A huge buoy, floating up and down in the entrance hall between the column and the steel staircase. A giant flower in Panorama Bar. A small jungle of everyday objects in the corridor: where once there was dancing in Berghain, now (even more) art can be seen. On Wednesday, September 9th, the exhibition ‘Studio Berlin’ opened. A collaboration between Berghain and the Boros Foundation, which manages the Boros private collection. In addition to the famous bunker in Mitte, there’s now a second, temporary exhibition space.
This was a bittersweet decision; classic ‘virtue out of necessity’ prudence. Due to the ban on dancing and heavy restrictions on club operations, the world-famous techno temple in Friedrichshain stands empty. The exhibition was created to fill it with life.
Art by the likes of Wolfgang Tillmans, Olafur Eliasson, Tacita Dean and Isa Genzken will be shown in the former heating plant. The show is planned for an indefinite period of time — nobody knows how long it will be before those legendary techno sessions can take place again.
Works by around 80 artists from Berlin will be exhibited. This in itself is exciting news; for some it will be the first opportunity to explore the cavernous interior of the club with the notoriously strict door policy. According to The Art Newspaper — the publication spoke to collector Christian Boros — they’ve been working on ‘Studio Berlin’ since March.
In contrast with the sound installation ‘tamtam’, which ran in Halle am Berghain a few weeks ago, tickets for Studio Berlin can be booked online in advance.
For Berghain, the new use of its space, for an indefinite period of time, is a pragmatic response to the current situation. While it’s progress that a few hundred people (400 max) are now also allowed to drink and dance in the garden — at weekends when the weather is good — in compliance with a few rules (which the authorities have thoroughly scrutinised), this doesn’t put much money in the till.
And it will probably remain that way for a while: for clubs, the outlook is particularly bleak. Appropriate distancing measures are virtually impossible to maintain on the kind of dark, sweaty dance floors for which Berlin is famous.
Other clubs have also been looking for alternative models in recent months. Wilde Renate opened its rooms for the immersive art exhibition ‘Overmorrow’, while at ://about blank, an artistic collaboration between party series Buttons and Pornceptual was organised. Throughout the city, creative ways of promoting not only the clubs, but the cultural scene of the capital, have sprung up. And illicit raves have resurfaced in parks and remote bunkers as people seek their hedonism elsewhere.
Those who know their stuff will understand that Berghain has always been about more than extreme partying. From the sugar sculptures of Joseph Marr in the ‘Klobar’ to the photography of Wolfgang Tillmans that adorn the Panorama Bar (including the legendary naked asshole), the club has always been an exhibition space. It also partners the annual CTM festival.
The symbiotic union between techno and art was celebrated with the exhibition ‘10 Jahre Berghain’ in 2014, and with the production ‘Masse’ — a collaboration between the Berlin State Ballet and Berghain DJs — under the art direction of Nobert Bisky.
For the new exhibition, Berghain sought help from a duo who know more than anyone about exhibiting art in a bunker: Karen and Christian Boros house their private contemporary collection in a converted WWII bunker in Mitte. And they bring the curatorial expertise behind Studio Berlin.
The range of works is to extend from photographs to sculptures and performances. And, as usual, no photos can be taken inside. The proceeds are to secure the operation of Berlin’s most hallowed club — so we can dance again when this is all over.
Works by the following artists will be exhibited at Studio Berlin:
Yero Adugna Eticha
Julius von Bismarck
Hannah Sophie Dunkelberg
Elmgreen & Dragset
Petrit Halilaj & Alvaro Urbano
Calla Henkel & Max Pitegoff
Cosima to Knyphausen
Willem de Rooij
Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld
Christine Sun Kim
Viron Erol Vert
According to the website, the list is ‘to be continued…’ — so more artists may follow.
Club culture in Berlin is about so much more than empty hedonism. Dance venues such as Neukölln’s Griessmühle — which inspired a mass outpouring of public support when it lost its Sonnenallee home earlier this year — have become symbols of the tolerance, creativity and freedom for which Berlin stands.
Original article by Sebastian Scherer
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