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  • INTERVIEW: The three faces of Preview Berlin


INTERVIEW: The three faces of Preview Berlin

The directors of the art fair that really captures what Berlin is about, Preview Berlin, sat down with us for a chat about how they keep it so fresh!

Image for INTERVIEW: The three faces of Preview Berlin
Photo by Sam Williams

We spoke to Preview Berlin’s directors: gallerists Kristian Jarmuschek (Jarmuschek & Partner) and Rüdiger Lange (Loop Raum für Aktuelle Kunst), and artist Ralf Schmitt, whose Myvisit.to project “curates” visits.

What makes Preview different?

Rüdiger Lange: Well, we call it the “emerging art fair”, and it’s not just the artists who are emerging: it’s the type of artwork, and the fair itself. So we wanted to construct a format that reflects that – that isn’t fixed, that develops. Often the kinds of work dictate the type of show we run. So, for example, last year’s fair only featured installations, sculptures and video works. [This inspired 2009’s “no walls, no booth” concept.]

But we also want to do it without investing too much money.These are emerging galleries, and these days, people are asking themselves if it’s necessary to take part in art fairs at all. There has been this redundancy, first of biennales and then of art fairs – it’s good marketing for the city.

Everything is developing; standards are shifting. What we’ve been trying to do is to reflect about the production process and the changing ways in which artists are working, and also about publicity, which is often incorporated into the work. The idea is to create a curated show that presents the works to collectors in a kind of context.

Why did you decide to start the fair?

RL: The art fair structure in Berlin was limited at the time [2005]. Art Forum only invited galleries that were older than five years. We felt closer to emerging art, and we wanted to create a platform for it.

Kristian Jarmuschek: I was a young gallerist. I applied twice to Art Forum, and both times, the director said, “Sorry, there’s just no space.”

Also, at that time there was this Produzentengalerie phenomenon [artists’ cooperative galleries] and we wanted to give those guys a chance to show their work, as well. It was a big Berlin thing a few years ago – groups of maybe 10 artists would get together and hire a gallerist, but they couldn’t show at traditional art fairs.

What’s your background?

RL: I’m a gallerist and curator. I began working in the institutional sector – with the DAAD, for 10 years – and supporting artists they invited. So I got to know a lot of artists and started an independent art project: in 1997, I set up Loop Raum für aktuelle Kunst on Schlegelstraße in Mitte.

I then took a break to curate the sculpture show Berlin_London [2001] for the ICA in London, then I moved on to Kreuzberg in 2002. We had a huge space with music, a club, a lounge and art projects. At that time, Kreuzberg was really quiet: there was nothing there.

Ralf Schmitt: I’m an artist. I did a project called Förderkoje, which is a German word for “booth” – like in an art fair, but also a berth like you have in a ship. The idea came from a project I did in the mid-1990s using Hamburger Bahnhof’s construction site as a studio. After that, I started wondering… so much effort goes into getting works into a museum. But how do you get art out of the museum? So I decided to set up a two-metre-wide public space in my house on Schiffbauerdamm – a combination of living and exhibiting. Gallery hoppers came: they usually ended up at the kitchen table with my wife and I.

In a way, Preview is a natural extension of that project. It’s important to think about new models of production, participation and education, and the way we understand art and publicity. Can these things be part of the artwork? So Preview is part of my artistic practice.

Why the changing format?

RL: If you always repeat the same, standard format, you lose a connection with the art fair’s actual production. But if you pay attention to the format, you can bring out new aspects, and really challenge and surprise people. You can get results you’d never get otherwise.

GIVEAWAY!!! We’re giving away 15 pairs of passes to be used on any one day (October 8 through 10). Write an email to [email protected] for your chance to win. Please put “Preview” in the subject line of the email and make sure to send by Friday, October 8, 9:00.