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Berlin art: What exhibitions are on now?

What's going on in the art world and which Berlin exhibitions should you check out this week?

Evidence & Experiment: ‘Earth Indices’. Photo: HKW

New: Earth Indices. Processing the Anthropocene

Haus der Kulturen der Welt has done pioneering work with its exhibitions and events on the Anthropocene – the geological age marked by human impact on the planet. The exhibition ‘Earth Indices’ is based on the findings of a group of international scientists who researched the practices and instruments that leave geological traces. The artists Armin Linke and Giulia Bruno accompanied the Anthropocene Working Group and provide comment and elaboration on their work throughout the exhibition. The show marks the end of the Anthropocene series at HKW, along with the tenure of long-time director Bernd Scherer.

New: Ser Serpas

Barbara Weiss
Exhibition view of Ser Serpas, “HEAD BANGER BOOGIE” at Galerie Barbara Weiss, 2022 Photo: Jens Ziehe

What’s going on here? That’s what you ask yourself when you enter the Barbara Weiss Gallery in Kreuzberg; furniture, garbage cans and building material are strewn across the room. This is art that exhilarates, irritates or even angers. The items are all things that Serpas found on Berlin’s streets within a few weeks. The young US artist stacks, assembles and arranges the street trash into poetic sculptures – a concept she has already implemented in other cities. Art made from trash is nothing new, but Serpa’s playful yet thoughtful approach is very refreshing.

  • Barbara Weiss Gallery Kohlfurter Strasse 41/43, Kreuzberg, Tue-Sat 11-18

New: Hackers, Makers, Thinkers

Constanza Piña Pardo, “Khipu”, 2018, sound installation. Photo: Constanza Piña Pardo/ Art Laboratory Berlin

The past two years have profoundly changed the way we interact with each other. While some are now throwing themselves into togetherness, others are still loners. With the project ‘Hackers, Makers, Thinkers‘, the innovative Art Laboratory Berlin addresses the question of which social possibilities can be revived. Artists from Berlin and guest artists from Latin America and Southeast Asia will present a group exhibition, an interdisciplinary conference, workshops and performances at various venues. An exciting mix of art, knowledge and community.

  • Art Laboratory Berlin Prinzenallee 34, Wedding, opening: Fri, 20.5., 20h; 21.5.-10.6., Thu-Sun, 14-18, free admission

New: ‘Temple of Love – To Hide’ at Künstlerhaus Bethanien

Gaëlle Choisne, “Lie close to our ancestors” (Detail), 2020-2022, 7 x 2 m, Foto: Air de Paris

With the exhibition ‘Temple of Love – To Hide’, Künstlerhaus Bethanien presents a new edition of ‘Temple of Love’ – an evolving long-term project by scholarship holder Gaëlle Choisne, which is constantly recreated depending on its location and contributors. In several exhibited video works, this French artist with Haitian roots deals with political complexity and the possibility of healing through the exchange of experiences and respect for one’s own origins. Part of the multimedia installation is also a carpet (you can even sit on it!) woven by women in the Moroccan mountains, and decorated by Choisne with small portraits of inspiring personalities.

  • Künstlerhaus Bethanien Kottbusser Str. 10/d, Kreuzberg, Tue-Sun 11-13, 19.05.-12.06.

New: ‘Weniger’ at Kunstverein on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

Beate Gripp, “Less”, Photo: Kunstverein am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

Art has finally discovered the climate, as numerous exhibitions in Berlin have shown in recent weeks. The climate crisis is omnipresent and doesn’t care if we already have enough going on with pandemics and wars. But looking away doesn’t help either, and at the Kunstverein am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz there are good reasons to have a closer look. The exhibition ‘2052’ takes its exhibits out of the gallery and into public space. 22 international artists, from Monica Bonvicini to Jost Wischnewski, have created works in the form of posters that can be placed outside and as flyers.

  • Kunstverein am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz Linienstr. 40, Mitte, Wed-Fri 14-19, Torstraße all day, until 17.06.

