Talks and panel discussions are to the art world what jewels were to Elizabeth Taylor: a defining although sometimes excessive enhancer to its complexity. No contemporary art-related event that thinks of itself seriously happens without some kind of discussion format. Fairs and biennials have increasingly put a lot of effort into organizing such programs; they are efficient tools to explore new perspectives and sometimes, even better triggers for acute FOMO (Have you never felt terrible when someone told you something along the lines of “What? You didn’t attend that talk on post-occupy strategies to resist power structures with HUO and the CEO of Zalando??”).
Aside from such official events, one can’t deny that many interesting discourses are born casually during exhibition openings (aside from the superficial chit chat about the latest superfood craze). It therefore makes sense that a group of younger gallerists have joined forces to launch Good to Talk, a 46-hour long marathon of talks, lectures, and panel discussions, rounded off by the occasional live performance and musical intermezzo. Taking place from 8. to 10. September at Berghain Kantine, the event brings together protagonists of the art world with scientists, historians, and various scholars.
Good to Talk’s aim is to break open the sometimes crusted cocoon in which the art world unfolds and therefore produce fresh food for the minds of audience and participants alike.
Topics and formats explored during the event are manifold. There are classical discussions, such as the one between artist (and Manifesta curator) Christian Jankowski and gallerist Alfons Klosterfelde (Sun, 10. Sept, 10:00-11:00). Both are rather untraditional figures of the Berlin art scene, and both enjoy puzzling their public with different strategies, for example by having a pretty major retrospective curated by a mainstream cinema actress. For those who enjoy more body contact but don’t feel like visiting Berghain’s darkroom, Helga Wretman performs her Anti Depressive Massage for Artists (Sun, 10. Sept, 04:30 – 05:00). As stated by the performance’s title, the Swedish artist invites colleagues to a session of kneading and squeezing, which she plans to perform while encouraging them to reflect upon their conception of art and life.
In a more serious but no less interesting genre, Marion Böker, Eva Wenzel, Alice Creischer, Jennifer Allen, Henrike Naumann, and Britta Thie discuss the conception of an ambitious, multilayered, trans-disciplinary project linking fashion with the long-ignored inequalities faced by female divorcees from the former GDR (Sat, 9. Sept, 01:30 – 02:45). This exciting panel has the potential to shed light on a rather urgent topic few know about. Another cross-disciplinary approach will be the one intended by Daniel Hug, Director of Art Cologne and art berlin, and Benita von Maltzahn, Head of Cultural and Social Engagement of Volkswagen Group. The two exchange on the convergences between art and automobile fairs, which are numerous. Plus, bringing the car topic into the picture might be much appreciated by the autochthonous members of the audience, given its current relevance (Hello, Diesel motors) and its general importance in Germany’s postwar identity (Sun, 10. Sept, 18:45 – 19:30).
For millennials and those identifying as such, we suggest the amusingly titled lecture The Unmanageable Self – Reading the Female Avatar by cultural theorist Diana Weis (Sat, 9. Sept,14:30 – 15:30). She plans to speak about some of the issues brought up by the collision between hyper-liberalism and digitality. Are the tools offered by digital devices more efficient than the ones used by the cosmetic industry when it comes to adapt, change and perform the self? Are they an alternative to traditional strategies of self-representation or just an additional burden? Weis will probably be able to answer that better than us. And then, for those interested in the historical aspect of Berlin party culture, Bar Larry’s Rebecca Brodsky, Dandy Diary’s Carl Jakob Haupt, and film director Tom Tykwer examine the 1920s roots and consequent development of the unique spirit still defining the city’s night life. When else could take that place than in the middle of the night (Sun, 10. Sept, 02:15 – 03:15).
While we’ve mentioned only a selection of talks, we think all interventions are worth attending (for the full program check their website). Don’t be frightened by the event’s duration: with the whole thing taking place next to Berghain, you can just hop over and have a quick dance (or else) before returning to the event, should you be in the mood for a different kind of fun.
– Karim Crippa