From a New Mythological Play Using A.I. to Edvard Munch’s Berlin Story, Here Are 14 Shows Not to Miss During Berlin Art Week

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The annual Berlin Art Week is launching this week, running from September 12 through 16, which means that across town there are more cultural events and art openings than one could ever hope to attend.

The Berlin art scene feels more vibrant than ever, with new directors warmed up at most of the city’s major institutions, from the Haus am Waldsee, where Nina Beier and Bob Kil will have performances, to guided tours of the newly hung collection at the Hamburger Bahnhof. There are also some entirely new spaces like the private photo-focused museum Fotografiska, which will open its doors on Thursday after a multi-year renovation of a historic Berlin arcade. As always, Berlin’s gallery scene is showing a diverse array of solo exhibitions, from Paul McCarthy at Max Hetzler to Jeremy Deller at Meyer Riegger.

We’ve selected a few of the buzziest shows, performances, and exhibitions that you won’t want to miss.

 

Perform! at Neue Nationalgalerie

The Neue Nationalgalerie will host another edition of Perform!, a performance festival that debuted last year by activating different parts of the museum. Emerging talent Göksu Kunak is on the roster, presenting their new site-specific production “VENUS” on the terrace. A group of Berlin-based artists will perform Yoko Ono’s 1964 performance , one of Ono’s earliest performance works where the artist sat and allowed the audience to take turns cutting off small pieces of her clothing with scissors.

In and around the museum all week, there will be food, readings and interventions, and there is even yoga planned, as part of the Berlin Art Week garden program. Double bonus: Isa Genzken’s exhibition is on view inside the museum, in case you have yet to visit it.

 

Marianna Simnett, presented by LAS Art Foundation, at the HAU

Marianna Simnett, GORGON (2023), live performance (still from video used to train AI model). Commissioned by LAS Art Foundation. Courtesy the artist, LAS Art Foundation, and Société, Berlin.

The Greek mythological creature of the Gorgon is a monstrous female with animalistic features; it also serves as the title and central motif in Berlin-based artist Marianna Simnett‘s new play, which will premiere at the HAU, commissioned by LAS Art Foundation.

Simnett is known for writing, scoring, and directing surreal and unsettling films that often use animal figures and the human body as sites of conflict and transformation—she is now making a foray onto the stage. Simnett’s recent works have also been exploring A.I., and for the new play, she is working with technologist Moisés Horta Valenzuela to bring that component into the show.

 

Berlin Atonal’s “Universal Metabolism” at Kraftwerk

Credit: Mayra Wallraff

The sheer size and scale of the former Berlin central-heating power station, located in the heart of Kreuzberg, is hard to fully grasp, with a seemingly endless network of rooms and old turbine halls. It’s the location again for the annual Atonal, an experimental music festival that has developed an exhibition arm to accompany its music schedule; the curated show has drawn a lot of attention in its own right in recent years.

Called “Universal Metabolism,” it includes works by Billy Bultheel, Cyprien Gaillard, Mire Lee, Rabon Aibo, VALIE EXPORT, and Sonia Boyce. On the stages of Kraftwerk’s two night venues, the techno clubs Tresor and OHM, will be a packed program of music performances, some of which cross over with the artistic presentation.

 

Nora Turato at Sprüth Magers  

Nora Turato , (2023). © Nora Turato Courtesy the artist, LambdaLambdaLambda, Galerie Gregor Staiger and Sprüth Magers

There is an intriguing and beguiling ambivalence to the text-based works of Nora Turato, each of which distilled from the constant flow of words in everyday life. The detritus and ephemera of words cycling through the world online, in public and private forums, in advertisements, and in marketing, in news and hot takes, or just about anywhere else, become the material from which she works.

For her new show Sprüth Magers, her first with the gallery, she will present a series of enamel works and a mural that draws on early digital graphics; despite what first seems to be starkly minimalist, Turato’s works are the result of time-intensive, analog processes, with multiple layers of paint.

Turato will also be presenting new work at Performa in New York, which takes place November 1 through 19, 2023, and in a solo show at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, in 2024.

