Whether you’re a snob, a trend-chaser or a hipster, here’s what to see and do at Berlin Art Week (Sep 13-18).
Its centrepiece may be the three art fairs that invade the city every September (Positions, Berliner Liste and Art Berlin Contemporary [ABC]), but Art Week is also a chance to experience the Berlin art scene in its full glory, from events at the big institutions to splashy shows by art-world stars to grungy project space exhibitions. Between art fairs, talks, screenings, performances and parties, there’s more to do and see than humanly possible.
We’ve put together custom itineraries for every type of Berlin art lover – the highbrow intellectual, the trendy jetsetter and the underground “creative”. All three include a stop at ABC, Berlin’s most prominent art fair, and the biggest draw for international art-world heavyweights (Sep 15-18, Station Berlin, Kreuzberg). Its ninth edition is small but potent, with 62 booths repping 34 Berlin galleries and 12 countries. The fair also goes city-wide on September 16 for ABC Gallery Night (6-9pm), featuring some of this year’s biggest openings.
With years of museum visits under your belt and a tasteful collection of books and catalogues on your shelves, you’re not only knowledgeable, you also expect a certain level of technical and conceptual skill from your art. You tend to skip openings, preferring quiet Sunday afternoon contemplation over hype.
Tuesday — Start your Art Week with Edmund Kuppel’s 2016 Käthe Kollwitz Prize exhibition (Akademie der Künste, Sep 3-Oct 3), which celebrates a lifetime of ingenious photo sculptures that deserve better recognition.
Wednesday — Head to the art-and-science oriented Schering Stiftung, which will open its doors to Berlin/Düsseldorfbased artist Yvonne Roeb’s contemporary take on the “chamber of curiosities” in Im Über All (through Nov 6).
Thursday — Investigate how South African-born, Berlin-based Nicky Broekhuysen has artistically responded to thousand-year-old artefacts at the University Museum of Islamic Art’s Bumiller Collection (Sep 9-Oct 15).
Friday — At ABC Gallery Night, you’re tempted to check out Chiharu Shiota at Blain | Southern – you heard she wowed 2015 Venice Biennale attendees with her gorgeous installation in the Japanese Pavilion – but her exhibition’s on till November 17, so what’s the rush? Instead, head back to AdK for a new interpretation of the sound poetry performance The Ursonate by Kurt Schwitters, paying homage to the 100th anniversary of Dada (7pm).
Saturday — Now’s when you venture out to ABC. Be sure to see Berlin gallerists Żak | Branicka with the prolific Joanna Rajkowska, and Vienna’s Charim Galerie with the social/institutional critique of Lisl Ponger, as well as Copenhagen’s Avlskarl Gallery with second-wave feminist Kirsten Justesen. At the end of the day you’re in the mood for something heady, so make the trek to Wedding gallery Scriptings for a screening of Role Plays, a French documentary film that delves into the concept of aid in the neo-colonial age (with English subs, Sep 17-19, 7:30pm).
Sunday — Charlottenburg’s Elke and Arno Morenz Collection is offering special guided tours this weekend, so sign up and get transported to the heyday of the Parisian avant-garde Lettrism movement (2pm).
When you’re not flying off to Paris, London or New York, you never miss an opening or invite-only preview. You read Artforum to find out who the next big thing is, or you follow the crowds along Auguststraße and Potsdamer Straße. You rarely set foot in a project space, but you love the emerging artist talks at Mitte’s KW.
Tuesday — Get the lowdown on up-and-coming young Berlin artists by heading to the fourth annual Berlin Masters exhibition at Charlottenburg’s Arndt (Sep 9-23).
Wednesday — The Berlin Biennale closes on Sunday, but not without a bang. All the locations host 12 hours of performances and music from noon to midnight today. In between, stop by Haus am Lützowplatz for the opening of a new exhibition by Manifesta curator and Berlin local legend Christian Jankowski (7pm, through Nov 20).