Last Chance: Omnibus

A show 10 years in the making. Out in Schöneberg, Kinderhook and Caracas have been displaying the works of young Berlin artists for a decade – and this show is a collection of their greatest hits. There are more than 80 featured artists, some of whom like Brent Wadden and Claudia Comte have since achieved great success. Ultimately, this show is a testament to the value of a city with its own, artist-run, project spaces – providing a much needed platform for emerging artists. Read our full review here.

Kinderhook and Caracas, Kreuzbergstraße 42E, Fri-Sat 14-18, until 28.05

Last Chance: Tape Art

Tape Art Convention Artist Numen For Use Photo: Numen / For Use

Street artists in the US first discovered coloured tape as an artistic alternative to spray cans. Today, artists like Dutchman Max Zorn show their taped works in renowned museums and at art fairs. He is one of the 30 artists and collectives who will be on display at the Tape Art Convention (TAC22) in the Napoleon Komplex exhibition hall. Organised by the Berlin-based collective Tape That, TAC22 offers a packed programme of exhibitions, talks and workshops. You will get a comprehensive insight into the international tape art scene, of which Berlin is considered the epicentre, and you can get right into the art: the walk-through installation by Numen/For Use leads through a web of tape up to the ceiling of the exhibition hall.

  • Napoleon Komplex Modersohnstr. 35–45, Friedrichshain, opening: Sat May 7, 19, Tue–Sun 12–21, from 5€, through May 21.

The Worlds of Schliemann

Büste von Heinrich Schliemann im Neuen Museum Foto: bpk / Hans Christian Krass

In 1844, at the age of 22, Heinrich Schliemann took a job in an import-export firm and was sent to St Petersburg to conduct business. He quickly learned Russian and Greek (he claimed it took him just six weeks to learn a language) and used his skills to conduct more trade internationally. By the time he retired at just 36, he’d started a bank in Sacremento, sold gold in California, cornered the market in indigo dye and profited from becoming a military contractor in the Crimean War. And this is only where his story begins. Following Schliemann’s success in business, he retired to become a full-time archeologist and devoted himself to finding the remains of the mythical city of Troy, mentioned in Homer’s Iliad. What’s even more remarkable: he managed it. A new exhibition at James-Simon-Galerie revisits his disputed legacy. 

Read our full review of the show here.

The Little George Grosz Museum

Skull-faced soldiers, war profiteers, sex workers, politicians and bank clerks all wander the streets of Berlin in the grotesque and compelling pictures of Geroge Grosz, who might be the greatest visual chronicler of the interwar period in this city. Strangely, for someone who so defined an era, he’s not had a dedicated museum until now. In the appropriately urban setting of a converted petrol station off Bülowstrasse, Das kleine Grosz Museum (The little Grosz Museum) opens on May 13.

It was also our art editor’s pick of the month.

Nina Canell

Nina Canell und Robin Watkins: “Energy Budget“, 2017 – 2018, 4K Video, 16:03 Min,  
Photo: Nina Canell und Robin Watkins (Video Still

Berlin-based artist Nina Canell has a new show at Berlinische Galerie. Her work is very focused on process. Accordingly, one work in this show is simply a room filled with seven tonnes of mollusc shells laid out on the floor. This might seem bizarre, but we soon learn that calcite, or crushed seashells, are a key ingredient in concrete and sense the natural world that is exploited for our manufactured urban landscapes. Nature and technology also collide in some of her video works, made in collaboration with Robin Watkins. 

Last Chance: Arriving. Life After Forced Migration

Während die meisten Einwohner von Irpin versuchen, aus der Stadt zu fliehen, überquert diese junge Frau den Fluss, um zu ihrer kranken Großmutter nach Irpin zurückzukehren. 04.03.2022, Irpin, Ukraine, Europa Foto: Mila Teshaieva / OSTKREUZ

An exhibition from the Ostkreuz photography agency shows pictures from Ukraine, documenting both life in Kyiv and portraying refugees they’ve interviewed about their current situation. Photographers Johanna-Maria Fritz and Mila Teshaieva have both been in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, and the exhibition puts their work within the larger context of the ongoing conflict. The show will be held at the Zionskirche Berlin, and is organised together with Vitsche, an association of young Ukrainians in Germany. The exhibition includes a reading, a concert and a discussion (May 14, 25 and 28, each at 19:00).

