First Impressions: A Newcomer's take on Gallery Weekend

discussing vodka nuances @Monopol 10 year party

I had heard about Berlin’s Gallery Weekend through my art classes pretty early on in my trip, and had collected multiple gold-foiled advertisements I had seen lying on the desks of galleries, so I was always aware that it would be something I would get to experience during my time here. I figured it would involve a marathon of art viewing, a lot of walking around, and maybe even some interesting people watching, but ya know, nothing too out of the ordinary. Boy, I had no idea what I was in for...

My great Gallery Weekend journey began with an interview at KIK with hot-shot New York gallerist and curator Anna Erickson. The best thing that has come out of my complete rookie-status concerning Berlin and its complex social network of art celebrities, is that generally I do not fully realize what a “big deal” the people that I am assigned to interview are, until AFTER I speak to them. So far, this has worked to my advantage, as I only get retro-actively nervous and fan-girly when I have time to sit down and actually grasp the social and artistic relevance of these people, thus (for the time being at least) avoiding the potential on-set of awkward stage-fright occurring during the interview. This time, however, after Scarlet Johansson, Hauser and Wirth, and Martin Eder came up more than once in conversation, the art-star revelation hit me a little earlier than usual.

Post-interview I got the full Despina gallery tour. My biggest surprise(/slight embarrassment) for the day was that we went to about four galleries quite literally around the corner from my apartment on Kochstrasse that I had no idea existed. One of them, Carlier Gebauer, housed one of my favorite shows of the day, “Memory Places.”

Felix Kiessling at Alexander Levy Galerie

I was also giddy, as I hope is normal for a novice gallery weekender, about all the glamourous aspects of the entire operation. We saw what must of been a few of the über-elites arriving in limos, but to be honest, I was ecstatic about the amount of cabs I took on Friday. My measly student budget has probably only afforded me four cab rides in the last year, and we whisked around Berlin in almost double that number on opening night. First up on the wild cab ride was Peres Projects showing David Ostrowski’s (in)famously minimal paintings. I assume that the blank canvases are meant to be provocative in a way, but to be honest I was a bit underwhelmed. Other notable stops along the way included Felix Kiessling’s delicately balanced rock installation at alexander levy, a valiant attempt to see the performance at Isabella Bortolozzi (line skipping was another Bpigs/Despina perk I was treated too), and a cold, streamlined Liam Gillick show at Esther Schipper, which fused sleek metal sculptures with emotionally jaunting wall texts.


Also falling under the category of “glam” were the outfits on display. As per usual there was no shortage of black leather around, but Berliners got a little more adventurous with their wardrobes on Friday. A floor-length cheetah kimono, a strange abundance of red beanies (?), and Jessica Jackson Hutchins’ snakeskin shoes made my highlight reel of the night.

Jessica Jackson Hutchins Coming II

However, the climax of my gallery weekend did not come until the wee hours of the morning, when we made it to the Monopol party. Earlier in the evening, when full-on art-overload exhaustion began to sink in, and I implied that my night might soon be coming to an end, a horrified Despina assured me that this was in no way possible and that I simply must make it to the party. I am so glad I listened. Complete with masseuse, multiple bars with free cocktails, and an apparently super-famous DJ whose name I pretended to recognize, there was really nothing more I could have wanted in a party. I shook hands with many people who were far too important for me to be meeting and had a phenomenal time hanging out with the rest of the Bpigs staff.

Overall, my first gallery weekend experience exceeded all expectations I had set and I hope many more lie in my future. Next time I will be armed with trendier shoes, a flawless mental map of every gallery in the city, and an outfit more conducive for the possibility of an impromptu massage.

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