Berlin, it is widely known, is a global centre of the “emerging” artist, even if said artist doesn’t emerge from his nightlife long enough to see the sun. And the city, now nearly profligate with pop-up project spaces, has decided to dedicate an entire summer month to nothing but. In what (in retrospect) seems a curiously belated move, Berlin celebrates its inaugural Project Space Festival Berlin, inviting 30 of these sites throughout the city to open their doors with a different surprise event scheduled for each day of August.
To open the festival, the Import Projects curatorial initiative screened Austrian artist Ursula Mayer’s contemporary art film, ‘Gonda’ (2012), written by Belfast-born writer Maria Fusco and partially shot in a real-life smoking volcano. The event, titled Vibration / Frequency / Substance, was followed by a conversation between Mayer and curator Nadim Samman, discussing the artist’s approach to narrative structure and notions of the “queer audience”. Despite the seeming abundance of art events on any given night in Berlin, the screening ran past capacity, dozens of nodding heads spilling out of the small room and straining to see amid mid-20s Berlin.
As with anything amalgamating 30 distinct artistic ideologies and practices, Project Space has the potential to be diverse at best, disjointed at worst. Following Import Projects’ Friday film screening, the festival’s opening weekend introduced Agora‘s ‘Stravaganza’, a group performance installation involving, among other things, a man in a billowy white dress that stretched across the Neukölln space’s garden, as well as tête‘s culinary art event, Hors d’œuvre: The Secondary Concern.
What follows is a curious line-up of “surprise” events in the festival’s opening week: a performative lecture on the current sound installation by Eva Kietzmann and Petra Kübert for uqbar; an evening of visuals and performances titled Preview Tableau Vivant at Grimmuseum; and the new (edible) works from multi-disciplinary artist and chef, Søren Aagaard, for Kinderhook & Caracas.
The festival’s second week brings a whole other slew of miscellaneous events with LEAP‘s
LMSTFU/Let Me Search That For You, an “internet search battle” accompanied by a BBQ and music by Nadav, Kleine Humboldt Galerie‘s exhibition on the historic architecture of the Berlin Agriculture College, titled raumbestandserhebung, as well a reinterpretation of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók’s last and unfinished work for the viola by artist Daniela Gugg for Lage Egal. The week rounds out with Ozean‘s Ocean Plays, inspired by the 1998 Italian drama, The Legend of 1900 and Archive Kabinett‘s discussion on art and feminism, geopolitics, and speculative futures between Caitlin Berrigan and Beirutopia photographer, Randa Mirza. At insitu, the first artist collaboration between Tobias Dostal and Ariel Schlesinger, Magic Tricks, promises “moments of deception and illusion”, while Center‘s Stoneroses group exhibition –include Sandra Vaka Olsen and Mirak Jamal –comes close to ending the month.
By mostly only revealing events for the first two weeks of the festival, Project Space forges ahead with an air of last-minute mystery. Some of the venues –such as the Selda Asal-founded Apartment Project (one of the first artist initiatives in Turkey) –have yet to announce their events, and all that’s left to go on is the promise of eclecticism laid along the conceptual platform of the project space.