Far North and near West

Berlin is an amazing city. Even after years of gallery scouting and involving yourself in the art scene, you always get around to new places by chance that kind of charme you in an instance. This week I had two of these encounters, which is much above average. Since the artistic scenes – if off or commercial, does not matter – have left their old quarters and begin to meander througout all of the city, even beyond the inner circle transportation system boundaries (which is quite new), there are no places without upstarting cultural centers. Lichtenberg for instance, a quarter with rather bad reputation for skinheads and such, has just gotten a big new venture, the old GDR „Fahrbereitschaft“, that is now housing the Haubrok Collection.

While the lamentation about ongoing gentrification is getting louder, Berlin still has more vast empty spaces that can be filled than any other european metropoly, though they are not as central, as they used to be. What is missing though – and I really wonder about that – is the occasional art buyer, the beginning collector, the well-to-do citizen who is actively supporting the cultural scene in his district. One has always hoped that this would emerge somewhere along the line (and it does happen from time to time, but very very scracely), to secure at least some of the project spaces and off galleries to survive, but the money is drawn to the already established, as it seems. So Berlin stays what it has been for the last twenty years: a big showroom with young art, experiments and a hole in the bankaccount.

My first discovery this week was the wonderfull „Centre Bagatelle„, a cultural house in the very north district of Frohnau, where i have never been before. Housed in classical villa built in the 1920s, the Centre Bagatelle really has a history. First home to an industrial, later occupied by the nazis, after the war a casino for french officers, turning into a french cultural space with library and such, gien back to the district in 1993, when most of the french army left Berlin, afterwards run as a cultural space for some years, then nearly sold but saved by a number of involved citizens who now run the house as an association, making exhibitions, concerts and offering courses of all kind (Yoga to french language) to the public. Me going there was a lucky coincidence. I was to held a speech at the recent opening of Johanna Silbermanns exhibition opening „Das Dach voller Gedanken II“ (The roof full of thoughts part 2) on the 28th.

The exhibition is the second because of her recent scholarship by the Bösenberg foundation, that enabled her to work for one year with a monthly stipend in the small village of Meinersen, somewhere near Wolfsburg. After showing the works executed during the year in Meinersen, Berliners can have a look at her astonishingly beautifull and deep paintings at the „Centre Bagatelle“. While usually the young painters are much drawn to shock, to colour, to awe and what you may call an attack on the eyes, Silbermanns paintings are held in earthly tones, mixed with some blue and white, showing architectural structures embedded in their natural surroundings and leaving human or animal life out (actually on none of the paintings there is a human to see). There has been also a catalogue published to the exhibitions i can really recommend to have a look at, fom which i took the photo seen here.

Oreknock, 2013, oil on canvas, 230x180 cm, Johanna Silbermann

Oreknock, 2013, oil on canvas, 230×180 cm, Johanna Silbermann, from the catalogue, page 10

After this rewarding expedition out into the outskirts of Berlin (really, a mile more and you stand in the woods), friday brought a wide range of exhibitions i wanted to visit. After meeting up with the guys running the „Kunstverein Frau Fritsche“ in Kreuzberg, i made my way through town to the near west, more specifically Moabit, a quarter that is to be said „hot“ right now for art spaces (and gentrification, as both goes hand in hand). The exhibition opening i visited was hosted by the venture „The Wand“ – a wordplay obviously, Wand in german is meaning „wall“, in english bar or sorcerers staff. Entitled „The End is The Beginning“ and curated by spanish curator Ana Sanchez de Vivar and Melissa Steckbauer who is running the space, was astonishingly broad ranged (and the space was much bigger than i anticipated). In a subterrrenean, labyrinthic set of rooms, the exhibition – much focussed on monochrome works – exploring positions on ending\beginning e.g. the implications of the word end – trustily following a great quote by T.S. Eliot: „What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.“

For me the exhibition is a definite for this month, for the range of (mostly) Berlin based international artists as well as the quality, the diversity (from painting to video to installation to collage and photography) and for the space, if you do not know it yet that is. The catalogue accompanying the exhibition contains a cd with soundart, that alone is worth the price of ten Euros, although i might have been one of the few to buy it actually (as i said: a hole in the bankaccount, that is Berlin usually).

Enjoy two Photos i took from the Catalogue and make sure to see some art the next weeks!

No Title, Collage, 26,6x20,4 cm, Barbara Breitenfeller

No Title, Collage, 26,6×20,4 cm, Barbara Breitenfeller

Abode\Gastro-eroticism #1, 2013, Acrylic on unstretched canvas and superposed antique under garment, 160x112,5 cm, Laura Lopez Paniagua

Abode\Gastro-eroticism #1, 2013, Acrylic on unstretched canvas and superposed antique under garment, 160×112,5 cm, Laura Lopez Paniagua

Das Dach voller Gedanken II
Paintings by Johanna Silbermann
Centre Bagatelle
Zeltinger Straße 6, 13465 Berlin (near S-Bahn Frohnau)

The End is The Beginning
The Wand
Paulstr. 34, 10557 Berlin
Sa. 14-18 and by appointment


Über philippkoch

author and curator, specializing in literature and writing on visual arts
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