The art world shuts down in August, a time to cross the blurry boundary between professional (art) life into personal (art) life. We jump out of our bathing suit directly back to work in the newest fall fashion for the big openings of jam-packed September. The center of the fifth Berlin Art Week is the carefully curated fair abc art berlin contemporary, smaller and more refined this year. Time to dive in and see gallery directors making a splash. This year several tropes emerge across our picks. First is the triumph of the post-medium condition where artists move away from medium specificity. The second is the central idea of immersive installations (often sculpture/video) with the return of narrative and the body.
Here are our ten humble picks:
Anne Imhof at Hamburger Bahnhof
Ever since Anne Imhof’s exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel we have been awaiting the second act of her three-part ‘opera,’ Angst II. She is the rare kind of artist that we revere. This past year she has moved from an emerging to one of the most talked about artists. As part of her award for the Preis der Nationalgalerie 2015, she presents this new work in the main hall of the Hamburger Bahnhof. A major challenge was to remain intimate in a massive empty space, which she brilliantly resolved by filling the hall with fog. The space has never looked so good.
Hamburger Bahnhof, Invalidenstraße 50/51, Mitte
Dena Yago at Sandy Brown
Fresh off presenting a strong position at the Hammer museum's “Made in L.A.” biennial, Dena Yago makes her appearance this autumn in Berlin. She is a much-needed voice of her generation and a founding member of the collective K-Hole. Yago’s practice is more poetic and nuanced, focusing on the way language and photography are nonequivalents – she picks up where older artists like Martha Rosler left off.
Sandy Brown, Goebenstrasse 7, Tiergarten
Mike Nelson at neugerriemschneider
In his second exhibition at the gallery, Mike Nelson mysteriously presents 30 years worth of his tools in an immersive installation. The exhibition titled “tools that see (the possessions of a thief) 1986-2005” alludes to Nelson’s previous site-specific project in an old music hall in Berlin-Mitte in 2012 called “space that saw (platform for a performance in two parts).” In a certain sense the exhibition is like a self-portrait, but since each tool is paired with a stool or bench, it also suggests the absent collective body.
neugerriemschneider, Linienstrasse 155, Mitte
Morag Keil at Eden Eden
Morag Keil works across painting, mixed-media, sculpture, film, and installation seamlessly. Her previous paintings resonate with the abstract bodily work of Warhol’s famous Piss Paintings, but her imagery is all the more relational – now her new video works touch on the cartoonification of the body. Her works reflect the ways the digital world has given rise to state power encroaching upon our personal rights.
Eden Eden, Bülowstrasse 74, Tiergarten
Cerith Wyn Evans at Galerie Neu
Cerith Wyn Evans' practice is expansive and immersive, but two motifs are consistent: light and text – with his signature white neon text and neon bulbs. Moving between silent thoughts with their critical meanings he challenges the viewers lived phenomenological experience and their own perceptions in the mind's eye. His installation sparks new potential meanings of poetic positions that are both contemplative and ecstatic.
Galerie Neu, Linienstrasse 119 ABC, Mitte
Bryan Morello at Neumeister Bar-Am
Like many American artists, Bryan Morello spent time as an expat in Berlin before returning to California. Now presenting his first solo exhibition outside of the US. His is the kind of work that needs to be seen in person. Central themes are body politics (dare we say identity politics) the sensual corporeal body in the face of constraints both social and physical.
Neumeister Bar-Am, Goethestrasse 2, Charlottenburg
Trisha Baga at Société
Trisha Baga is one of the most interesting artists of her generation, taking the moving image off the screen and into real space. Her current show “LOAF – A blurry eye exam or the sourdough hippocampus” made up of screens, ceramics, projections that reflect implied organic processes. The current multi-channel videos feature the artist speaking as the The Invisible Man using formal painterly elements. It is also one of the best press releases we have ever read, written by the equally compelling Helen Marten. You can read the whole poetic press release on our Exhibitionary app.
Société, Genthiner Strasse 36, Tiergarten
Sterling Ruby at Sprüth Magers
There is not much left to be said about one of the giants working in art today – he has even worked with Raf Simons his close friend to produce a fashion collection. German-born but LA-based Sterling Ruby is known for Americana references (abnormal psychology, urban ennui, graffiti, punk, violence, consumerism, and waste of the American dream) made every medium possible, especially epic painting and ceramic. This time he focuses on his mobiles, one single work makes up the whole exhibition. His previous shows have stopped us in our tracks, and we can’t wait for this sure to be talked about exhibition.
Sprüth Magers, Oranienburger Strasse 18, Mitte
Ugo Rondinone at Esther Schipper
We love Ugo Rondinone, his poetic solo exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo last year was a tender tribute to his longtime partner (the under visible) John Giorno, and it is positions like this that make Rondinone’s work bold, romantic, alive, and poetic. His fifth solo exhibition at the gallery, “two men contemplating the moon 1830” is his tribute to the influence German Romanticism on his work. Rondinone shows us the beauty in queering everyday moments and objects, windows, doors, brick walls, bulbs, trees that form a circular narrative like memory breaking open the linear time.
Esther Schipper, Schöneberger Ufer 65, Tiergarten
Laura Buckley at EIGEN + ART Lab
Presenting only a tight selection of works, the show features an immersive video/sculptural installation that consists of an intricate mirror/wood wall relief shaped like an exploding star. Onto the mirrored plane two projected videos are divided between 'attract' and 'repel' segment.
EIGEN + ART Lab, Torstrasse 220, Mitte
Besides Berlin Art Week we have exciting news! In collaboration with the New Art Dealers Alliance, we sponsored the first NADA x Exhibitionary International Gallery Prize. The prize is awarded to an international gallery exhibiting for the first time in the US. It is our pleasure to announce that Prague-based gallery SVIT has been selected by the award committee. We are very happy to support this prize as it brings visibility of critical art to a broader public which is one of the main missions of our app.
– Justin Polera