Our recommendations for abc art berlin contemporary 2014: Yorgos Sapountzis

Just like last year, we are doing the official tours on the grounds of the 2014 edition of abc art berlin contemporary. And just like last year, we are giving you sneak previews of what you might be able to discover on those tours. (As always, we focus on artworks that might gain a lot with some extra explanations…)

And so, we recommend: Yorgos Sapountzis’ contemporary antiqueness

Sapountzis’ installation for Galerie Barbara Gross will invite you to sit at a large round dinner table. Instead of fancy food servings, he will have dished up the remains of a performance he did last year in Bristol: Between shreds of fabric and sheets of aluminum, plaster casts of sculptures in Bristol’s public space will pair up with sealed jars of pickled vegetables. Oh yeah?

We have seen Yorgos Sapountzis’ work a couple of times already: at Based in Berlin, at Bortolozzi Gallery, during an art walk through a University… and still we cannot pretend that we completely grasp what he is doing. But that makes us even more excited to experience his work again. At best, one could perhaps call it a contemporary take on antique sculptures and drama. In his performances, the greek artist (*1976, Athens, lives and works in Athens and Berlin) uses handy materials to veil and unveil sculptures in public spaces, take quick plaster casts of them and stage ritualized processions that always involve the spectators. It’s a  funky melange of high and low art. Bon appetit!

Picture: Yorgos Sapountzis, The Protagonists2013, installation view, Arnolfini, Bristol, 2013, courtesy the artist and Barbara Gross Galerie 


Curatorial initiative Import Projects is definitely a big favorite of ours. It is run by Nadim Samman, currently curator at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary and Anja Henckel – who, by the way, is also part of the Niche team. We admire their surprising curatorial choices and their accessible approach to art which deals with our networked era.

Fortunately the Art Week jury shared our sympathy and made them one of this year’s official partners. For logistic reasons we could not include them in our public Art Week Tours, on Saturday in Kreuzberg and on Sunday in Mitte. But we asked them to give you good reasons not to miss their current show Marguerite Humeau HORIZONS.


Why are you showing Marguerite Humeau at Import Projects during Berlin Art Week?

Marguerite Humeau is a forward thinking artist whose work combines technical innovation with a rigorous conceptual approach. What marks her out from many of her peers is the way she balances intellectual and scientific subject matter with a sense of the fantastic. She was trained as a designer but, rather than creating objects or products to satisfy a brief, her works have a speculative character that is surprising and unlikely. Her art borrows from the tropes of science fiction in order to create new realities. We first came across her work at her MA show at the Royal College of Art (London) in 2011 - where one of her pieces was acquired immediately by the MoMA (NYC). Since then Marguerite’s work has appeared at the Hayward Gallery, the Palais du Tokyo, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Despite this incredible trajectory, she has only ever had one previous solo exhibition (in Switzerland). As yet, she is also without gallery representation. This is, quite simply, an unusual set of credentials for a young artist. Taking this into account, and appreciating her work as we do, offering her a solo exhibition seemed like an urgent thing to do. Berlin won’t be disappointed!

What’s important about this show?

Marguerite is a young artist with a small body of work, but the projects that she has realised are extremely resolved. She has a very confident approach while developing series that straddle academic and scientific disciplines. Most importantly, her projects are interesting! We’re extremely proud to present works from her Opera for Prehistoric Creatures, in which she worked with archaeologists, biologists and scholars of language to produce sound-making sculptures that physically resuscitate the roars of extinct beasts. This undead chorus is accompanied by works from her series The Things?, a set of ‘design blockbusters’ for the extremophile organisms that live in the boiling waters surrounding Antarctica’s underwater volcanoes. The works from this series are outlandish (but functional) mechanisms for making communicative contact with such alien lifeforms. Angelic Organ, another work on show, reimagines an arcane musical technology for communicating with poltergeists. With this show Import Projects is presenting all of Humeau’s existing major works. This is Germany’s first introduction to Marguerite, but we will certainly be hearing a lot more from her.

Import Projects Keithstrasse 10 10787 Berlin Thu-Sat 1-5 pm (until Oct. 11)

There will be an Artist Talk with Marguerite Humeau on Sept. 18, 7pm.

Berlin Masters Tour

Niche Berlin präsentiert: eine Künstlertour im Rahmen der Ausstellung “Berlin Masters 2014”.

