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Fresh air at KW

Kunst Werke Institute for Contemporary Art welcomes new head curator Ellen Blumenstein with a grand "Relaunch", restoring the humanness of the earlier eras of KW. Check out the breath of fresh air on display now through Aug 25.

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Photo by Jarka Snajberk

Kunst Werke Institute for Contemporary Art welcomes new head curator Ellen Blumenstein with a grand “Relaunch”.

While previous curators have cemented KW’s position as a thriving, internationally acclaimed institution, the lack of personal perspective has inevitably watered down the humanness that made this place so special in its early years. Enter Blumenstein, whose emotional, challenging and strongly honest angle seems to breathe life into all of her projects. Last month, KW marked Blumenstein’s arrival with the ongoing project series Relaunch, toying with the inevitable changes that come to an institution through administrative transition.

Relaunch for me is the possibility to step back and look at the institution’s history, present and possible future before we all drown in business as usual,” Blumenstein says. Working with a large group of artists, she visually translates her upcoming plans. Highlights include Bulgarian artist Nedko Solakov’s labelling throughout the house with permanent black marker, literally noting comments from Blumenstein about various facets of the spaces.

The second exhibition on view is REPAIR. 5 ACTS by Kader Attia, featuring site-specific installations broken into five ‘acts’, exploring the conceptual idea of repair in the sense of political, cultural and scientific topics and their various interactions.

Although she has been working internationally in the last years, Blumenstein is not new to Berlin, nor to KW. After studying in Hamburg, she moved to Berlin in 1998 to assist KW’s founder Klaus Biesenbach. “We worked closely together for several years. But in the last years, I was away a lot… so I’d say I know the KW and its history extremely well, but I have a fresh, distant look on it, too.”

Her exhibition Regarding Terror, co-curated at KW with Biesenbach and Felix Ensslin in 2005, bravely examined the public perception of the RAF terrorist group, resulting in major controversy when relatives of the victims took their objections straight to then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

Currently, she is known for Berlin initiatives such as the curatorial collective The Office and the project space Salon Populaire, which will continue parallel to and sometimes even in collaboration with KW.

Blumenstein’s aim is to support KW’s role as a platform to support the visibility of artistic production, fostering a place where important questions and topics of today can be dealt with. She’s fascinated with the normalisation of ideas. “A curator should be aware of and test the conventions of exhibition making constantly: What is the relation between the curator and her institution, the artist, the space, the audience?” Her arrival at KW will usher in a new era of art presentation that will hopefully play out over the rest of the Berlin art landscape. It is really going to be awesome to watch.

RELAUNCH Apr 28-Aug 25 | KW