  • Zionskirche Zionskirchplatz, Mitte, Mon–Sat 14:00–18:00, Sun 12:00–16:00 

Julia Stoschek Collection

Jacolby Satterwhite „Moments of Silence“, 2019. Photo: Alwin Lay

Time and again, the utopian potential of art is evoked as a space in which something new can emerge through experimentation. Quite what this might look like is shown in 25 video works ranging from Joan Jonas’s early performance videos to the animated worlds of Jacolby Satterwhite. At the same time, visitors can view the newly acquired multimedia and interactive installation, “Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?” Stephanie Comilang and Simon Speiser have created an AI work through interviews with activists and healers in the Philippines and Ecuador. As a kind of spiritual memory, it preserves valuable knowledge for future generations.

Get our full review of At Dawn from the Julia Stoschek Collection here!

  • Julia Stoschek Collection, Leipziger Str. 60, Mitte, Sat/Sun 12–18, 5€, free admission under 18, through December 4.

Conny Maier

Conny Maier Hit, 2022. Photo: Lukas Zerrahn / Courtesy © Conny Maier and Société

In a room full of paintings, you’d recognise Conny Maier’s expressive works in an instant. The bent bodies, the faces with widened eyes and mouths – are they surprised or frightened? Between horror and humour, the young Berlin artist discusses fundamental themes, such as class relations and body politics in large-format oil paintings. This self-taught artist was awarded the Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year 2020” prize in 2020. In her new works for the exhibition at Galerie Sociéte, Maier exposes people to the uncontrollability of both their own and the surrounding nature.

  • Sociéte Wielandstr. 26, Charlottenburg, Mon–Sat 10–18, through June 3.

Wilhelm Hallen

Remodelling works at Mehdi Chouakri, Wilhelm Hallen, 2022. Photo: Patxi Bergé / Courtesy Mehdi Chouakri Berlin

On April 29, gallery owner Mehdi Chouakri, custodian of the estate of Charlotte Posenenske, will open a new art space (with a publicly accessible Posenenske archive) in the 1,000sqm Wilhelm Hallen in Reinickendorf. He planned the conversion and extension of the iron foundry hall with architect Philipp Mainzer. For Gallery Weekend, works by John M. Armleder and Sylvie Fleury will be on display alongside works by Posenenske. In the entrance area, the Swiss artist John Armleder has created the mural Sausage with Flames. On the roof, the neon work Yes to All by French artist Sylvie Fleury will shine.  

Wilhelm Hallen, Kopenhagener Str. 60-72, Reinickendorf (S-Bhf. Wilhelmsruh), 29.4. from 19h, 30.4./1.5. 11-18h, until 23.7.

Haegue Yang

Haegue Yang, Barbell-Powered Sunrising Soul Sheet Atop Another – Mesmerizing Mesh #79 2021 Hanji, Halbrundstäbe aus Kiefernholz auf Alu-Dibond, gerahmt 62 x 62 cm Photo: Studio Haegue Yang / Courtesy Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin

Very different this time. Haegue Yang has already enchanted the documenta Hall in Kassel and the Danish National Gallery with her kinetic Venetian Blinds. Yang, who splits her time between Berlin and Seoul, builds virtuoso sculptures and spaces out of industrially manufactured objects used in the home. In her Berlin gallery, however, works on Korean paper now come to the fore. Alongside five sculptures, including two figures artfully woven from bells and metal rings, Yang is showing collages that quote East Asian shamanic rituals. A book presenting traditional paper techniques in Japan and Korea will be published to accompany the exhibition.

Galerie Barbara Wien Schöneberger Ufer 65, 3rd floor, Tiergarten, 29.4 18-21, 30.4/ 1.5 11-19, otherwise Tue-Fri 11-18, Sat 11-16, until 30.7.