Niche Berlin begleitet Felix Kiessling und Fabian Knecht, die den Tourteilnehmern Einblick in ihre räumlich-konzeptuellen Arbeiten und vor allem in ihren Arbeitskontext geben. Jung und erfolgreich – beide Künstler haben in diesem Jahr nicht nur ihr Meisterschüler-Studium in Olafur EliassonsInstitut für Raumexperimente" an der UdK abgeschlossen, sondern sind derzeit auch bei "Berlin Masters 2014” in der Galerie Arndt zu sehen. Die Ausstellung bildet den Ausgangspunkt. Sie findet in diesem Jahr zum zweiten Mal statt und beruht auf einer simplen, aber genialen Idee: Die Kuratorinnen Lydia Korndörfer und Lisa Polten präsentieren ihre zehn persönlichen Favoriten der diesjährigen Abschlusspräsentationen der Kunsthochschulen UdK und Weißensee. 

Zu sehen gibt es bei Berlin Masters (unter anderem) schwindelerregende Installationen und Soundarbeiten von Paul Darius und Felix Kiessling, Spurenobjekte von Jeewi Lee und Johannes Regin, besondere Fenster-Arbeiten von Ossian Fraser und Fabian Knecht und bunte, eigenwillige Bildhauerei von Verena Schmidt. Und ein Überraschungswerk in der Abstellkammer – ebenfalls von Fabian Knecht.


Installationsansicht: Berlin Masters 2014, mit Arbeiten von Verena Schmidt und Marc von der Hocht (im Hintergrund)

Bei der Tour am kommenden Samstag (13.09.) führen Kiessling und Knecht die Teilnehmer zunächst durch die Ausstellung, um sie dann mit in ihr Atelier zu nehmen. Bei der Führung stehen neben der Erkundung ihrer konkreten künstlerischen Arbeiten auch ganz lebensnahe, persönliche Fragen im Vordergrund, etwa: wie wohnt, wie arbeitet, wie lebt man als junger Künstler in Berlin? Zumal, wenn man sich gegen Ende des Studiums neu orientieren muss? In welchen Gruppen formiert man sich, wie grenzt man die eigene Praxis aber auch von Gruppenarbeiten ab? 

Wir freuen uns auf die spannende Entdeckungstour! Begleitet wird sie von der Kunstwissenschaftlerin und Kuratorin Franziska Solte.

Wann: Samstag, 13. September 2014, 12 Uhr

Dauer: ca. 2 Stunden

Kosten: 20 Euro pro Person

Anmeldung unter contact@nicheberlin.de

Stichwort: Künstlertour

First-ever Project Space Festival

Yesterday’s press conference made us even more excited about the first-ever Project Space Festival in Berlin.

For the whole month of August, every night there will be openings, performances, tastings, competitions, field trips, talks, screenings and what-not in selected project spaces throughout the city. In the words of the organizers – the three ladies of in situ project space – the selection is not supposed to reflect the crème de la crème of Berlin’s alternative art scene, but rather its variety. All kinds of spaces participate: some with unique concepts, some with unique spatial situations, a specific focus or nomadic approaches. The festival is supported, as so often, by the participants’ enthusiasm – but also some collaborators such as Visit Berlin or Eye out, the mobile art guide, which will provide a special section on the festival. 

Unless you have superpowers or nothing else to do, you probably won’t make it to all the events. No worries, Niche is here to give you some directions. You could start right away with Import Projects on Friday the 1st of August: They will be screening a film by Ursula Mayer, which looks really good, followed by an artist talk with curator Nadim Samman. LEAP has a fantastic plan: Under the title LTMSFU (Let me search that for you) they will be hosting the first-ever search-engine-championship on August 7th. With bbq and music. (The notoriously hilarious Yahoo answers will be part of the show). The day after, Kleine Humboldt Galerie will lead the way through an otherwise not so arty building, Humboldt University’s institute for agriculture. Totally worth a visit – they did something similar for Art Week last year and got lots of props for it. On top of promising art shows, you will be able to taste delicious things at tete, ZK/U, Kinderhook&Caracas, Espace Surplus, Sonntag (great concept), Apartment Project, and NuN, but personally, we are especially looking forward to the field trip to site specific installations in Grunewald, organized by Center on August 26th.

Wow. So much to see, so much to do. If you have no time for any of this, maybe the closing party on the 31st of August will do for you: there will be professional pictures of all the events for those who missed out. Make sure it’s not you. 

Angela Merkel and other magnets at the 8th Berlin Biennale

So, the 8th Berlin Biennial. Sueddeutsche Zeitung found it too shy, too careful. In his artnet article, Alexander Forbes wrote he doesn’t really find much innovation in it. He points out really quite striking parallels to the past dOCUMENTA (13), like the wish to tackle peripheral subjects, locations or artists. Or the mini „brain“, in Juan A. Gaitán’s case called „A private collection“, in the venue Haus am Waldsee. (Both artists I will write about here participated in the last documenta, by the way.)

