B.erlin is the strangest art city of all. On the one hand, there is endless money to build gigantic museums, such as the Museum of the 20th Century, which is growing up next to Mies van der Rohe’s expensive and perfectly renovated National Gallery; on the other hand, the state museums that deal with contemporary art lack the funds to pay their employees decently. There are hundreds of galleries, but no fair to be taken seriously, and the real estate boom has made it increasingly difficult to find spaces where current art can be produced and shown.
The “Direct Auction” sponsored by the Berlin Senate for Economic Affairs recently showed how vacant houses can be used to make otherwise invisible art known; One of the most interesting sales shows in Berlin took place on the 23rd floor of the vacant Postbank skyscraper on Halleschen Ufer, with a wide view of the city.
A tower for art
The basic idea of this initiative, launched by the publicist Holm Friebe, among others, was to create a framework in which artists can sell their works directly. This was intended as a help in Corona times and took place for the first time last year; This year there were 700 lots, the artists could decide whether to sell directly or with their gallery – if they have one. Above all, the walk into the tower was worthwhile, because among the established greats there were also artists to be discovered who do not yet have a gallery and for whom it is otherwise difficult to become visible.
The auction was a great success, the post-auction sale is now on direkteauktion.com; there is often the price that a framed art print in an upscale interior design store costs to buy the work from an artist, which may one day hang in the big museums. Thomas Draschan’s photographs of sprayed garage doors (“Reichsgaragenverordnung”) are available for 950 euros, for 1,400 euros there is neo-constructivism by Nikola Richard (“Additional angles”), Verena Issel, who is currently being celebrated internationally for her jungle installations made of plastic objects, has two paintings that show a wild antiquity (“Longing for your culture”; “American Medea”) and are still available for 1,100 to 2,000 euros.
How lively the Berlin scene is despite all the problems can also be seen when walking through the established galleries: At Kraupa Tuskany Zeidler, you can see works by Brook Hsu that are interwoven like a jungle. The artist Cemile Sahin, who was also celebrated as a writer for her experimental novels “Taxi” and “All Dogs Die”, is now under contract with Schipper and is showing a work on the treaties of Sèvres and Lausanne, which the allied western powers over decided the fate of the Ottoman Empire; Sahin combines image, sculpture and text in a way that has never been seen before to create an image argument that continues to speculate about the consequences of this contract to this day.
The lights of Manhattan
At Sexauer, Isabelle Graeff has built an enchanting metropolis out of glazed ceramics, which from a distance looks like a phantasmagoric Manhattan: Hundreds of acorns lie between bulbous hollow shapes on which candles tower into the air like skyscrapers (22,000 euros).
The flames are reflected in the ground as if it were the black Hudson River; the glitter and flickering of the work is a reminder of what people once looked for in the big metropolises with their millions of fireplaces and what touches everyone who heads towards the Manhattan skyline: the sight of something too big to be grasped at once to be able to, of solemn, enormous energies and a greater warmth, the promise to disappear in the foreign and to be able to lead a different life – the complete opposite of the strange battle cry “more Bullerbü”, under which the political Berlin just at the withering away the City works.