What a weird, beautiful, overwhelming day. Attending the Gallery Weekend preview for the press definitely gave me some material to discuss and/or brag about. Since I wasn't familiar with this kind of event (fresh Berlin transplant!), they already got me at coffee & croissants and cute lunch bags, and it was only the beginning of a 6-hour-long tour through the wonders of this year's edition.
After wiping the croissants off of the table, the press crew was ready for getting the very first sneak peek before everybody else. We got to choose between 4 gallery tours, each covering 10 to 15 places. I guess the tours were also carefully curated, since it took me 2 seconds to decide which one I'm going to take, and I also overheard several „tour x is the best tour“ sort of conversations.
A fair amount of ceremonial feel was present at the beginning of the conference, which later developed into a less sublime but still exclusive type of „only-the-press-gets-to-see the-preview“ presentation thing. The organiser's policy is not to show any pictures of exhibitions on the website in order to make it a mistery hook for the curious. They do have a good point here, because no virtual panorama can replace experiencing the artwork in an actual art space.
Since the issue was metioned by various people throughout the day, I remembered that this year's edition is also special for showing more women artists than in the previous years. I did the simple statistics to find out that there were more female (7) than male (5) artists shown in the gallery tour I took. 94-year-old Maria Lassnig's exhibition at Capitain Petzel celebrates her late success, which is the prime example of women finally making it in the male-dominated art world. Now we can finally start saying – better late than never.
The BMW shuttle cars that were driving us from one place to another were the first highlight of the tour. Maybe I'm being really modest here, but the best I could imagine was a bus driving us around like a bunch of school kids on excursion. The VIP treatment made it significantly easier to experience 12 exhibitions in a day. Almost all of them were still under construction, but the behind-the-scenes excitement of preparation actually contributed to the overall positive energy. It also felt completely different to be in the gallery with the curators giving the immediate insight into the artist's work. It attached the gallery to a human figure and a relatable character.
There were some obvious favorites of mine. Jerszy Seymour at Galerie Crone felt like holidays on LSD. A landscape collage placed on 20000 kg of sand, consisting of found and modified objects, mostly referring to the universe, the subconscious, and the hallucinatory, plus one live frog. We were told we are walking through the artist's mind.
VeneKlasen Werner gallery next door is showing something similarly insane. I'm still not sure if I only liked it because it reminded me of the Primus album covers and my teen years that go with it. The exhibition is certainly entertaining and makes a great couple with the exhibition in Crone.
I loved Bettina Pousttchi's metal street bollards at Buchmann Galerie. They were modified to look impossibly soft and to resemble drunken dancing figures. It gets a big plus in my book for dealing with the questions of public space in an unexpected, witty way.
Carlier Gebauer gallery should be mentioned at least for serving us with champagne, but also for the exhibition of Michel François' work that had a very sophisticated edge. The works are very playful in a very serious way, in a way that makes you feel like a detective while figuring out his „Pieces od Evidence“.
Meeting Javier Peres at his gallery was an event of its own. He's showing the type of pop art I'm not really crazy about (although Alex Israel is an artist with quite an interesting story), but this guy seems to be able to talk and keep you interested in whatever he's saying for days on end. His comments on the Berlin art scene and the supermarket type of gallery offer where you can reach whatever art you crave for at that moment was a great conclusion to our gallery crawl. And yes, not the best show but certainly the best press release – an envelope full with colorful stickers. Fun!
More info: www.gallery-weekend-berlin.de