IC spoke with Artistic Directors Karen Boros and Juliet Kothe (director of the Boros Foundation) in the lead up to the highly seductive and anticipated STUDIO BERLIN – Boros’ new project in collaboration with Berghain.
Tomorrow – Wednesday 9 September – is the opening day of STUDIO BERLIN and the project aligns with an action packed week in Berlin, with its Art Week, the newly opened Berlin Biennale and also Gallery Weekend Berlin. At this stage, STUDIO BERLIN runs through until the end of the year, with a possible extension according to our pandemic.
In the STUDIO BERLIN exhibition, the Boros Foundation is presenting works from 117 contemporary artists, who live and work in Berlin. The exhibition is external to the Boros Collection and very much presents a current snapshot, as if it were its own ecosystem, placing together national and international artworks of very young, to emerging and established Berlin positions, inside the much loved techno club. The exhibition, organised by the Boros Foundation, will take place in Berghain, Panorama Bar, Säule and Halle, even including a mark from the famous inked gate-keeper Sven Marquardt. Wolfgang Tillmans, an artist who has had his work exhibited from the very beginning of the Berghain days and who partied at the Boros Bunker when it was a club, also presents new works. The very young and new positions to look out for, currently exciting amongst the Berlin scene include Zuzanna Czebatul, Hannah Sophie Dunkelberg, Richard Kennedy, Cosima zu Knyphausen, Sandra Mujinga, Puppies Puppies and Anna Uddenberg.
To visit STUDIO BERLIN, the booking system is completely seperate to the Boros Collection and is handled by Berghain through the STUDIO BERLIN website. Just as the very personal and unique viewing experiences to be had at the Boros Collection, guided tours for STUDIO BERLIN are given by the mediation team of the Boros Bunker, as well as the Berghain staff – the bouncers, bar tenders & even the security, who are all very excited to have work once again in their stomping ground. This offers a very special and insider experience, where you might even recognise a few faces.
To offer a quote from Christian Boros, which sums up all reasoning behind this artistic engagement inside a sacred club: “all over the world, Berghain is known as the ultimate place of freedom”.
Following is our interview with Karen and Juliet:
Studio Berlin offers a new public platform inside Berghain – the holy grail of nightclubs – to over 100 artists living and working in Berlin. What are you most excited about for this project?KAREN BOROS & JULIET KOTHE
The project emerged out of unexpected and unpredictable situation that no one could have ever imagined. The new focus onto the local art scene in Berlin because of these circumstances is one beneficial aspect of the new situation. We dived into the incredible richness of artistic production in our city: we visited an enormous number of studios within 8 weeks and met with most artists. The result of this intense confrontation with the local though international artists is this exhibition, dedicated to all the artist and this city.
The production of this large-scale event, further during pandemic pressures, would have been intensive. What were some of the biggest challenges that you and the team faced in the process?KAREN BOROS & JULIET KOTHE
Producing the exhibition within a time span of three and a half months. We did not have a huge team or planning period, we just started, and everything went parallel. Then we were keen on showing works referencing these times, which means we will show mostly very recent works. Some of them were finished last minute, some of them technically challenging. So speed was an essential component of being able to set up the whole thing.
As well as creating the possibility for new artistic exposure aligned with a legendary location, you have created new job opportunities for many arts workers in Berlin. The Boros Collection is world famous for its mediation and tours that are booked out months in advance. How can the public visit Studio Berlin and what can be expected inside Berghain?KAREN BOROS & JULIET KOTHE
We believe in the communication about art in a very authentic, personal and individual sense. When art mediators exchange with guests it shouldn’t all sound like a repletion of general ideas but of how one personally senses the approach of different artists. That’s why we have a diverse team of artists, designers, art historians. There is no wrong or right in opinions about art works. Art is free. As much in its production as in its meaning. This is why we stay primarily with the idea of guided tours. On the weekend people can book slots, to walk around themselves.
The visitors, not even the artists are allowed to take pictures. This will lead to the rare exception that people have to explain what they saw rather than sliding on the iPhone. You can’t see the exhibition on Instagram that mostly just anticipates the real experience and encounter with art.
What has been your curatorial approach to such a massive & industrial space?KAREN BOROS & JULIET KOTHE
Rather than speaking about curation we tried to be empathetic to the space and the works and how they could work together. Especially the former dancing areas transformed into something else without the usual darkness, noise and the density of people. You start realizing how ornamental these clubs are, you see colors and interiors that are pretty much invisible to you at night. All the spaces have different energies. We wanted the works to merge with the individual spatial circumstances in a natural, raw, unforced way. We left everything as it is and didn’t add any walls or in situ architecture. We didn’t just want to use the space or take anything away from it.
On the Studio Berlin website, included is that performance as an artistic field will be on view. Who can we expect to see or how exactly is this taking shape?KAREN BOROS & JULIET KOTHE
We hope to try to set a performance and screening program as soon as the exhibition is installed. We hope circumstances will allow us to do so. The exhibition now mostly shows sculptural and installation works, video- and audio works, painting, drawings and photography though we have works referencing to performative happenings.
Are the artworks presented for sale?KAREN BOROS & JULIET KOTHE
The works belong to the artists.
What are your comments on recent press surrounding Berlin in terms of a changing art landscape in regards to the Art Week closure, exists of private collections & to quote the ArtReview headline “The Berlin Art Scene: Dead and Alive”?KAREN BOROS & JULIET KOTHE
It’s a pretty naïve statement, meaning that in order to release such statement you ignore the density, richness of Berlin: A year ago we and other private collections launched the Collection Night, revealing that there is a wider collector’s potential than everyone things. Even though a few private collections closed their houses to the public or left the city – and by the way by very different and individual reasons – it doesn’t mean Berlin will lose any of its potential. Where else can you better exist as an artist than in Berlin? There is no alternative although space gets rarer and more expensive. The artist is the source for all art infrastructures and economies surrounding them. Berlin is not dead, it is rather the Powerhouse of European contemporary art production.
For Studio Berlin, you are exhibiting a great range of young to established positions in Berghain – even university professors & student constellations. Do you see a potential for a shift in the hierarchical structures and value systems in terms of the inclusion of artistic positions represented in galleries & presented in institutions/museums?KAREN BOROS & JULIET KOTHE
The art field is as competitive as any other field. To have a good gallery, exhibit in museums and work on a high production level or large-scale you have to mostly already have a career. A career in art is mostly connected to a university career, which is the one of the most essential aspects of inclusion of the art field if you look at research. To claim the art field is non-hierarchal would be a lie.
Studio Berlin represents an amazing current moment in time, and can also refer back to a pivotal moment of the Boros bunker history, when in the 90s, it was the worlds hardest techno club. How do you (Karen, Christian & Juliet) and Berghain feel about this?KAREN BOROS & JULIET KOTHE
We don’t want to look back in time and bring about the 90ies. We feel that there is a again a sense of community amongst artists, musicians, performers but it is with a strong awareness of the fragility of the system and the importance of respect and care for each other in this difficult time.
Was there anything in your concept that Berghain said no to, or something that they absolutely wanted to include?KAREN BOROS & JULIET KOTHE
There was a mutual understanding of the no-gos.
Are the new young and emerging talents included in Studio Berlin a reflection of what can be expected for the next hang in the Boros Bunker?KAREN BOROS & JULIET KOTHE
Whilst on our studio visits we came across a number of young talented artists that we will continue to observe for sure. And everything else will be revealed when the time is there.