While Berghain Is Closed, There’s Art on the Dance Floor

BERLIN — After the Berlin Wall got here down, in the early 1990s, artists and D.J.s descended on this seemingly lawless metropolis to arrange exhibitions and raves in cavernous empty buildings. Or, at the least, that was the (largely correct) cliché.

Since then, nevertheless, artwork areas right here have develop into much less about D.I.Y. and extra about real-estate growth and massive enterprise: Until not too long ago, the hottest dialog matters on the town had been runaway gentrification and an exodus of artists and golf equipment.

But that was earlier than the pandemic.

When Germany locked down in March, the famend techno membership Berghain closed, too, together with Berlin’s different nightclubs and theaters; the enormous traces hoping to get previous the famously picky bouncers disappeared, together with the no-cameras-allowed Arcadia of booming techno and writhing our bodies inside. Berlin’s visible artists had been grounded of their studios. The metropolis’s cultural heartbeat slowed.

By June, some museums and galleries had opened with restrictions, however nightclubs stay closed. Berghain’s reclusive house owners, Michael Teufele and Norbert Thormann, approached the outstanding collectors Christian and Karen Boros with an thought: Why not collaborate with a large-scale exhibition that includes native artists in the membership? Everyone was sport.

With so many such recent works, “Studio Berlin” is a snapshot of the here and now, and it’s also a declaration of both uncertainty and hope: On the building’s exterior are Rirkrit Tiravanija’s banner “Morgen ist die Frage” (“Tomorrow is the Question”) across the top of the facade and, propped against the exterior near the entrance, a sculpture by Dirk Bell, the thick steel rods of which spell the word “love” in interlocking letters.

With no bouncer at the door, visitors enter a soaring foyer and then must immediately apply a sticker to their cellphone camera lenses — the club’s no-photo policy continues, including for The New York Times — afterward, they’ll encounter a huge ocean buoy suspended from the ceiling. Called “Die Mimik der Tethys,” by the German artist Julius von Bismarck, the buoy sweeps up and down through the space. Connected via sensors to a buoy in the Atlantic Ocean and mirroring movements of the real sea, it sets the tone for a show that is big, and a little unpredictable.

Some art here reveals how polyglot Berlin’s post-Wall art scene has become since the 1990s. The dance floor’s famous sound system booms with a sound piece by the Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh — an aural pastiche of Lagos street noise, rather than thumping techno. High on the wall is a clock with created by the Syrian artist Khaled Barakeh; its hands move backward, perhaps counting down time until the pandemic is over.

Upstairs in the Panorama Bar, a part of the club where less driving music is usually played, the art is more sensitive and introspective. Hanging like an umbrella over part of the room is an oversize flower sculpture by the artists Petrit Halilaj and Álvaro Urbano (a couple who met in the club more than a decade ago). A video by Sven Marquardt, a heavily tattooed Berghain bouncer, shows scenes of quiet domesticity. Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, too, shows a series of Polaroids depicting flowers she bought each day during lockdown, an intimate musing on ephemerality.

Other pieces refer to Berghain itself: Cyprien Gaillard’s small stainless-steel engraving called “Land of Cockaign” blends in with the polished metal of the toilet stalls. A piece tracing paths on the floor in black lacquer is the work of the American artist Christine Sun Kim, and the lines represent how she, as a hearing-impaired person, moves through the club. A textured sculpture by the Turkish artist Nevin Aladag looks like a series of violently hammered indentations in a metal plate; the artist made it by dancing in high heels. And Verena Issel, a German artist, has transformed a dark passage into a junglelike installation, surrounding visitors in everyday objects — brooms, wine bottles, plastic cocktail glasses and brushes made to look like palm trees and jungle plants — which gives a disorienting feeling, like navigating the club.

Art pops up everywhere, in the club’s corners, hallways and stairwells, but “Studio Berlin” is most awe-inspiring in the Halle, a massive space in back of the club that only opens for special events. Inside, on two levels, is work by some of Berlin’s best-known artists, such as Olafur Eliasson, A.A. Bronson and Angela Bulloch, along with emerging ones, like the photographer Yero Adugna Eticha.

It’s also a vivid reminder of post-Wall Berlin’s history of innovative repurposing — once a power plant, then a club, then an exhibition space. In the best cases, this repurposing, temporary or not, reflects the art and music scenes’ community spirit: Standing in the Halle, I was reminded of a celebrated show called “36 x 27 x 10,” put on at short notice in 2005 in the Palast der Republik, the former East German Parliament building, after it had been emptied for demolition.

Source link Nytimes.com

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