Monday, September 28, 2009

A Quick Berlin Assessment

Bambino (in the photo to the right, waiting for the U-Bahn) is assembling an upcoming SEE and BE SEEN (or, if you will, SEHEN und GESEHEN WERDEN) with ample photos of our trip to Berlin, but I wanted to record a few of my initial impressions of the city and its art scene before the mountain of things on my to-do list makes me forget.

We were in Berlin for 6 days (two of which we were rather jet lagged), and I still feel as if we barely even scratched the surface in discovering the place. We sped through probably hundreds of U-bahn stations in total as we criss-crossed the city, rented bikes for one virtually perfect day of sight-seeing, took a boat ride up the rather crowded Spree, rode in dozens of taxis and buses, and walked untold miles upon miles, and yet never really felt we were rushing around. The pace of Berlin struck me as extremely pleasant and relaxed.

Our art viewing was kind of "Noah and the Ark" influenced: we visited two (2) of the art fairs in the city (Artforum Berlin, the main attraction, twice and Preview Berlin, seemingly the second place attraction [although it depended on who you asked] once); two of the main contemporary art museums (Deutsche Guggenheim and the Hamburger Bahnhof); two perhaps more edgy art exhibitions (Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin and Zweckgemeinschafft); two fantastic private collections (Sammlung Boros and Sammlung Hoffman); and, ok, so more than two galleries, but I could force them into categories of two if that long and growing to-do list wasn't stalking me.

For now I'll just offer a series of quick impressions to be fleshed out in more detail later:
  • The exhibition that left the biggest impression on me was the solo show by Ulrich Gebert at Klemm's in Brunnenstrasse.
  • The Berlin gallery program I was most impressed with was the very smart blending of historically important artists who really deserve another look with up and coming stars (and think this is something being also being done extremely well in New York by galleries such as Alexander Gray and Elizabeth Dee) at the very young (and off the beaten path) Exile.
  • The physical space I wish I had in New York (with a smart and exciting program to boot) is the former deli-type building that now houses Feinkost gallery.
  • Best booth at Artforum Berlin is a toughie. We really enjoyed the spirit of the installation at Spencer Brownstone's (and we're not playing New York favorites...it was the sort of risky statement I expected to see more of there, quite frankly, although the elegance of the installation at Neugerriemschneider's booth was breathtaking), and I can't get enough of the program or aesthetic at Mexico City's EDS gallery (and their Berlin booth was another knockout [full disclosure...we share an artist]).
  • Best installation at Preview Berlin is also a toss-up. Bambino really liked Michael Johansson's installation at Galerie Hartwich Rügen's space, while I was mesmerized by Stephanie Backes' nearly microscopic structures at loop – raum für aktuelle kunst.
OK, so the clock is ticking away and that list isn't doing itself. I'll write more on some of these issues in the days to come. In general, though, we really loved Berlin, we didn't get to see quite a few of the events we had been invited to, and so are already working on how and when we can go back.

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1 Comments:

Blogger joy said...

what a fanTASTic week! sounds like you guys definitely covered more ground than I did a few months back, and yet, I walked for six hours nearly every day, never a dull moment... hmmm... endless terrain to cover. Yes, we all must plot on how to get back there....

9/28/2009 02:46:00 PM  

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