Levy senior und Levy junior

Meret Oppenheim: “Word, wrapped in poisonous letters (becomes transparent)”, 1970, object: string, engraved brass plate, 31 x 14 x 39.5 cm Photo: Henning Rogge, Hamburg / © Meret Oppenheim/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022 / Courtesy LEVY Galerie / © ProLitteris, Switzerland

Alexander Levy has moved his gallery from Kreuzberg to Moabit, next to the gallery of his father Thomas Levy, who also returns to Berlin from Hamburg. While Levy senior primarily presents art from the second half of the 20th century, including works by Daniel Spoerri and Meret Oppenheim (pictured), Levy junior focuses on conceptual contemporary art. In Moabit, he is showing works by Egor Kraft: the interdisciplinary artist links themes such as archaeology and economics with artificial intelligence. At Alexander Levy’s old location in Kreuzberg’s Rudi-Dutschke-Straße, Julius von Bismarck’s mobile construction for outer space is on display until May 1.                              

Galerie Levy, Galerie Alexander Levy, Alt-Moabit 110, Moabit, 29.4. 18-21, 30.4./1.5. 11-19, otherwise Wed-Sat 11-18h, until 11.6.

Zhanna Kadyrova, Xenia Hausner

Zhanna Kadyrova: “Palianytsia”, 2022, Found river stones, variable dimensions. Photo: Ivan Sautkin / Courtesy Zhanna Kadyrova and Galleria Continua

Unintended Beauty is the title of the exhibition by Viennese artist Xenia Hausner. The former stage designer leaves nothing to chance in her colourful paintings. She stages people, mainly women, in self-made settings, photographs them and paints them in a space between reality and fiction (until June 19). Parallel to this, gallery owner Johann König presents another great artist. Ukrainian Zhanna Kadyrova is best known for her mosaic sculptures. The multidisciplinarian always works site-specifically and amazes with her playful use of urban building materials such as glass, stone and concrete. At König, she showcases sculptures created after she fled to western Ukraine (until 20.5.).       

König Galerie in St. Agnes Church, Alexandrinenstr. 118-121, Kreuzberg, 29.4. 18-21, 30.4./ 1.5. 11-19, otherwise Tue-Sat 10-18, Sun 12-18, until 19.6. and 20.5. respectively.

El Hadji Sy

El Hadji Sy: ‘Silhouettes Critiques’, 2022, Photo: Jens Ziehe / Courtesy Galerie Barbara Thumm / Le Cheval de Ndagane, 2021 / Pianist Finger, 2021 / Femme Casamancaise, 2021

The Dakar-based painter, performer and activist El Hadji Sy has been shaping the Senegalese art scene since the 1970s. There he has founded art centres and contributed to the visibility of African art outside the continent by way of international exhibitions. Painted rice jute sacks are characteristic of Sy’s work. But paper, canvases and house walls also serve as backdrops for his paintings, in which people, animals and symbols form a unity.

Galerie Barbara Thumm Markgrafenstr. 68, Kreuzberg, 29.4. 18-21, 30.4./1.5. 11-19, otherwise Wed-Sat 12-18, until 30.7.

Hamlet Lavastida

Hamlet Lavastida. Photo: Yvonne de Andrés for Künstlerhaus Bethanien

When Hamlet Lavastida returned to Havana from his Berlin scholarship, the regime critic was arrested. Now he’s back in Berlin, in exile. For Gallery Weekend, he presents 45 works from the past year at Galerie Crone, in which art and political agitation mix. In one of the rooms, 20 of his cut-outs are hanging, abstracting prison buildings in Cuba.

