KW Institute for Contemporary Art curator Anna Gritz on finding fresh voices from older generations, their upcoming Schering Art Award show and why London feels much smaller than Berlin.
German-born Anna Gritz made her name as a curator for film and performance at the South London Gallery. In 2016 she joined Augustraße’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art and has worked on shows including Paul Elliman, Nicholas Mangan and last year’s fabulous off-site Lyn Hershman Leeson exhibition. We speak to her as she gears up for the opening of Schering Stiftung Art Award winner Anna Daučíková’s show.
What prompted you to leave London for Berlin and join KW?
My main reason to move was not my career but love! I was here for a couple of months and curated a show at the Schinkel Pavillion before KW’s Director Krist Gruijthuijsen hired me. I think it’s the most interesting institution in Berlin for contemporary art, and the team is great. We agree that what the city needs is a place with contemporary relevance – and that doesn’t always mean showing young artists. KW gives us the opportunity to work with the very contemporary, but also reach back into older work.
Does this feed into what you’re working on now?
Yes, I’m currently working on a show called The Making of Husbands that will open in September. It will look at the work of Chicago Imagist Christina Ramberg from the 1980s. She’s already deceased but I think her work is very relevant to artists now so I’m trying to put it into conversation with younger artists. I’m going to show a selection of her paintings as a small monographic core exhibition within a group show that’s built around her approach. There aren’t many institutions where you can look at the historical and the contemporary together.
You’ve also been preparing a show of Anna Daučíková’s work, an artist in her sixties.
Yes, she is a good example of what I mean by artists of a slightly older generation. My colleague Cathrin Mayer and I have been working on the Schering Stiftung Art Award that’s opening at KW this month. It’s a prize that tries to find an artist that is very relevant in the moment and the jury was unanimous that Daučíková’s was the most urgent position to show. She won a small monetary prize, a show at KW and a publication. She will also be exhibiting a newly commissioned film paired with new works in glass. She speaks a lot about gender, about being between genders, and explores this in architecture, design and crafts.
Why do you think KW works so well in a city like Berlin?
Berlin is so full of artists but strangely does not have that many art institutions. KW has had highs and lows in its past, but it’s quite unique in its history. It almost grew up alongside the city. I wasn’t there when it was first established, but I know it was founded out of a collective of artists and curators and started as very makeshift and improvised in an abandoned factory building just after reunification. It has now become professionalised and I think this journey is similar to what Berlin faces. And it’s nice to be in an institution that reflects the city in that way.
How does Berlin’s art scene compare to London’s?
London feels really small now compared to Berlin, which is idiosyncratic because of course London is a much bigger city. But it has less artists, or at least it feels like that and it’s a more homogeneous scene. At openings I would always see the same people, whether it was at Tate or a small non-profit. In Berlin there are lots of different art scenes. They’re a lot more fractured and don’t overlap so much.
What are your favourite art spaces to visit in Berlin?
I like going to spaces like Beach Office, Stadium, Liszt and Schiefe Zähne. Also the HKW, Wolfgang Tillmanns’ Between Bridges and of course KW and the Pogo Bar there. A new space to watch is the E-Werk in Luckenwalde, on whose board I am serving and for which I have high expectations. And a Berlin landmark I love is the Kreuzberg Tower by John Hejduk, a place I am fascinated with since I worked with Judith Hopf on her exhibition at KW and her commission for the KW facade that is a homage to Hejduk.
Schering Stiftung Art Award 2018: Anna Daučíková Jun 7-Aug 18 KW Institute, Mitte