Berlin Art Week sets about making a big splash

28th August 2012

This September sees the launch of Berlin Art Week, a brand new addition to the cultural calendar, which is setting about becoming the highlight attraction during the autumn season.

Characteristic of this confidence is its punchy, eclectic and comprehensive composition, comprised as it is of Preview Berlin Art Fair, abc – Art Berlin Contemporary, and the city’s numerous influential contemporary museums and galleries, which includes Neue Gesellschaft fur Bildende Kunst, Akademie der Kunste, Berlinische Galerie and Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

The organisers of Berlin Art Week are keen to bring deserved global attention to the city’s importance in the world of contemporary art, and they certainly have the authority to do so. In Berlin, artists, galleries and various institutions are passionately supported, championed and encouraged in their endeavours, that they are enjoying a brilliant period of activity.

Sybille von Obernitz, senator for Economics, Technology, and Research – the event is supported by the Senate Chancellery for Economics and the Senate Chancellery for Cultural Affairs – said that Berlin Art Week is not just about showcasing talent in the country. It is, she noted, an appropriate response to the increasing competition that is emerging amongst the big names of art.

This is reflected in its unique set up, which is based on an open, centralised concept, fluid almost, where numerous participants are encouraged to deliver their own insights. The format exists in such a way that it can keep on growing, with innovation an intrinsic part of its framework.

While individuality is important for each and every artist and arts-based establishment in the city, the event offers them a group identity and a forum to interact in a way that was previously not possible. It’s a loud and poised declaration that will help score a new direction for the way art is presented in Berlin.

"We have agreed to focus on a single, concerted event for Berlin as an art city to make a strong statement," expanded Andre Schmitz, permanent secretary for Cultural Affairs.

"September’s Berlin Art Week can accentuate that we have all united our efforts in the interest of art to promote the attractiveness of Berlin as a centre for art and doing business."

The varied programme includes Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s exhibition Between Walls and Windows. Architektur und Ideologie; Berlinische Galerie’s group exhibition Manifesto Collage; and an urban policy panel discussion made up of artists and theorists from around the world.

One of the particular standout fairs has to be the Preview Berlin Art Fair, which in its eighth instalment is as ambitious as ever, growing in both physical scope and artistic invention.

Alone, the expo is made up of 57 international galleries, 11 project spaces and eight academies from 14 countries. This includes the gallery LEM-Art from Colombia and Terreno Baldio Arte from Mexico; the Program Art Gallery and Starter Gallery from Warsaw, Poland; and the Daire and Riff Art Projects from Turkey. As is reflected in the global arrangement of this fair, Berlin not only can deliver on art from its own borders, but that from abroad.

Other projects that have teasingly been announced with little detail, an insanely clever market ploy indeed, includes a discussion entitled 'The Soft Power of the Art Market'; the 'hijacking' of an art collection, and the collective Fame allegedly smashing a VW Golf 1 into the ASPN Gallery booth. Little can be derived from that other than this kind of contemporary art will astound, shock and surprise. Anticipation for these shows is naturally elevated.

Berlin Art Week unquestionably has the potential to be a groundbreaking event that sets the strong foundations needed for a long and healthy residency within this already busy and eclectic crowd of international shows.

Whatever happens subsequent of the inaugural event we can reflect on later, and thus, for now, we should keep to the present. It is always positive to see a concentrated commitment to the importance of art in an age where cutbacks are the norm. To add to something, well, that’s atypical, and so the Berlin Art Week is no small contribution.

The sheer size of it is testament to that. Additionally, the optimism is contagious, the determination laudable and the willingness to think outside the box mesmeric. Welcome Berlin Art Week; now show us what you’ve got.

Berlin Art Week takes place throughout the city from September 11th until September 16th.

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