Crone Berlin Fasanenstr. 29. Charlottenburg, 29 Apr, 18-21, 30 Apr/1 May, 11-19, otherwise Tue-Sat 12-18, until Jun 18

Michel Majerus

Installation view ‘paintings’, Galerie Neugerriemschneider, Berlin (19.11.-23.12.1994)
Photo: © Michel Majerus Estate, 2022 / Courtesy neugerriemschneider, Berlin

At the age of only 35, Michel Majerus (1967-2002) died in a plane crash. In his short creative phase, the Luxembourg painter and Berlin resident became a formative figure of the 1990s. He mixed pop culture and art history, extended painting from the canvas to space, and was one of the first to use digital tools. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his death, his work is being honoured with the exhibition series Michel Majerus 2022 in several Berlin art venues. To kick things off, the Michel Majerus Estate is showing works by the artist together with works by his two professors Joseph Kosuth and K.R.H. Sonderborg. Read our full preview here.

Michel Majerus Estate Knaackstr. 12, Prenzlauer Berg, 28.4. 11-18, 29.4. 11-21, 30.4. 11-19, otherwise Sat 11-18, until 18.3.23

Layer Cake

LAYER CAKE – The Versus Project 2 Layer Cake versus Chaz Bojorquez. Photo: Lukas Prasse/© Chaz Bojorquez

Painting, spraying and glueing over other people’s urban artworks is a red flag among street artists. But exceptions prove the rule, which is why the artist duo Layer Cake invited 13 international colleagues to paint over each other’s works – on a canvas, one might add. The project space of Urban Nations, the museum for street art in Schöneberg, is now showing the results.

  • Urban Nations Projektraum, Bülowstr. 97, Schöneberg, Tue-Wed, 10-18, Thu-Sun 12-20, free admission, through July 31

Tacita Dean

Tacita Dean, “Antigone (offset)“ 2021. Photo: Hans-Georg Gaul/©Tacita Dean und BORCH Editions, Kopenhagen/Berlin

Ancient literature is blatantly silent about how Antigone and her brother/father Oedipus actually got along. Tacita Dean wanted to fill the void in 2013 with a film about the two. Borch Editions shows colourful pairs of offset lithographs that Dean made with Borch Editions in 2021 after the film, and which bear witness to the pride and joy of the gallery: the printing art of their workshop. Which, by the way, is presented in Nils Borch’s Jensen’s beautiful coffee-table book No Plan at All (Hatja Cantz 2021).

  • Galerie Borch Goethestr. 79, Charlottenburg, Wed-Sat 11-18, through June 4

Marx and capitalism

Marx’s personal copy of Das Kapital with handwritten notes. Photo: International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam / Otto Meissner Hamburg, 1867

Marx was a man of contradictions. “There was no general theoretical concept in Karl Marx’s work,” says curator Sabine Kritter about the exhibition “Karl Marx and Capitalism” at the Deutsches Historisches Museum – a bold claim about the thought of a philosopher who famously categorised society into proletariat, bourgeoisie and capital. The defining motif of the DHM exhibition is to highlight the ambivalences in his work. Marx, for example, condemned the bloodlust of counter-revolutionaries but approved of the potential violence of communards from the working class. His work “On the Jewish Question” was anti-semitic, but at the same time hostility towards Jews was not essential to his work. Visitors of this exhibition do not have to be nerdy Capital scholastics. “It’s about understanding Marx’s thoughts and actions in a simple way,” says Sabine Kritter. Marx in the Deutsches Historisches Museum: here’s what the curator says.

Old building, new content: the Neue Nationalgalerie

Photo: Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects / Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / 2021 Calder Foundation, New York / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York / Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects

The freshly done-up Neue Nationalgalerie is presenting works from its collection dating from 1900 to 1945 under the title “The Art of Society”. These are arranged, not according to art styles, but to social and political themes. The exhibition doesn’t just consist of the museum’s combined inventory from East and West Berlin, but also features works borrowed from artists, such as Auguste Herbin’s glowing portrait of the writer and anarchist Erich Mühsam. The new collection is flanked by a posthumous presentation of works from the sculptor Alexander Calder and by a solo exhibition by the Berlin artist Rosa Barba on the architecture of Mies van der Rohe.

