The building is one of the last ruins in Berlin. How did HOUSE come about?
Georgina Pope: The property owners were looking to do something with art. But we didn’t just want to do exhibitions, we wanted to have a discourse with this unrenovated building – which led to the name HOUSE. It’s a dialogue with both the past and present, looking at what this space tells us about a new, younger Berlin that’s eliminating its old, romanticised ruins.
Juliet Kothe: We’re interested in the fetishisation of aesthetics of decay and how one day [the space] will be transformed. We found a photograph that showed how our 40-metre long exhibition space was once a Berlin shooting range. Back in the 1930s, this building was a central part of Berlin’s nightlife, alongside Friedrichstraße’s clubs and cinemas.
HOUSE also incorporates the legendary King Size Bar…
JK: Older Berliners will remember King Size. It was so wild and small but also very chic. For this exhibition, we haven’t changed it much. We want people to fill it with their memories of the space. The Scala club was here too, and we’ve found so many people are connected to this building. I came here myself when I first moved to Berlin 15 years ago.
We’re interested in the fetishisation of aesthetics of decay
Could you tell us about the augural show ‘Very Friendly’ curated by Agnes Gryczkowska?
GP: The exhibition is about violence that becomes an environment. Looking at both pre- and post-violence, it delves into the invisibility of systemic cruelty and how fear and uncertainty can result in psychological states of madness. The show comprises works by 16 artists, including Rosemarie Trockel, Romeo Castellucci or Blackhaine.
You’ve been keeping HOUSE under the radar. Why is that?
GP: We haven’t done a lot of press so far. We’ve let people discover us in their own time. It takes away some magic, if you give out too much.
Why does Berlin need a new art space?
JK: It’s definitely not the time for purely aesthetic or random exhibitions. We want to reflect on the current times and create alternative ways to communicate, getting away from constant aggressive headlines. Art can definitely serve that.
Surely the owners, Morgenroth Capital GmbH, will want to develop it?
GP: We can definitely be here until the end of next year. But sometimes it’s good when you can’t go on endlessly. But we want to build a narrative that runs through everything that we do. Maybe it ends up being just five exhibitions.
How involved are they in the programme?
JK: We have carte blanche with this place, and they haven’t intervened once. So it has been a very beautiful invitation so far.
What do they get out of it?
JK: There’s definitely a philanthropic element. They want to support this space and invest in culture. We have brought a lot of experience and a good network. But if HOUSE was going to be pushed in a certain direction, then it wouldn’t work. This is not the case though.
What are your future plans for the space?
GP: We’re curating the next two shows and beyond that we’ll have to see. We’ve built a bar, and in the summer, we want to expand it out into the courtyard. This could be very charming and special because it’s a hidden place despite being so central.
- HOUSE, Friedrichstr. 112 B, Mitte, January 11, 12 & 13, details.