HAPPENINGText: Kiyohide Hayashi

Which season comes to mind when you hear the phrase “season of art?” Many people will think of fall from the phrase “autumn of the arts.” However, in Berlin people can enjoy art, not only in the fall, but also in the spring thanks to an event called Gallery Weekend held between late April and early May. During this time, many galleries hold the opening nights for their exhibits together as well various events in relation to the event. This event provides a good viewpoint into the state of the Berlin art scene. The following is a report of “Gallery Weekend.”

Galerie Neu

Gallery Weekend was held for three days from Friday, May 2nd until Sunday, the 4th in 2014. This event has already become essential to the Berlin art scene, yet surprisingly, its history is fairly young. The event first happened in 2005 and 2014 was its 10th year. Twenty galleries participated in the first year with increasing participation as the years have gone by. Currently, fifty galleries participate, more than double the amount from the first year. Since the majority of participating galleries are elite galleries active4 in international art fairs, the quality of exhibits on display is very high.

NEGATIVE PLATE (MOULES FRITES), 2014, China plates, polyester resin, polyurethane lacquer, silicone, mussels shells, 30 x 30 x 11 cm

Though Gallery Weekend is held only for just one weekend, the exhibits that open then are held over even after the weekend. Because of that fact, some people may wonder why this event so important. One possible answer could be the luxury of being able to visit many exhibits in such a short time. Since the exhibits are held around the same time, closing galleries due to changing exhibits could be avoided. Also, so many opening receptions happen that the atmosphere of the scene is fancier than usual. Many people from inside and outside of Germany visit, so the galleries put a little extra effort into their exhibits. With this partial reason, people can enjoy important exhibits in such short time.

Wolfgang Laib, Ailleurs – La chambre des certitudes, 1997, beeswax, wood Inner dimensions: 324 x 78-120 x 485 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Buchmann Galerie Berlin, Photo: Roman März

Among the highlights of Gallery Weekend were exhibits from artists who are active internationally. One example was Buchmann Galerie ‘s exhibit of Wolfgang Laib , who is known for using natural materials, such as bees, rice and milk in his art. This time around his focus was on using bees. A long thin white structure, simple, with no particular characteristics, was set up inside of the gallery with an entrance allowing people to go inside. Once inside, the strong smell of bees reveals what this structure is made out of. Laib’s exhibit boasted a strong use of natural materials.

Peter Fischli / David Weiss, Eine Ansammlung von Gegenständen, 1982-2013, Polyurethan, painted, Dimensions variable, installation view, ‘Eine Ansammlung von Gegenständen’, Peter Fischli David, Weiss, Sprüth Magers Berlin, May 2 – August 30, 2014, © Peter Fischli / David Weiss, Courtesy of Sprüth Magers Berlin London

The exhibit by Peter Fischli and David Weiss at Sprüth Magers also attracted many people. These internationally active artists created an amazing exhibit to support their fame. They set up a room with no entrance at the gallery, with pieces of wood, car tires, chairs and other items visible inside of the room. While all of the items on display looked real, they were imitations made out of polyurethane. In opposition to the technique called “ready-made” where ready-made goods are made to look like pieces of art, here all items in the room were hand-madeto look like ready-made goods. With the practical application of technique from art history, their art turned out to be very humorous, but at the same time prompted the question of what their artwork even was.

UNTITLED (HOW DOES IT FEEL), 2014, 2014, Full HD Video, colour, sound, 8:20 min, loop, format variable

While people many artists with international notoriety were showing their work, many talented young artists were also visible. One of the more memorable works was by Simon Dybbroe Møller at Galerie Kamm, who contributed an installation that included video work. The video showed scenes of people taking pictures of food using different equipment and processing the pictures on their computers. Through this footage, the work showed how unrealistic pictures of food were in advertisements compared to reality. At the same time, inedible food samples were in the display in the room questioning what was actually real. This installation was very provocative.

Galerie Neu

Not only does it encourage artists to put their best foot forward, but Gallery Weekend also exposes the best characteristics of local galleries. Galerie Noe is a good example that proves the point. This gallery just recently moved in preparation for their 20th anniversary celebration. Along with this event, the gallery introduced its new exhibit space to the public. Currently, there many galleries are located around the Potsdamer Street neighborhood, but, contrary to this trend, Galerie Noe relocated to the Mitte district. By being against to art scene trends, their uniqueness shined.

Gallery Weekend provided an opportunity to recognize important artists, artists on the rise, and the visions of the galleries. However, this is not limited to the fifty participating galleries. Those galleries who could not officially participate in the event still organized exhibits and events to attract visitors during the Gallery Weekend event. As a result, Berlin overflowed with a variety of art exhibits showcasing their art scene for three days over the weekend. This is Berlin’s “Spring of art.” Gallery Weekend is now a must-see event if you want to understand the art scene in Berlin.

Gallery Weekend
Date: May 2nd – 4th, 2014
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 19:00 (May 2nd, 18:00 – 21:00)
Place: Galleries in Berlin

Text: Kiyohide Hayashi
Translation: Yumico Miyagawa

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