It’s Berlin Art Week again, and with our city’s annual art fête re-emerges the perpetual question: what’s worth seeing?
While the direct formulation of this enquiry remains shrouded, with the ‘official’ program and the ‘official’ fairs, and while this directive does help the visitor maintain a kind of overview in order ‘not to miss anything’, sadly, the opposite is often the case.
Year after year the question arises, ad nauseam, of why this official program should be seen as the only ‘true’ art venues and the only art worth seeing: what horrible outcome would occur if a collector or art-enthusiast dares to veer off course; and why is Berlin’s now-oldest art fair, Berliner Liste, always excluded?
Combining single-artist and gallery booths in what could be seen as the most traditional format of art presentation, the fair single-handedly paints the most complete picture of Stadtbild or ‘Image of the City’ – our city, moving into a brave new world of the cutting edge and emerging art, while keeping in mind our city’s art traditions. Highlights like MÔWN (Movies on my own) – a selection of video art shown in the very old, star-treky control room of the former East German electrical Kraftwerk, Carola Engels massive steel sculptural objects screaming corporate art aesthetic, and Liste founder Wolfram Völker’s annual selection of interesting discoveries, our personal favourite remains Suet Yi Chan’s quietly powerful painting work, hailing from Hong Kong.
Inevitably, the more time one spends with art work the more sophisticated the eyes and personal taste become, but one must not forget the need to be open to new things and the eminent potential of being surprised. Berliner Liste is in fact, the largest art fair during art week, offering a massive amount of art and artists to be discovered, in a massive space with lots of nooks and crannies. For the third year, a large and impressive section focusing on contemporary photography is offered; and, starting this year, there’s a special focus on Asian contemporary art being developed. What distinguishes this fair is the diversity of the art shown; and the continued collaboration with curator Peter Funken not only successfully maintains a leitmotiv for the art, but it keeps the Liste’s presentation-footing true to the unique aesthetics of both local Berlin, German, and international art.
Dubbed ‘the discovery art fair’, the monochre isn’t some kind of excuse of why the fair counts – it’s the organizer’s mission statement and a much-needed argument for some of the necessary aspects missing from the other fairs and exhibitions. Clearly stated, Berliner Liste and the other fairs shouldn’t be compared in any kind of competitive light. They are simply different ‘animals’ in Berlin’s art zoo. What makes the Liste different (and not necessarily ‘better’ or ‘worse’) is that the focus isn’t on big art world names, or established galleries, but rather on the essence of art. It strives to give the visitor the option to decide for themselves, through a myriad of examples (both good and bad), what is in fact ‘art’, and further – what is good art. Discovery truly is the name of the game.
Berliner Liste | Kraftwerk Berlin, Köpenicker Straße 70, Mitte, U-Bhf Heinrich-Heine-Strasse. Thu-Sat 13-21, Sun 11-19 Sept 16-20 | Day Ticket €13 incl. catalog, reduced €9