  • Neue Nationalgalerie Potsdamer Str. 50, Tiergarten, Mon-Sun 10-20, Tue-Sun 10-18, Thu until 20, 14€, concessions

Delaine Le Bas at the Gorki Theatre

Delaine Le Bas, “Love N Bullets Revisited 260921”, 2021. Photo: Alexander Christie/Delaine Le Bas

As a white Romany who studied at a prestigious London art school, british artist Delaine Le Bas has always been breaking out of stereotypes. That also goes for her diverse oeuvre, which doesn’t just span across many artistic genres from sculptures to videoclips but also shows Le Bas’s love of textiles. After numerous collaborations with her, the Gorki Theatre is now devoting a solo exhibition to Le Bas as part of the 5. Berliner Herbstsalon, to which she has also invited scientists, activists and other artists. In “Beware of the linguistic engineering”, Le Bas examines the manipulative power of language as used in socio-political events such as Brexit and during the pandemic.

  • Maxim Gorki Theatre Dorotheenstraße 3, Kiosk und Jurte, Mitte, Mon–Sun 12–20, free admission, through June 26.

Galerie im Körnerpark – humans and nature

“Silent Spring“ Photo: Nihad Nino Pušija

What does it sound like when a snail eats a green watermelon? What do birds in a Chinese bamboo forest do all day? The answers to these questions await you at the current exhibition of the communal Galerie im Körnerpark: “Silent Spring”. In this collective effort, international artists examine the relationship between humans and nature, while revealing our inability to fully understand and control nature despite the advance of scientific knowledge and technology. Singaporean artist Robert Zhao Renhui, for example, examines the disappearing habitats of birds in China. The finely-tuned composition of video recordings and sound shows the relationship we have with the living creatures around us.  

Berlinische Galerie shows photos (and ideas) of fashion

Ulrike Ottinger, „Aelita“ (Tabea Blumenschein), Berlin, 1974–1976. Photo: Ulrike Ottinger/Berlinische Galerie

Fashion can make transformation possible – maybe not within seconds, but certainly in a short amount of time. Just like here in the photograph of Tabea Blumenschein taken by filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger in the mid-1970s. The title reads Aelita, after the main character of the Soviet silent sci-fi movie Aelita: Queen of Mars. Above all, it is the impressive retro-futuristic headdress that catapults Tabea Blumenschein into an entirely different space-time(-person) continuum.

How do we communicate with the system of symbols that is fashion? How do art and fashion relate to one another? The Berlinische Galerie is taking on these questions in a century-spanning exhibition, including photographs, drawings and paintings. 

David Hockney – Landscapes in Dialogue

David Hockney: „Three Trees near Thixendale“, painting: © David Hockney / photo: Richard Schmidt

Near the English village Thixendale, former pop-art artist David Hockney painted the same three trees in both 2008 and 2009. Thixendale near York only has around 180 citizens, yet Hockney decided to give this particular trio of trees the space across eight canvases, each of them spanning about five metres. Every set of canvases shows a classic variation on the subject: trees with leaves, without them or with very few, the adjacent fields painted accordingly. The gallery compares Hockney’s seemingly naive paintings with the works of Dutch and old English landscapists, such as Constable. 

  • Gemäldegalerie Matthäikirchplatz, Tiergarten, Tue-Fri 10-18, Sat/Sun 11-18, €4-8, concessions, through July 10, tickets here

Dayanita Singh

Dayanita Singh: „Offset Raum“, 2022, photo: Luca Girardini 2022 / © Dayanita Singh

Dancing with my Camera is the title of Singh’s exhibition at the Gropius Bau, and indeed, the Indian artist is taking photos with her Hasselblad pressed to her stomach, using her bellybutton as a tripod. It gives her more freedom of movement, especially when she’s at festivals and concerts, capturing people dancing, hugging, laughing. Visitors are required to stay in motion, likewise: Singh has designed special mobile structures that allow a much more flexible presentation of the photos than when just put on a wall. They can even be used to form entire ensembles like the one shown in the Offset Raum of 2022.  

  • Gropius Bau, Niederkirchnerstr. 7, Kreuzberg, Wed-Mon 10-19, €6-9, concessions, through August 7, tickets here