Nonetheless, my visits to the peripheral venues in Dahlem during the first week of the show really paid off. This is not least due to two rewarding performances I got to witness.

The first was Goshka Macuga’s 50 minute play Preparatory Notes for a Chicago Comedy (thanks, Leonie and Christina, for saving that seat!). It draws on an 1895 comedy script by notorious art historian Aby Warburg, founder of the iconological method. With the help of curator Dieter Roelstraete, the artist took Warburg’s tongue-in-cheek account of conservative and liberal factions in the art world of his time and adapted it to comment on the art circus of our time. Hysterically funny at times, for example when performance artist Marina Abramovic annoys everyone (including Warburg) with her self-publicizing ego, or when Angela Merkel comments laconically on the phone-hacking scandal, it is also a great example of how artists can rewrite historical narratives, one of Gaitán’s aims at this year’s Biennale. Unfortunately, the one I saw was the last staging – but it was videotaped.


Goshka Macuga in collaboration with Dieter Roelstraete, stage of Preparatory Notes for a Chicago Comedy, 2014 © Photo: Haupt & Binder

The second rewarding performance was a concert of Tarek Atoui’s Dahlem Sessions. Since October 2013, Atoui had repeatedly invited professional experimental musicians to play the historical instruments of the Ethnological Museum. Some of these instruments were unfamiliar to them and so they simply invented new ways of playing them: With magnets, portable fans, bouncy balls and other paraphernalia. The result was not only a very experimental half hour concert. Atoui and his musicians also recorded a “sound library” of their endeavours. They thus enhanced the collection of „field recordings“ of foreign sounds, ambiance, languages, chants and music already existent in the museum. I really like how incidentally, these sessions have now invented a new, experimental, weird musical language that could now once again be filed like an ethnological artefact. In this concert, the interconnection between history and presence was so tangible. 

Both of these performances highlighted the curator’s approach to history in the best possible way. Our very attentive friend Friederike noted another positive feature of this Biennial: She pointed out that this is the first exhibition she has (maybe ever?) seen that tackles a postcolonial subject without making the mistake of stating the artists’ country of origin on every label. So there. As Sueddeutsche Zeitung put it, it is an elegant but shy biennial. Maybe that’s a good thing, for once?

by Stefanie Gerke

PS: If you missed these events, there are other happenings at the Biennale that might enhance your experience of it. Like this special guided tour or this talk with the curator. Make sure to check out the program


Zum Gallery Weekend 2014 haben wir für Cee Cee Ausstellungen und Performances zusammengetragen, auf die wir uns besonders freuen. See you there!

"Unpraktische Gebilde" nannte Friedrich Teepe seine in der Tat sehr unpraktischen, aber faszinierenden Objekte. Der 2012 verstorbene Künstler arbeitete zeitlebens in Osnabrück und verwehrte sich einer internationalen Karriere, um stattdessen an einem Gymnasium zu unterrichten. Kuratorin Eva Wilson sagt deshalb über die gemeinsam mit Euridice Arratia zusammengestelte Ausstellung: "Es ist toll, der Ich-AG-Kunstwelt von 2014 eine sehr andere Künstlerbiographie entgegenzustellen." Die Abgeschiedenheit tat seiner Kunst keinen Abbruch, ganz im Gegenteil: Leinwände und Polster nähte, faltete, schnitt, bemalte und begürtete er zu großformatigen Gebilden, deren Eigenart fasziniert. Am 3.5. gibt es um 16 Uhr eine Performance des Cellisten Augustin Maurs mit Louis-Philippe Scoufaras, basierend auf der Zahl 3 und in Form einer abstrahierten Musikstunde. (Fotos: Courtesy Arratia Beer)
Arratia Beer, Potsdamer Str.87, 10785 Berlin-Tiergarten
Opening: 2.5.2014; Laufzeit: bis 14.6.2014
Performance: 3.5.2014, 16h

Die BQ Galerie ist schon länger für ihre konzeptuellen, philosophischen, wortspielerischen Schauen bekannt. Momentan widmet sie dem Turnerpreisträger Richard Wright eine sehenswerte Ausstellung in ihren Haupträumen, die ein Jahr lang (!) in Kapiteln aufeinander aufbaut. Zum Gallery Weekend kommt noch ein neuer Coup hinzu: “Upstairs” heißt die neue, regelmäßig zu bespielende Ausstellungsfläche der Galerie im Hinterhaus. Hier zeigt BQ aktuell Alexandra Bircken, die uns schon oft durch ihre eigenwilligen, organischen Skulpturen aufgefallen ist. Ihre Einzelausstellung heißt “B.U.F.F.”, das steht für “Big Ugly Fat Fellow”, die militärinterne, umgangssprachliche Bezeichnung für den amerikanischen Langstreckenbomber B-52. Die großformatigen Latexobjekte erinnern dabei nicht zufällig an überdimensionale Phallussymbole. Birckens experimentelle Verwendung von Material – sie hat Modedesign studiert – macht ihre Ausstellungen immer absolut sehenswert. (Fotos: Roman März / Courtesy BQ)

