ABC First impressions from Day One

Text and pictures by Maria Santos

Berlin’s beloved art show kicked off yesterday in the spacious halls of Berlin Station and Bpigs was there to bring you the highlights of this year’s edition.

The “fair” (or to be more accurate: format, platform, initiative… you know what I mean) has gotten us used to a majority of participant artists and galleries from the local scene; there are nonetheless many other positions from out there to be found and not to be missed. The number of international galleries taking part in abc doesn’t seem to be declining at all. And while some of them are being missed (that will be Elastic from Malmö), it is rather refreshing to get to discover other equally interesting participants from around the globe such as Antenna Space from Shangai or Dallas-based gallery Cydonia.
The press conference hosted by abc’s director Maike Cruise shed some light on this year’s edition. The presence of Joanna Meyer-Grohbrügge from the architect duo June 14 was essential to understand the idea behind the spatial concept. This time, gallerists had the option to exhibit their artists in one or more corners of a Raumecke or let their works stand free in space (being the latter a cheaper option, by the way).

The entrance to the space feels rather puzzling. It might be the fault of Giro Futuro at Contemporary Fine Arts. The squared wheels of these unusual bikes are supposed to mess with your mind and make you think of Vitruvian ideas while you are receiving messages from the future, but the effect is the opposite: Instagram’s paradise (Edit: after a second visit and talking to the artist, this piece has a certain charm).

Not being a target of art show’s crowdpleasers myself, couldn't help but find other motivations in the nearest Raumecke: Karl Holmqvist.

Needless to say, this is one of the brightest artists ever represented by the never disappointing Galerie Neu. In this case, they have presented some of his classic text-based (and, as typical of him, humor-infused) canvases together with some of his light works, also containing some hidden verbal messages.

There is a phenomenon which I have been highlighting for a while now and that I always enjoy in high doses while attending art fairs and such. We’ll call it “The magpie effect”. This effect is mostly produced by ”bling bling art” (a term I coined here on the occasion of Arco a while ago) and its' victims are usually old rich European ladies reeking of Chloe. While I don’t quite possess the status of this collector stereotype, some young and brilliant artists are making me develop some worrying tendencies. Those will be Alicja Kwade and Jorinde Voigt, both brought to you by König. In case you didn’t have enough of the former artist, you can always take a ride to Haus am Waldsee tonight to enjoy her promising solo show. And if you also have a serious crush on the latter since that breathtaking show at Klosterfelde, expect some gold and feather extravaganza here that won’t let you indifferent.

On the guilty pleasure department, we can find the mesmerizing works of Constant Dulaart at the Future Gallery, a pretty joke and/or homage to Photoshop. Quite more histrionic but under the same label are Ryan Trecartin’s pictures. This time we got to see some of his usual characters in 2d, and exceptionally framed in holographic snakeskin and other materials of such kitsch nature. Don’t miss his works at Spruth Magers if nightmares in technicolor are your thing.

On the picture, a discreet Trecartin I wouldn’t mind owning

If this is your kind or art, you can’t miss the stand (yes, I deliberately called it 'stand') of Société, who asked their artists to produce easily marketable merchandising objects, from which I can recommend the unusual fragances they concocted (go try by yourself, they smell like PVC and hospital cleaning supplies) and the artist book based on “The Great Gatsby” by Pam. Enjoy carefully.

But it’s not all excitement, and flashy bling bling art. There is a minimalist quota (that would be you, Luca Frei, and you, Ai Wei Wei), and there is also space for artists belonging to other generations: Robert Heinecken polaroid works from the eighties at Capitan Petzel and the mindblowing collection of carefully typewritten postcards of mail artist Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, who mysteriously stopped working after the fall of the Berlin wall. Don’t miss her show and get a postcard edition at Chert.

With whom to play? - Das ist die Frage

Participative art at its best is guaranteed by Rirkrit Tiravanija on this corner of neugerriemschneider. The artist has totally understood what he had to offer to the land of Tischtennis after making them eat wurst. You better try to be around on Sunday for the Monopol Tournament, I heard some gallerists take this game really serious.


So far, the highlights of the first visit to abc. Today is an exciting day because the Bananenhalle is finally open to the visitors, and we are dying to see the collection “Proximities and Desires”, while the panels “Talking Galleries” are also starting today.

We encourage you to go out now and enjoy abc responsibly (wear comfy shoes, keep hydrated and watch out who you give your card to). We will be out and about doing the same.

See you at abc!

Berlin Independents Guide is an artist run communications platform. The exhibition guide comes out every two months and is distributed for free in project spaces, galleries, institutions, and bookstores. Listings are accepted from project spaces, galleries, art institutes and art related venues in Berlin.
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