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Berlin Art Week 2023: The essential shows

Don't know where to start with Berlin Art Week? From VR wombs to an opera in a power plant, these are the essential shows.

Haus am Waldsee, Nina Beier and Bob Kil, All Fours, Pinacoteca Agnelli, Photo Sebastiano Pellion di Persano

The most eventful week in Berlin’s art calendar is also the most heart wrenching – how to choose between so many events, openings and performances! Remember, one of the reasons BAW is so special is that it includes every art venue from all districts of the city, so try to visit spaces you haven’t been to before. And definitely don’t make the mistake of trying to do too much in a single night. Choose one or two and commit.

Universal Metabolism

Photo: Helge Mundt

This is one we’re really excited about. A new concept from the (ongoing) Berlin Atonal festival, Universal Metabolism is a four-day exhibition taking place in the massive Kraftwerk building. Enter the former power plant and a whole series of organic, bodily performances will unfold over the course of four hours. Each day’s exhibition ends in a concert and – at 8pm – an avant-garde opera from Romeo Castellucci. If it sounds insane, it is.

  • Kraftwerk, Köpenicker Str. 70, Mitte, Sep 11-14, details.

BAW Garten

The garden of the Neue Nationalgalerie. Photo: IMAGO / Sabine Gudath

The centrepiece of the entire week is undoubtedly the BAW Garten, which this year is held in the recessed garden area of the Neue Nationalgalerie. Entrance is free, and the venue will present a diverse series of events and workshops. The standout performance will be the performance Cut Piece (1964), by Yoko Ono, everyday from the 12–17th September, 5pm. Although it is unlikely the artist will be present, Berlin performers are interpreting this early work in cooperation with the artist’s studio. The central position of the Neue Nationalgalerie makes it the ideal place to combine with multiple visits, and if you’ve time, pop in and visit the wonderful Isa Genzken exhibition in the main space.

  • Neue Nationalgalerie, Potsdamer Str. 50, Tiergarten, Sep 13-17 all day, details.

Performance by Anan Fries

BAW23_Haus am Lützowplatz, VR Kunstpreis, Anan Fries, Posthuman Wombs, 2023, still (c) Anan Fries

Fusing digital arts with performing arts, Anan Fries’ performance will be an impressive, mind-bending experience that will tie in superbly with the VR installation Posthuman Wombs.

  • Haus am Lützowplatz, Lützowpl. 9, Tiergarten, Sep 13, 20:00-21:00, details.

High Spirits

Monopol-Berlin. Photo: BAW

It was just a matter of time before the former distillery in Reinickendorf would be converted into a contemporary art venue. Featuring Isa Melsheimer, Jenna Sutela and Alain Urrutia, the exhibition at Monopol Berlin explores the role of art in modern industrial societies, investigating how its socio-economic force can be reconciled with its more spiritual, quasi-transcendent capabilities. 

  • Monopol Berlin, Provinzstr. 40-44, Reinickendorf, Sep 13 15:00-20:00, Sep 14-17 12:00-20:00, details.

Temple of dead hypes

Photo: BAW

A rather fun sounding funeral is taking place in Wedding for all the over-hyped art movements that have come and gone. Whether it’s Zombie Formalism or some other fad, everyone’s invited to dress up and get involved.

  • NEW FEARS Gallery, Schererstr. 5, Wedding, Sep 14, 18:00-22:00, details.

Agnes Denes: Early Work

Photo: BAW

The beautifully located, Galerie im Körnerpark, has to be seen to be believed. It will be showing the early works of the pioneering US land artist and environmentalist, Agnes Denes – one of the lesser known highlights of BAW.

  • Galerie im Körnerpark, Schierker Str. 8, Neukölln, Sep 13-17, 10:00-20:00, details.

La Chola Poblete and Lola Bhajan

Lola Bhajan. Photo: Sebastian Freire. La Chola Poblete. Photo: Augustina Lamborizio

An intriguing and hard-hitting performance by performance artist Lola Bhajan will take place alongside an exhibition by La Chola Poblete, an artist critically examining the legacy of colonialism in their home country of Argentinia.

  • PalaisPopulaire, Unter den Linden 5, Mitte, Sep 15, 19:00-20:00, details.

ALL FOURS

Haus am Waldsee, Nina Beier and Bob Kil, All Fours, Pinacoteca Agnelli, Photo Sebastiano Pellion di Persano

On the bucolic lakeside setting of Haus am Waldsee, artists Nina Beier and Bob Kil will be putting on the performance ALL FOURS. Playing tribute to the afterlife of monuments, this slow choreographed performance will see inanimate marble lions brought to life, exploring humanity’s illusion of dominion over planet earth.

  • Haus am Waldsee, Argentinische Allee 30, Zehlendorf, Sep 16-17, 11:00-19:00, details.

POLY. A Fluid Show

BAW23_KINDL, Na Chainkua Reindorf, Gedu Awakening, 2023, © Na Chainkua Reindorf

What if we moved away from monoculture and monogamy and embraced a polycentric way of living? That’s the premise of this intriguing group show, “POLY. A Fluid Show” featuring 30 artists including the excellent Kerstin Brätsch.

  • Kindl, Am Sudhaus 3, Neukölln, Sep 16, 18:00-21:00, Sep 17, 12:00-18:00, details.

WHERE ARE WE NOW

Photo: BAW

You’ll need at least half a day to enjoy the multitude of events going on at Reinickendorf this year. Alongside the ever excellent Medhi Chouakri Galerie, there’s the K60 art fair in Hallen#4 and the largescale exhibition WHERE ARE WE NOW, a deep reflection on authentic utopias.

  • Wilhelm Hallen, Kopenhagener Str. 60-72, Reinickendorf, Sep 13-17, 11:00-20:00, details.

The Assault of the Present on the Rest of Time

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Römisches Stilleben, 1930, oil on canvas, Brücke-Museum, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

BAW sees the opening of an exciting new multi-venue exhibition, exploring how state violence imprints itself onto artist practices. Curated by Katya Inozemtseva, the group show will enter into a dialogue between the work of Johanna Schütz-Wolff and Maria Luiko from the 1930s and contemporary artists such as Simone Fattal and Lawrence Abu Hamdan. Intriguingly the exhibition traces the legacy of works confiscated by the Nazis as “degenerate” from the Schinkel which then found their way to the Brücke-Museum decades later.

  • Schinkel Pavillon, Oberwallstr. 32, Mitte & Brücke Museum, Bussardsteig 9, Dahlem, Sep 14 – Jan 7, details.