 

Gallery Weekend Festival at Studio Mondial

Kimsooja, Meta-Painting, (2020/2023), Installation view, Kewenig Palma 2020, © Kimsooja, VG Bild-Kunst, Courtesy KEWENIG Berlin, Photo: Bruno Daureo

After a few editions of splitting Gallery Weekend’s energy between April, where more established positions are presented, and September, a time for galleries to present more emerging positions, the stalwart Berlin gallery platform is trying something new. Gallery Weekend Festival is taking place for the first time this year at an old four-star hotel that is empty as it is being refurbished by an investor.

Hotel Mondial has some old West Berlin charm to it—and the festival sounds like a slightly more honed and curated response to Los Angeles’s Felix Art Fair. Spread throughout its old restaurant, parking garage, and foyer, (unlike at Felix, no hotels rooms will be used) will be readings, performances, including one by Karl Holmqvist, presented by Galerie Neu; as well as video works, including Pauline Curnier Jardin, presented by ChertLüdde, and Cemile Sahin, presented by Esther Schipper. Lap-See Lam, presented by Nordenhake will be among those presenting sculptural works on view, and Berlin-based artist Raul Walch will take over the building’s facade, presented by Galerie Eigen + Art.

 

Coco Fusco at KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Coco Fusco, The Eternal Night, 2022. Production still: Courtesy the artist

The solo exhibition of Coco Fusco, called “Tomorrow, I Will Become an Island,” is the first major retrospective of Cuban-American artist in Germany; the exhibition also marks her first dedicated monograph, both of which seem overdue given the significance of Fusco as an artist who is actively involved in debates and advocacy for in the realms of post-colonialism, feminism, and politics in Cuba.

The survey of work will span videos, photographs, texts, installations, as well as live performances that reach back to the 1990s and up to the present. One of her most acclaimed and radical pieces, , will be presented. The performance documentation dates from 1992 to 1994, when Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña staged a piece called , where they dressed like two “undiscovered Amerindians” and lived in a cage in public space. Fusco is developing a multimedia performance to accompany the show, which will be performed in early December 2023. She will also be having a conversation with dissident artist Hamlet Lavastida in December; Fusco wrote an article for Artnet News discussing with Lavastida his politically motivated arrest in Cuba and his release.

 

“The Assault of the Present on the Rest of Time” at Schinkel Pavillon

Eric Isenburger, Jula in Schweden, (1937).

Together with the Brücke Museum, Schinkel Pavillon’s new group exhibition spans nearly a hundred years of art, considering works and artists that have chronicled state violence and repression in and around war time. The show includes works dating to the 1930s and 1940s by artists like Felix Nussbaum and Käthe Kollwitz in dialogue with contemporary artists including Simone Fattal, Nora Turato, Sung Tieu, and Lawrence Abu Hamdan.

That there is an ongoing war in Europe will certainly serve as the psychological backdrop for this show, which is curated by Katya Inozemtseva, who was chief curator at Garage Museum in Moscow until she left Russia after the invasion in Ukraine began.

 

“Unbound: Performance as Rupture” at Julia Stoschek Foundation

Pope.L, A.T.M. Piece, (1997). Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell Innes & Nash, New York.

Since the video camera became a prevalent, artists have been incorporating it in performance art—either as collaborative tool or a means of documenting and recording the otherwise ephemeral art form.

With works by artists including Pope L., Julien Creuzet, P. Staff, and Pipilotti Rist, “Unbound: Performance as Rupture” focuses on video art that breaks through oppressive ideology and history, with an intergenerational selection of thirty-six artists who explore how the body interacts with and refuses the camera’s colonial and violent gaze.

 

Penny Goring at Galerie Molitor

Penny Goring Royal Blue Forever Doll, (2023).

 

Almost exactly a year after the closing of the ICA’s “Penny World,” a 30-year survey show in London dedicated to Penny Goring, attention on the U.K. artist has grown tremendously; this September, Goring receives her first solo show in Berlin, at Galerie Molitor, one of the German capital’s new galleries.

