The closest I have been to know them was meeting Georg Parthen and Nicolas Wollnik at their so-named space in Köpenickerstr. 159.
Their paths crossed in Essen while studying Communication Design at the art school. Back in those days they thought that it would be nice to have a space of their own where to materialize common ideas and try out things. After previous solo experiences, they became partners in 2009, moved to Berlin and opened Minken & Palme in January 2010.
In this “curational project and exhibition space” (as they claim it to be), solo, double and group shows by both emerging and established artists from different disciplines and backgrounds will be hosted in the main room, corridors and even in the toilet.
Georg and Nico are quite open and excited about new inspiring ideas. They specially enjoy cooperation, getting to know people and working together. And they do like curating, but also find interesting to give carte blanche to other artists and curators, in order to allow them develop their own site-specific projects, so the experience turns richer for everyone.
You can visit Minken & Palme during their opening events or by appointment. Don't hesitate in spontaneusly call them, they will nicely receive you at the gallery. I was lucky enough to catch Krautpleaser and even got a guided mini-tour through the exhibition.
Tonight they are opening a group shop, Ernstzunehmende Kandidaten waren Braune Zwerge (serious candidates were brown dwarfs). With such intriguing title, how in the world would you not attend to the opening event?. Highly recommended.
What was your main concept before you started?
To learn something out of this by making ourselves questions like: how does a certain piece works in an specific place? How do other artists go round with their creative process? And so on. Basically we wanted to try out different things
What were your goals?
Something completely personal: to come to Berlin and become part of the cultural scene and the city network. We were keen to experience what is going on here by ourselves and arrange things in a way that is according to our ideas.
We ended up opening the kind of exhibition space which we already expected to exist somewhere. The kind of place that we imagined would like to invite people like us to make exhibitions, but this never happened. So we got to the conclussion that we should be opening something like that by ourselves. And then started approaching people whose work we like and ask them: this is the space, do you feel like doing something here?
How do you finance your space?
We have jobs that make the money to afford it: photo editing and post-production works for advertisement photography. While we host exhibition in this space, we also work in our parallel projects at the office. That's how we manage.
The artworks exhibited here are on sale, but that's neither our urgency, nor our main idea. Above everything, we don't want to make exhibitions with commercial intentions. We didn't conceived a space adressed to collectors. It's also an aspect that doesn't make any influence when choosing artists or works. We stick to our starting position because it gives us all the freedom in the world
Exhibition view. Works by Joachim Weischer. Picture courtesy of Minken & Palme
What is succesful curating according to you?
When you make something that triggers debates and you can positively ask questions like: am I learning something out of this? is this well staged? do the artists have an in interesting approach? is it making people reflect on it? Instead of bothering about minor things like who and how many came
Do you have any favourite curator?
Thomas Weski (HGB Leipzig) is a interesting figure. He is involved with photography and curates high quality exhibitions with a very critique approach. He did a great work at the Haus der Kunst in Munich. He is continously confronting his own opinions, and seems to be very human. Not cocky whatsoever
How do you pick your artists?
Either they are friends of us, we know them through acquaintances, or we saw their works at some art school exhibition, art fairs or in the internet. Then we kindly ask them to collaborate with us. Last year we asked Ralf Grossek if we could exhibit a whole archive of almost two hundred of his photographs
Picture courtesy of Minken & Palme
What did you learn from curating and running the space?
If your are sloppy the show goes slope...
I think that you can learn by yourself from your own daily experience by organizing basic stuff or taking decisions. Two partners is a perfect combination in what comes to taking decisions, since no one can escape. Either we split responsabilities or we work together, but we have regular tasks that must be accomplished. In a space run by six or ten people there is a sort of operative vaccum. They have this democratic structure and all that, but that only slows down things and makes difficult to organize an exhibition
How would you sintetize the attide of your space?
Totally uncool. People in Berlin want to be cool. The art scene is mostly about being wacky, and insecure around here.
We always wanted to remain authentic. It's not necessary to be arrogant in order to make a good work. Our idea of a space is making things in a good quality level without being artsy fartsy
What are your favourite galleries and/or institutions in Berlin?
And out of the Berlin bubble?
How will be everything in five years?
It will be completely different. And most likely somewhere else, although we will continue doing curatorial projects and exhibitions together. But the space will be exhausted by then: this 30m² room, the wallpapers, the toilet... we should try out more in order to learn more. Perhaps a new space format?