Contemporary Art

Five Unmissable Shows at Berlin Art Week 2018

By Laurie Rojas

Visitors will have a wealth of events to choose from during the highly anticipated Berlin Art Week (26–30 September). Taking place two weeks later than its former mid-September slot, it now coincides with the opening of the European Month of Photography biennial, the country’s largest photography festival, while two art fairs, Art Berlin and Positions, will take place in the former Tempelhof airport’s hangars. Here are five must-see shows:

The World on Paper

Raqib Shaw, Untitled, 2003. © Raqib Shaw.

The inaugural exhibition of Deutsche Bank’s new forum for art, culture, and sport, PalaisPopulaire, located on Unter den Linden, provides a gateway into paper-based art. Three hundred works are drawn from the collection, which has provided audiences around the world with crucial access to contemporary art for more than 30 years and focuses on work from the post-Second World War period to the present. The exhibition has three sections, beginning with abstract art on paper, featuring artists from the Bauhaus, Sigmar Polke, Joan Mitchell, Imi Knoebel, Katharina Grosse and Haegue Yang. A section dedicated to self-image, body and identity includes works by Joseph Beuys, Dieter Roth and Japanese performance artist Atsuko Tanaka, while a final section examines urban spaces, technology and mass culture.

PalaisPopulaire, 27 September, 2018 – 7 January, 2019

Lee Bul: Crash

Lee Bul, Cravings, 1989. Photo courtesy of Studio Lee Bul.

Lee Bul’s multi-sensory exhibition at the Martin Gropius Bau marks the Korean artist’s first solo show in Germany. Bul is known for her performances, installations and stage sets, which explore dreams, utopias, science fiction and visionary architecture, and often allude to Korean history and politics. Unique to the Martin Gropius Bau survey is the focus on parallels between Korea and Germany, both in terms of dealing with trauma of a divided country and the question of reunification.

Martin Gropius Bau, 29 September, 2018 – 13 January, 2019

Agnieszka Polska: The Demon’s Brain

Agnieszka Polska, Horse Head, 2018. Photo courtesy of Branicka Galerie, Berlin.

The prestigious Preis der Nationalgalerie supports young artists with a solo exhibition every two years. The ninth edition features a multi-channel video installation by the Berlin-based artist Agnieszka Polska at Hamburger Bahnhof, which draws from a 15th-century correspondence between Mikołaj Serafin, an official who governed the Polish salt mines as a proto-capitalist venture, his workers, and a series of debtors and creditors. The result is a hallucinatory experience that combines Christian apocalyptic theology with a meditation on the catastrophic consequences of contemporary capitalism.

Hamburger Bahnhof, 27 September, 2018 – 3 March, 2019

Julian Charrière: As We Used to Float

Julian Charrière, Terminal Beach - Aomen I, 2016.

Another apocalyptic vision is conjured up by Julian Charrière’s solo show at Berlinische Galerie. Charrière is a former student of Olafur Eliasson at the Institut für Raumexperimente in the University of the Arts in Berlin, and much of his work is the result of expeditions around the world, looking at how humans have transformed nature. For this exhibition, visitors will be transported underwater into the former atomic test site in the Pacific Ocean known as Bikini Atoll, where the artist conducted an expedition partially inspired by English novelist JG Ballard’s Atomic Beach.

Berlinische Galerie, 27 September, 2018 – 8 April, 2019

Pause: Evelyn Taocheng Wang. What is he afraid of?

Evelyn Taocheng Wang, Cool Smell Room, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Fons Welters.

Chinese artist Evelyn Taocheng Wang focuses on how the perception of our bodies and our identities changes across history and different cultures. This four-day presentation at KW Institute for Contemporary Art will showcase the artist’s new work, consisting of two films and large-scale fabrics. It draws from the well-known fairy tale of The Princess and the Frog, exploring the fluidity of identity from a transgender perspective.

KW Institute for Contemporary Art, 27 September – 30 September, 2018

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