The annual Berlin Art Week kicks off its eighth edition this week, with fairs and exhibition openings uniting culture vultures across the city. To top it all off, there is another celebration of togetherness coinciding with this year’s affair: the German capital is commemorating 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. To mark this very special week, galleries are pulling out all the stops, presenting work by homegrown art stars like Anne Imhof as well as international names such as Ryan Trecartin.
To help you navigate all there is to see, we’ve highlighted 11 must-see shows and events below.
“Micro Era. Media Art from China” at Kulturforum
WHAT: Chinese artist Cao Fei and Lu Yang have invited fellow artists Fang Di and Zhang Peili to participate in what has been deemed the first major presentation dedicated to Chinese media art in Berlin. The show is an offshoot of “29 Contemporary Artists From China,” presented at the Hamburger Bahnhof in 2001. But “Micro Era” dives deep into the digital realm, looking at how contemporary Chinese artists have responded to the economic, political, ideological, and technological transformation in China over the past 30 years.
WHERE: Kulturforum, Matthäikirchplatz, 10785 Berlin
WHEN: September 5–January 26, 2020
“Re’Search Wait’S” – Ryan Trecartin at Sprüth Magers
WHAT: American artist Ryan Trecartin’s video installations are known to interweave multiple threads into one very tripped-out narrative. His latest exhibition presents four new, interrelated films that tell the story of an imagined industry whose biggest commodity is personality traits. The gallery calls the new work a “‘tweenaged’ microcosm” of his well-known “Any Ever” series, which premiered at the MoMA PS1 in 2011 before going on a worldwide tour that brought the artist international recognition.
WHERE: Sprüth Magers, Oranienburgerstrasse 18, 10178 Berlin
WHEN: September 12–December 21, 2019
“Portraits” – Manuel Solano at Peres Projects
WHAT: Mexican artist Manuel Solano, who became blind after an HIV-related infection in 2014, continues to create vibrant, saturated, expressive paintings. After losing their sight, Solano (who uses gender-neutral pronouns) paints almost exclusively from memory, trusting his friends and other assistants to help fill in the details of his simple yet textured paintings. The artist describes their work as intimate, nostalgic, queer, and provocative. Their latest exhibition features a new series of portraits with vibrant backdrops that look like psychological color fields or auras.
WHERE: Peres Projects, Karl-Marx-Allee 82, 10243 Berlin
WHEN: September 13–October 25, 2019
“Melly Shum hates her job” at KLEMM’S
WHAT: You don’t have to step inside a gallery or museum to encounter art in Berlin this week. Work by the celebrated Canadian conceptual artist Ken Lum is on view on a billboard at Moritzplatz, one of the city’s more congested and rapidly developing intersections. Organized by Klemm’s in collaboration with Galerie Nagel Draxler, the billboard Melly Shum Hates Her Job offers catharsis for those with professional frustration. The work runs in parallel to a group show at the Klemm’s nearby, called “Form, Class & Beauty,” featuring work by Lum alongside artists Gabriele Beveridge, Viktoria Binschtok, and Ulrich Lamsfuss.
WHERE: KLEMM’S, Prinzessinnenstrasse 29, 10969 Berlin and Moritzplatz, Berlin
WHEN: Through September 21, 2019
“Adjacency” – Luke Willis Thompson at Nagel Draxler Kabinett
WHAT: The New Zealand-based artist and nominee for the 2018 Turner Prize, Luke Willis Thompson, puts social injustice in relief through his poignant film installations and performances. In his upcoming show, “Adjacency,” Thompson will turn his lens on police violence in the US through films that incorporate footage from the Civil Rights Movement.
WHERE: Nagel Draxler Kabinett, Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 33, 10178 Berlin
WHEN: September 14–November 2, 2019
“Imagine” – Anne Imhof at Galerie Buchholz
WHAT: German artist Anne Imhof is getting her first gallery show in Berlin, a somewhat belated accolade after she nabbed the Preis der Nationalgalerie in 2015 and took home the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion in 2017. But rather than unveiling one of the sexy, moody performances she has become known for, Imhof is presenting colorful abstract oil paintings of sunsets that become disorienting when hung vertically.
WHERE: Galerie Buchholz, Fasanenstrasse 30, 10719 Berlin
WHEN: September 13–October 26, 2019
“There is no nonviolent way to look at somebody” – Wu Tsang at Gropius Bau
WHAT: A rich trove of films by Los Angeles-based artist Wu Tsang will be brought into dialogue with her lesser-known sculptural practice, which is built on the interaction of light, text, and glass. The exhibition includes a new stained glass work especially commissioned for the Gropius Bau.
WHERE: Gropius Bau, Niederkirchnerstrasse 7, 10963 Berlin
WHEN: September 4, 2019–January 12, 2020
Preis der Nationalgalerie 2019 Shortlist Exhibition at Hamburger Bahnhof
WHAT: The tenth edition of Germany’s prestigious and career-making prize for young artists will be awarded on September 12. The international jury has nominated four Germany-based artists who make very different work: Simon Fujiwara, Flaka Haliti, Pauline Curnier Jardin, and Katja Novitskova. Each one has debuted new work at the Hamburger Bahnhof in an effort to take home the prize.
WHERE: Hamburger Bahnhof, Invalidenstrasse 50-51, 10557 Berlin
WHEN: August 16, 2019–February 16, 2020
“Horizontal Vertigo” – WangShui at the Julia Stoschek Collection
WHAT: For its first European solo exhibition, the amorphous art studio WangShui has created hallucinatory moving-image installations including Gardens of Perfect Exposure, in which silk worms work away on a small metallic landscape. In another room, the studio has brought a magnificent, flickering LED screen typically used for skyline advertisements indoors, giving viewers a chance to get up close to an object that typically towers overhead. Walking up to it, with pieces of mica crunching under your feet, feels like an almost holy experience.
WHERE: Julia Stoschek Collection Berlin, Leipzigerstrasse 60, 10117 Berlin
WHEN: September 12–December 15, 2019
The New Infinity / New Art for Planetariums in Kreuzberg
WHAT: After a successful first run last year, the Berliner Festspiele returns for Berlin Art Week with a mobile dome housing new work by Metahaven and the 2017 Preis der Nationalgalerie winner Agnieszka Polska. Assorted live programming will be held for two weeks inside the dome, which is installed in Kreuzberg’s Mariannenplatz.
WHERE: Berliner Festspiele, Mariannenplatz, 10997 Berlin
WHEN: Through September 16, 2019
“Off Kedzie“ at Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi
WHAT: American artist and poet Diamond Stingily uses simple materials like hair, worn doors, and baseball hats to explore racial identity and gender. September promises to be a big month for the artist in Germany: a week after her show at Isabella Bortolozzi, she will open a solo presentation at Kunstverein Munich.
WHERE: Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Schöneberger Ufer 61, 10785 Berlin
WHEN: September 17–November 2, 2019