Project Space Festival 2015: Mid month report

PSF 2015
Text and pictures by Cyrus Smith
For its second year running, the Project Space Festival returns to Berlin giving the participating spaces, artists, and visitors an opportunity to partake in a very unique experience. With performances, pool tournaments, panel discussions, pop-up shops and many more, the Festival provides the chance to see certain aspects detailing the very nature of what a project space is. Most of the events are structured within a 24 hour, or ‘one night only’ framework, so if you miss it, it’s gone. This format addresses the project space’s fragility and temporality. Artists can realize possibilities in these arenas that they may not otherwise be able to execute within the standard exhibition regulations of an institution or gallery setting. And that, in itself, is quite refreshing. If you are lucky enough to catch them all (unemployed), you are offered a window into the essence of true artistic inspiration inside a platform of less restriction or conformity.
Highlights thus far:
tête: Hors d’œuvre - The Secondary Concern #2
Opening day for the Festival at tête was calm, and the gallery was filled with small works of edible art. Located in a nice quiet nook of Schönhauser Allee, tête is an artist-run, time-share gallery. There were videos screened in the back, which dealt more about politics using food or cooking as a jumping off point. The crowd was a mix of young and old, with kids enjoying the show as much as the adults and art hipsters. It’s great to see the youth exposed to this type of scene, and they made the atmosphere welcoming. The food was created by artists that don’t ‘deal’ with food as their medium, and most of it looked like ‘art’ which had people question their edibility.
Berlin-Weekly: NUDE MODEL 2GO
Organized as a window display, rather than a space that you enter, openings at Berlin-Weekly are always so fun as the crowd usually spills onto the street obstructing traffic. Their contribution to the PSF this year had participants sketch life drawings of two nude models inside the space. Once completed, the drawings were scattered on the floor around the models and would remain there for the following week as evidence of what took place. The weather was perfect, and spirits were high as artists and non-artists alike could freely interpret what they saw. Bpigs made a drawing.
Two new works by Chryssa Tsampazi and Sharon Paz were featured in the Oranienstraße space which offered a two-channel video installation by Paz that cut the space in half with interesting silhouettes of moving imagery. Tsampazi contributed with a sound installation in the cellar and outside the gallery, coupled with a performance of runners. She invited people from different backgrounds to run in, through, and around the gallery. It was a hot Berlin summer day, and one could only have sympathy and admiration for the performers. The text of the narration was inspired by novelist Zelda Rhino’s Caposcripti, which Tsampazi recorded while running. There was a nice interplay between the two artists work, as you were experiencing the video installation, a runner would whip past you up the stairs unexpectedly.
institu: Center of Future Self-Voyages
Held in Kanya Berlin Project Space, Center of Future Self-Voyages allowed the audience to indulge in self-encounters or observe the journey of others. With four participating artists, one could have a tarot card reading, unlock your inner migration, or receive some fake therapy questioning the action of healing itself. A well attended and nicely organized event. The metaphysical and esoteric context gave the guests a euphoric uplifting and all of the participants had smiles as though they had been drugged. The interactivity was wonderful. It’s a rare but important thing to have the cathartic power of artistic practice operate from both sides of the producer vs. audience standpoint.
General Public: What the f**k is a project space?
Arguably one of the most important events of the Festival thus far, What the f**k is a project space? was a panel discussion and open forum questioning the very definition of a project space, and the fragility of its existence. Held in the nGbk courtyard, a panel composed of organizers and participants of this years Festival carried out the discourse over sustainability, state funding, the independence from larger institutions and so forth. The audience and panel together had some very good insight into what makes a project space a project space and not a gallery, however the night ended with no clear conclusion. The real danger is in the very nature of asking that question. Once we define a project space, as a standard, we inflict a set of parameters to follow or abide by, which is no better than the frameworks of the larger gallery system. With this we risk destroying the beautiful, fragile, and albeit temporal nature of what a project space really is.

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