duct-taped-to-telephone-poll format. He also understands that this form of art is more accessible to the potential art collectors one finds in Berlin: print prices are often under €100.
Seeking refuge from Stuttgart, Wagner found his way to Germany’s creative capital, where he says “life doesn’t have to be normal”. He began working with and observing other printmakers, dismissing the reclusive artist stereotype in favor of the socially conscious and active printmaking form. Pony Pedro has taken their work as far as South Africa, working with youth using printmaking as a mode of public debate.
The prints in the show are from Berlin-based artists. Exhibited together they successfully present silk-screen printing as both socially relevant and beautiful works of art, particularly those from Alexandra Klobouck and Tim Dinter. Whether this show and the new gallery space are able to raise the commercial profile of silk-screen printing remains to be seen – Wagner sees parallels to photography’s recent explosion. But a subversive art form brandishing socio-political messages that can be produced DIY style with very little instruction in any size apartment belongs in Berlin.
EIN BLICK DRAUF | Runs December 13 through January 28.