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Twenty Glass Shattering Years

Goldrausch's program for female artists goes beyond traditional art education, opening Berlin's art scene to women from all over the world.

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Photo by Janina Gallert

It takes more than a thumb-holed palette and fresh brushes to make it in the art world. Lessons in website development and marketing plans are as essential as color theory and line-drawing to being a professional artist. That’s where Goldrausch, a program for female artists, comes in. As the annual program of 15 international artists opened Glass Crash Feeling, the group exhibition to celebrate the end of its 20th year, we met with the program’s directors, Birgit Effinger and Hannah Kruse, and participants past and present.

An all-female jury of art professionals selected this year’s class, with artists from Chile to Marseille, aged 28 to 46. The diversity is shown in the artworks on display at the exhibition. Michelle-Marie Letelier’s graphite and coal compositions on treated canvas based on satellite imagery of open-pit mining are immense and beautiful.

British-born photographer Elly Clarke tracked-down the portraits painted by her great-great-great grandfather George Richmond, chronicling the journey of these paintings through time. Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez creates forms from broken glass, pursuing a dialogue about error.

The international vibe is abundant, but the program focuses on Berlin. “Their chosen place is Berlin,” said Kruse. “The program is focused here – meeting gallerists, curators, learning to discuss their work, to represent themselves confidently.”

“We’re here to ask the right questions at the right time, which is sometimes not so easy,” added Effinger. What are those questions? Effinger explains: “How do you expect to survive in the ever-expanding art world?”

Nadine Rennert has survived. A member of the inaugural Goldrausch class in 1989, she had studied with the first and only female art professor in Berlin. “There was only one art, one way, back then. It’s impossible to imagine.” The program opened up the art world for her and her large paper-mâché sculptures. “It was very good for me to have the opportunity to exchange with them, to become professional colleagues.”

Rennert continues to work in Berlin, showing her work from Shanghai to Copenhagen. Not everyone from the first program is still actively pursuing careers as a self-standing artist. “It’s difficult to be self-employed. Goldrausch helped me navigate things like health insurance. It was a process of professionalizing.”

Part of that learning process now includes creating websites, publishing catalogues and networking. This year, for the first time, the exhibition is not being shown at a public space. Previously housed at Bethanien Kunstraum in Kreuzberg, this year two commercial galleries, Barabara Thumm Schaulager and September, have helped raise the professional profile of the show.

This exhibition is about the next generation of contemporary art. “This exhibition is a mirror image of the up and coming in contemporary art,” Effinger said. “It’s not so much about relationships – what are relationships, really? It’s about raising issues, asking questions.” And cementing the role of women in the art world.

Germaine Greer, the feminist philosopher, decrying the male-dominated world, once said, “The opposite of patriarchy is not matriarchy but fraternity. And I think it is women who are going to have to show that.” The women at Goldrausch have been showing that, every year, for 20 years.

Glass Crash Feeling | Galerie Barbara Thumm Schaulager, Markgrafenstraße 68, U-Bahn Kochstraße. September, Charlottenstraße 1, U-Bahn Kochstraße, Tue-Sat 12-18. Through December 18.