BQ, Weydingerstr.10, 10178 Berlin-Mitte
Opening: Fr 2.5.2014, 18-21h
Laufzeit: 3.5.-28.6.2014

Simon Dybbroe Møllers Ausstellung “Aperture & Orifice” zu Öffnungen, Begehren und Aneignung in der Galerie Kamm zeigt, dass die Kombination aus Ironie und Kunst durchaus gelingen kann. Im engeren Sinne geht es um Fototechnik und Essen, im Weiteren um die Nähe von Vulgärem und Stilisierten. Das Video “Untitled (How Does it Feel” (2014)) kombiniert absurde Netzclips zur Canon Mark ii Kamera – diese nahm als erste Spiegelreflexkamera auch professionelle Filmsequenzen auf – und unterlegt sie mit dem titelgebenden Lied von D’Angelo. Ein grauenvolles Phänomen greift auch die Serie “Negative Plates”(2014) auf: Das Fotografieren der angerichteten Nahrung vor dem Einverleiben. Auf den Keramiktellern befinden sich mit aus Kunstharz gegossene Nachbildungen halb gegessener Mahlzeiten. Eine “Denkmal für das peptische Nichtstun”, so der Künstler, setzt Møller dagegen an der Kurfürstenstraße 142. Auf der umzäunten Brache einer Baugruppe arrangiert er zwischen Müll und Unkraut eine Spritzbeton-Skulptur aus seiner Serie “Sporting” aus dem Jahr 2013. (Foto: Courtesy Galerie Kamm)

Galerie Kamm, Rosa-Luxemburg-Str.43, 10178 Berlin-Mitte
Opening: 2.5.2014 18-21h
Laufzeit: 3.5.-14.6.2014

Beim Gallery Weekend gibt es viel zu sehen. Zum Auftakt des Wochenendes gönnen wir unseren Augen deshalb noch eine kurze Pause und konzentrieren uns allein auf unseren akustischen Sinn. Ignacio Uriarte präsentiert im Eingangsbereich der Berlinischen Galerie “Acht Stunden zählen”. Uriarte, der Betriebswirtschaft studiert hat, setzt sich in dieser Klanginstallation, wie auch in früheren Arbeiten, mit der Monotonie des Büroalltags auseinander. Hier hören wir einen Mann zählen. Acht Stunden lang. Jede Silbe nimmt dabei eine Sekunde ein. Uriarte verweist damit nicht nur auf den regulären Arbeitstag eines Angestellten, sondern gliedert diesen durch Sprache neu. Am Ende der acht Stunden ist der Sprecher bei der Zahl 3599 angelangt. Und wir vermutlich froh, dass wir den Büroalltag für diese Woche bereits hinter uns gelassen haben. (Foto: Courtesy Berlinische Galerie)

Berlinische Galerie, Alte Jakobstr.124-128, Berlin-Kreuzberg

Eröffnung mit Brunch: 3.5.2014, 11h; der Eintritt zur Ausstellung ist zwischen 10-12h kostenlos Laufzeit: bis 30.6.2014

Eine weitere, mysteriöse Performance gibt es am Samstag auch bei der Galerie Meyer Riegger zu sehen und zwar im Rahmen der Ausstellung “Februar” von Katinka Bock. Bock verwendet natürliche Materialien – die Arbeit “Martinzùl”(2014) etwa besteht aus Holz, Stoff und Salz – ohne dabei ins Esoterische abzurutschen. Ihre Arbeiten sind angenehm einfach und klar und zeichnen sie sich durch aberwitzige Spannungsverhältnisse aus. Häufig konzipiert sie sie ihre Arbeiten erst in den Ausstellungsräumen, was die Skulpturen und Interventionen zu Begegnung von Gegenständen, Situationen und Räumen macht. Umso gespannter sind wir auf ihre Performance “Nord”. (Fotos: Courtesy Meyer Riegger)

Meyer Riegger, Friedrichstr.235, 10969 Berlin-Kreuzberg
Eröffnung: 2.5.2014, 18-21h; bis 31.5.2014
Performance: 3.5.2014, 12h