Goring’s work oscillates between emotional states with a disarming candor: there are experiences of grief, fear, loss, panic, and anxiety coursing through her small acrylic paintings and drawings, as well as her doll-like soft sculptures, which are sites for fragments of her hand-stitched poems. Often made with modest household means, Goring’s highly personal oeuvre transcends through bare honesty into the universal.

 

“Edward Munch: Magic of the North” at Berlinische Galerie

Edvard Munch, The Hearse on Potsdamer Platz, (1902) Photo: © MUNCH, Oslo / Sidsel de Jong

Though the painter Edvard Munch is certainly the star of Norwegian art history, his story crosses over with that of Berlin. The Norwegian Symbolist was a key figure of the vibrant young art scene at the turn of the century in the German capital, before the war disintegrated it and Munch landed on the list of “degenerate” artists.

The new exhibition, called “Magic of the North,” which has been organized with the recently opened MUNCH museum in Oslo, chronicles the artist’s Berlin story, including documentation of Munch in his apartment and studio, as well as parts of acclaimed the Reinhardt and Linde frieze that he painted for a theater in the capital—the works left the country once war began to tear the city apart.

 

Mimosa Echard at Heidi

Mimosa Echard, Private picture (what’s in your bag), (2023). Courtesy to the artist and Heidi, Berlin

The Paris-based artist Mimosa Echard, who is known for her delicate and clever works that mix collected natural and synthetic materials and ephemera, was last year’s winner of the prestigious Marcel Duchamp prize in France. She is having her first solo show in Berlin at Heidi, which opened in 2021 and has been putting forward an engaging program since.

The artist outlined her fascination with ambiguity and transformation in her work in a recent interview. “I like objects that create doubt,” she said. “In reality, they are fairly stable, but the transition through a moment of liquidity generates this vibrant, living sensation.” Echard is known for a poetic use of materials that is uncanny, but somehow harmonious in Echard’s careful layering: a poetic use of cosmetics, medicinal plants, bits of electronics, cherry pits, lichen, and snail shells, all coalesce on her canvases.

Hallen 4

John Armleder Flash, Flash, Flash, (2004). Installation view Hallen 4, 2023. Courtesy: Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin and John Armleder, Geneva. Photo: Hallen 4, 2023

Dealers, including Klemm’s, PSM, Mehdi Chouakri, Esther Schipper, and as well as out-of-town visiting gallerists Sies + Höke, Jan Kaps, and Max Meyer, are presenting large-scale works in the airy industrial halls of Willhelm Hallen. The Berlinische Gallery, as well as curators and collectors are also presenting artworks.

 

The reopening of ngbk

Artists of House of Kal Karachi at a workshop with Karachi LaJamia (Karachi Anti-
University), 2021. Image courtesy Fiza Khatri

It is no secret to say that the city’s art scene is suffering from rampant real estate speculation in Berlin, which has out-priced many artists from their studios (and homes), as well as more than a few spaces. One of them is the institution ngbk, also known as the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, which had its home in Kreuzberg for decades before it was pushed out by landlords.

After floating for a year, the nonprofit has settled at Alexanderplatz, in a former McDonald’s branch in a 1970s building that was erected in East Berlin. It will be a silver lining to get to see nbgk grow and flourish in this new space, even though the decision to move came from such unfortunate circumstances; their opening show, called House of Kal, includes a series of community-focused radio broadcasts and workshops, as well as music, films, performances. With a central kiosk serving drinks and snacks as a meeting site for active discussion, the exhibition focuses on post-/migrant alliances between South Asia and Europe.

 

David Douard at Konrad Fischer Galerie

David Douard UN’FOLD (2023). Courtesy the artist and Konrad Fischer Galerie

David Douard’s sculptures and artworks deal with aspects of high- and low-tech culture and how these facets interplay with the reality human body, and he is among an establishing set of artists who have for nearly a decade been questioning the effects of the digital sphere on human life, intelligently contrasting nature and artifice.

With “ACHéTE LE NACRé à LEURS âMES”, the French-born artist is having first presentation at Konrad Fischer, where he is newly represented.

 

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