Thursday — See and be seen at the opening of ABC. Try and track down post-conceptualist art star Saâdane Afif at the booth of Berlin gallery Mehdi Chouakri before checking out the confounding photos of Simone Gilges at KM, Frankfurt’s Galerie Bärbel Grässlin with the on-fire painter Secundino Hernández, and Vienna’s Christine König Galerie with exquisite works on paper by duo Micha Payer and Martin Gabriel. Plus the obligatory drinks and schmoozing.
Friday — During the daytime, visit megastar group show Indentations at Niels Borch Jensen Gallery, boasting work by Olafur Eliasson, Tacita Dean and many, many more (Sep 10-Oct 22). Next, freshen up before hitting ABC Gallery Night. Start at Esther Schipper with the playfully bizarre works of Ugo Rondinone, then gallery hop down Potse.
Sunday — Just in case you haven’t seen Cate Blanchett reciting variations on the Manifesto in Julian Rosefeldt’s masterful video installation at Hamburger Bahnhof, today’s your last chance. Later, at 5pm, take a tour of Welt am Draht, the first show at the temporary Berlin satellite location of the Düsseldorf Julia Stoschek Collection, with Wu Tsang, Hito Steyerl and Britta Thie ruminating on time and reality (Sep 15-18).
Most of the time you go to openings because your friends are showing something – or for the free beer. You’ve got an art degree that you’re not currently using, so you make sure to see a lot of exhibitions to stay up on the ironic, post-internet scene.
Tuesday — You’ve been slacking off on exhibitions over the summer, so you haven’t yet hung out with Goshka Macuga’s freaky handsome humanistic robot at Schinkel Pavillon. Catch him now before he leaves on Sep 18.
Wednesday — Put in an early appearance at the opening of witty art hacker Constant Dullaart’s anticipated solo at Future Gallery (6pm) before heading to Hamburger Bahnhof for the opening of Preis der Nationalgalerie winner Anne Imhof’s installation/epic opera Angst II (Sep 14-18, 22-25, 8pm). You’re a sucker for live falcons.
Thursday — Go shopping for art books at project space Lage Egal’s pop-up store (15-19) Then, search for inspiration at Neue Berliner Räume e.V. High-concept exhibition Farewell to an Idea presents ideas for artworks, either framed on the wall or given to attendees to take home. (Sep 15-18, 3pm-6pm). Your friends might head back to Neukölln for drinks, but to gain some cred, head to the opening of ABC for work that’s hot off the press: Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler with on-point collective GCC; Société with Berlin Biennale-ers Timur Sí-Qin and Sean Raspet, and Warsaw’s Profile Gallery with Polish Fluxus legend Jarosław Kozłowski.
Friday — Is cake art? Who cares! Kreuzberg project space Sign, CIAT offers you the chance to contemplate and consume Kuchen at CAKES&TARTS III (3pm-6pm). Next, ABC Gallery Night might feel mainstream but has tons to offer, like the all-star ladies’ line-up of Other People’s Feelings at Johann König (Camille Henrot! Alicja Kwade! Mariechen Danz!). For your dose of post-internet art, head to Galerie Guido W. Baudach showing the famed, celebrity-obsessed Yves Scherer and Florian Meisenberg’s internet-infused works at Wentrup Gallery.
Saturday — Did you see pages of a novel around Berlin last week? John Holten will culminate his public book exhibition with an installation at Neukölln’s Büro BDP. Have brunch at the reception before seeking out some lesser-known international artists at art fair Positions (Postbahnhof, Friedrichshain). At night, the parallel KGB-Kunstwoche culminates with the free “art band” concert KGB Sounds at Heimathafen, including the Berlin-based Artists on Horses and N.U. Unruh’s Beating The Drum (8:30pm).
Sunday — Wind down with the photography-infused, intriguing paintings of Winston Chmielinski in How to Let Go at Magic Beans in Mitte (Sep 2-Oct 2).