Yes, it’s an anniversary – 10 Years of GW – and yes, there will be amazing gallery shows. Only, these shows will be on for a couple of weeks and this weekend you won’t see much of the actual works anyways (due to the crowds of people), so why not go for more fun activities and discover the less known spots to start with? Voilà: Our personal Gallery Weekend selection for our favorite Berlin blog – Stil in Berlin


Alicja Kwade at CFL


The Contemporary Food Lab states to be a platform for the hungry for knowledge, which investigates how our diet shapes our relationship to nature and vice versa. Part of their interdisciplinary approach is – of course – artistic collaborations and they invited Berlin based artist Alicja Kwade to react to their quarterly topic »stagnation«. As far as we’re concernced: we’re curious to see both, the CFL space and of course Kwade’s new pieces 24 Stunden and Stellar Day (23 Stunden, 56 Minuten, 4,099 Sekunden.

Contemporary Food Lab Exhibition Space, Bergstr 22, 10115 Berlin

Opening 30.4., 7-9 PM

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Christoph “radicality” Schlingensief

When the young lady at the press conference asked Klaus Biesenbach to “say something” about Christoph Schlingensief’s radicality, a giggle went through the room. Asking this is like asking to comment on Christoph Schlingensief himself. He was radical all through. And much too complex to be explained in one sentence.

But this young lady had of course, in a way, nailed it: Radicality is really the word that keeps coming back to your mind when walking through the exhibition that opens today at KW - Institute for Contemporary Art, curated by Biesenbach, Anna-Catharina Gebbers, Susanne Pfeffer and Aino Laberenz. Who but Schlingensief would do a “Hitler Stalin Porn”? 


Or who would make you go through a stair lift procedure, only to discover one of his provocative little videos behind a curtain?


And who else would make people sit on stakes for hours to make them profess their fears?


A lot has been said about this incredibly diverse artist, film maker, opera director, and his oeuvre. But maybe not enough of it has been seen. We advise you to plan a whole day for your visit of this show. It contains innumerable videos, films and complex installations that deserve a bit of our attention. Their influence cannot be underestimated.

There is something else you can do to help Schlingensief’s legacy to live on: Donate for his Opera Village Africa. Help this unique project to survive. We certainly did.




TANAS: More questions than answers

Walking up Heidestraße, around the corner from Hamburger Bahnhof, it’s hard to believe that this street used to be one of Berlin’s gallery hotspots. The area is currently under redevelopment and feels more like no-man’s-land than ever -  rows of car garages on one side, construction sites on the other. Even Tanas' staircase in the industrial backyard is pitch-black, but for the glow of a neon sign in arabic.

The sign - a work by Mario Rizzi - reads Ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ an-niẓām (‘The people demand of the fall of the regime’), a slogan that first emerged during the Tunisian revolution and became closely associated with the Arab Spring. This political undertone characterizes many of the artworks on display in the current show, The Unanswered Question, Iskele 2, including Olaf Metzel's large, hand-folded aluminum sheets.

Olaf Metzel, ‘Taksim’, 2013

Printed with press photographs of protests in Turkey, it is as if the artist had rescued the pages of a crumpled newspaper and given them permanent life inside the gallery. Born and raised in Kreuzberg, Metzel is interested in the way Turkish newspapers in Berlin reported on the events in Istanbul. As the artist explains, ‘Parallel societies here in Germany are evident not just in the language’. 

Although Tanas describes itself as Berlin’s centre for Turkish art (Tanas is an anagram of the Turkish word for art, ‘sanat’), the current exhibition incorporates artists from many regions, including the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East and Germany. For those who missed Annika Kahrs’ Playing to the Birds at abc,here is your chance to catch another glimpse of the German artist’s beautiful video installation. 

Using the same medium as Kahrs but striking a much darker note, Adel Abidin's 1 + 2. Ping Pong consists of two players competing in a heated match of table tennis. Instead of a net, a naked woman lies in the middle of the table. As the ball flies back and forth the players are oblivious to the woman’s pain and we as viewers are torn between the thrill of the match and our repulsion at this aggression on the human body. Perhaps this can be seen as an allusion to the suffering of women caught in the crossfire of men’s power struggle?


Video Still, Adel Abidin, ‘1 + 2. Ping Pong’, 2009

This, and many other ‘unanswered questions’, are what make Iskele2 one of the most engaging shows of the season. But hurry: the exhibition runs until Sunday, Nov. 3rd, after which Tanas will be permanently closed, as its curator Rene Block moves on to other projects and ventures. 

Tanas, Heidestraße 50, 10557 Berlin, Tues to Sun 12-6pm