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What to see in 2023: The most exciting shows of the coming year

Queer collectives, anti-colonial art and the best artists to watch from Berlin. There's lots of great shows to look forward to in 2023, here are our critics' top picks.

General Idea retrospective

It’s hard to fathom the impact General Idea, a collective of three Canadian artists, had on the art scene and the wider world in the 1980s. With equal parts humour and urgency, Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson (active from 1967 to 1994) challenged the booming art market with their explicit queer politics. Reconfiguring Robert Indiana’s ‘LOVE’ to read ‘AIDS’, they encapsulated their vision of the ‘image as virus’ and highlighted the horror of a disease that would claim the lives of both Partz and Zontal. Organised in close collaboration with Bronson, the exhibition is being touted as the most comprehensive retrospective ever made on the trio.

  • Gropius Bau, Niederkirchnerstr. 7, Kreuzberg, starts 22 Sep 2023, more information here.

Colonial dream

Zineb Sedira, Dreams Have No Titles, Venice Biennial 2022, Set design Le Bal with dancers, opening week. Photo by Zineb Sedira

Zineb Sedira’s project at the 2022 Venice Biennale’s French pavilion had queues stretching around the Giardini. Now, the new directors of the Hamburger Bahnhof have lured the immersive project to Berlin. It merges details from the Franco-Algerian artist’s life with fictional elements to create a dreamlike environment, critiquing colonial legacies and discrimination through the spirit of early Algerian political activism. By addressing universal themes of identity and collective tolerance, this show speaks of the wondrous, liberating power of art.

  • Hamburger Bahnhof, Invalidenstr. 50-51, Mitte, starts Feb 24, 2023, more information here.

Berlin artists to watch

Leda Bourgogne’s work burrows inside and tugs at your heartstrings. This, in part, is because there’s something so bodily about it – like putting a camera down your throat and seeing what’s inside. And if that sounds gruesome, it’s not: it’s sensual and sexy, romantic even. Ranging from fabric pieces to paintings, sculptures and installations, Bourgogne’s delicate interventions are reminiscent of translucent skin or soft membranes, pierced by needle and thread, evoking the body’s relationship to love and suffering. After her standout exhibition at FRAGILE in 2022, the thirty-something is one to watch in 2023, with an upcoming show at BQ Berlin.

  • Read about Bourgogne’s 2022 exhibition at FRAGILE here.

90 year old Ruth gets her moment

Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt. Photo: IMAGO / Matthias Reichelt

An upcoming retrospective at the newly opened Das Minsk in Potsdam will cover the extraordinary life of the GDR artist and poet Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt. Working in an office, she secretly produced typewritten mail art to engage with artists around the world in defiance of the strict laws then in place about communicating with Western and international art community. Having just won the Hannah Höch Prize 2022, the nonagenarian is having a bit of a moment. It begs the question: Why did it take the world so long to catch on? 

  • Das Minsk, Max-Planck-Str. 17, Potsdam, from Feb 11–May 7, 2023, visit Das Minsk’s website here.

The female renaissance

‘Muse or Maestra? Women in the Italian Art World 1400–1800’ sheds light on the diverse, active – and mostly forgotten – roles played by a whole host of women artists in Italy over four centuries. A rich array of drawings and prints from the collection of the Kupferstichkabinett will be accompanied by a number of impressive loans, making this a canonical show not to be missed.

  • Kupferstichkabinett, Gemäldegalerie, Matthäikirchplatz, Tiergarten, from Mar 8–Jun 4, 2023, read about the exhibition here.