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Berlin Art Week: Who’s the fairest of them all?

The big art bang is upon us! From September 11-16, Berlin’s art scene explodes with fairs, fêtes and even food. Where to go? Exberliner knows!

Clockwise from left: Stroke; Preview; Berliner Liste; abc From September 11-16, Berlin’s art scene explodes with fairs, fêtes and even food. Where to go? Exberliner knows! Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, to not just one fair but four! Last year saw a host of smaller, more alternative art fairs scrambling to fill the vacuum left by Art Forum’s 2010 demise, with Art Berlin Contemporary emerging as the most likely successor. This year, ABC rears its head alongside Preview as part of the new Berlin Art Week initiative. For six days, Berlin’s best and brightest artists, art institutions and commercial galleries unite to showcase the city’s unique scene, drawing an eager, wallet-brandishing international crowd. Only Preview and ABC are official affiliates of Berlin Art Week, but Berliner Liste and Stroke will also be joining the fray. As if that weren’t enough, early September also sees the announcement for the Preis der Neuen Nationalgalerie, the opening of DUVE Berlin’s new Kreuzberg gallery and, on the 14th, a hotly-tipped mystery exhibition staged by Future Gallery with one of Berlin’s most prized artist exports, Gregor Schneider. Here’s Exberliner’s guide to the fairs, not forgetting the parallel events and shows all huddled under the Art Week umbrella. Art Berlin Contemporary (ABC) When Sep 13 (opening + BBQ, 18-21:00), Sep 14 (12-20:00), Sep 15-16 (12-19:00) Where Station Berlin, Luckenwalder Str. 4-6, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Gleisdreieck, Tel 030 2190 9834 How much €8/6 In a nutshell A large commercial art fair with a top selection from the international scene – and some less established artists, just to keep things interesting. Background ABC is a private initiative launched in 2008 by nine Berlin galleries: Galerie Guido W. Baudach, Mehdi Chouakri, Galerie Kamm, Klosterfelde, Meyer Riegger, Galerie Neu, Neugerriemschneider, Esther Schipper and Zak Branicka. Now happily ensconced in a massive former train station, the fair takes advantage of its architecturally unique setting, presenting the work in a more experimental and contextualised way than other international art fairs. New this year For the 2012 fair, ABC has jettisoned the thematic approach of previous years, requesting instead that galleries act as ‘producers for their artists’ by submitting their own proposals to the fair’s committee. New York nonprofit Artist’s Space will be organising a bazaar and presenting two interventions into the site of the fair. Don’t forget to pencil in the parallel ‘Miss Read’ independent publishing fair, also taking place in the station. The vibe Art world darlings mingle with homegrown superstars and the collectors who love them. The numbers 7000sqm exhibition space / 128 galleries / 18 countries / 15,000 visitors in 2011 PREVIEW BERLIN When Sep 13 (18-22:00), Sep 14-16 (13-20:00) Where Tempelhof Airport, Hangar 2, Columbiadamm 10, Tempelhof, U-Bhf Platz der Luftbrücke, Tel 030 7407 3788 How much €10/6 In a nutshell An exclusive mid-sized fair showcasing a new generation of emerging local and international artists. Background Berlin’s “emerging art fair” was founded in 2005 by Kristian Jarmuschek (Jarmuschek + Partner), Rüdiger Lange (loop – raum für aktuelle kunst) and Ralf Schmitt (MyVisit.to). Now in its fifth year at Tempelhof, the (almost) invite-only event focuses on young, emerging galleries, generally hand-picked by organisers and the fair committee. It’s also more streamlined than the other fairs, as galleries may only show one work per artist. New this year The Focus Academy expands its scope with graduates of eight German art academies on show, up from last year’s four. One third of the fair’s participants are Berlin-based, but spunky rising galleries from Colombia, Mexico, Turkey, Latvia and Romania liven up the established mix. Debuting in 2012 are spotlight solo walls neighbouring the traditional whitecube stands. Beyond the hangars, a 28sqm LED wall at Potsdamer Platz will screen cutting-edge video art for the public during the day. The vibe With its selectiveness and focus on newdevelopments and fresh approaches, Preview’s a scenester playground. The numbers 4030sqm exhibition space / 57 international galleries / 14 different countries / 12,000 visitors in 2011 BERLINER LISTE When Sep 12 (opening; 18:00) Sep 13-Sep 15 (13–21:00), Sep 16 (13-19:00) Where MUMA, Köpenicker Straße 70, Mitte, U-Bhf Heinrich-Heine-Str. Tel 030 7700 8993 How much €8/5, free for children 12 and under In a nutshell Berlin’s fringe commercial art fair. Background Berlin gallerist Wolfram Völcker founded the fair in 2004 as an alternative to Art Forum. With the demise of its forerunner, Berliner Liste is growing. New this year The enthusiastic new management team includes curator Dr. Gerhard Charles Rump, former art critic and editor at Die Welt. Only two-thirds of 2012 applications were accepted, making for a much better selection. Attempting to cater to all the senses, this year’s fair also features a special “food concept” serving up organic nibbles along with presentations about art, food and music by artists, critics and others. The vibe The ex-power plant attracts the indie commercial art scene’s power players – an offbeat, increasingly international crowd. The numbers 2150sqm exhibition space on two floors / 125 exhibitors from 25 countries / 10,000 visitors in 2011 STROKE When Sep 13 (19-24:00), Sep 14-16 (13-23:30) Where Postbahnhof, Strasse der Pariser Kommune 8, Friedrichshain, S-Bhf Ostbahnhof, Tel 030 6981 2820 How much €10/8, day ticket €15, free for children under 16 In a nutshell A fun, laid-back urban art exhibition with multiple DIY screen-printing opportunities – slightly gimmicky, but ideal for those who aren’t too arty-farty. Background Originally started as a two-day experiment in Munich in 2009, STROKE is returning to Berlin for the third time with urban art at centre stage. Galleries and artists apply for spaces via the website www.urbanartfair.org; prices start at a bargain €150. New this year Anime comes to Berlin as Polish artist Robert Proch dedicates a room to the once-ridiculed Japanese cult genre. Other painted rooms showcase murals and graffiti from new, young international artists. The vibe Like a day at Mauerpark. The opening night keeps it young and stylish, but screaming children will be creating their own fridge masterpieces in the crèche on Sunday. The numbers 30 galleries / 2500sqm indoor exhibition space / 2000sqm outdoor exhibition space / 20+ countries Berlin Art Week: the movers and shakers speak Michael Ruiz, Future Gallery: “Any opportunity to bring serious attention to the art scene here is a worthwhile endeavour … People can see what the galleries have to offer as they return after summer break.” Polina Stroganova, director of Galerie Crone and ABC participant: “Berlin Art Week is of course a very young project … I feel that there might be a need to clarify the general goals and strategies. What exactly is the unifying programme? What role does commercial success play? Which public are we addressing? But I’m excited to be part of ABC.” Jason Benedict, artist, curator and director of WerkStadt: “Preview is my favourite because of the historical context of Tempelhof Airport and its architecture…it doesn’t have the overarching atmosphere of a boating trade show or a consumer electronics premiere that permeates so many international art fairs.” Alexander Duve, owner of DUVE Gallery: “Finally we have it! Perfect! Springtime has the Gallery Weekend and the second part of the year the Art Week! Museums, the galleries and ABC are putting forces together, making a trip to Berlin even more attractive for collectors and art enthusiasts!” Nadja Sayej, host and creator of Berlin-based gonzo vlog Artstars*: “Berlin Art Week is a great time to hear people say what they really think about the art scene in one mass volume superstore environment, kind of like IKEA. My favourite has got to be Preview, just trying to find the front door! Things are labelled in German, there are no lights, and next thing you know – you’re in an abandoned parking lot. Better yet, a bunker. Insider tip? The real party is in the washrooms.” And don’t miss… Der Alchimist (The Alchemist): Later photography by Heinz Hajek-Halke, Akademie der Künste, Sep 8-Nov 4. Alfredo Jaar, The way it is. An Aesthetic of Resistance, Alte Nationalgalerie, through Sep 17, closing party Sep 16 (19:00). Guy Ben Ner, 12 x 12 Videolounge, Berlinische Galerie, Sep 9-26. Timeless Beauty: 100 years of fashion photography from Man Ray to Maria Testino, C/O Berlin, Aug 18-Oct 28. Jörg Sasse, Common Places, C/O Berlin, Sep 8-Oct 28. Arno Brandlhuber, Archipel, n.b.k., Sep 8-Nov 4, Agathe Fleury, n.b.k., Sep 11-Nov 2.