abc art berlin contemporary
              Tess Edmonson
              As with all art fairs, the advent of Berlin’s abc art berlin contemporary brings with it a smallish number of collectors and a torrent of platitudes, most of them having to do with how depressing it is to look at art as though shopping. I wonder if it might be productive, however, to confront the idea that any grouping of artworks—at an exhibition, a fair, or elsewhere—is just a mess of saleable objects, despite one’s best attempts, through critical discourses, to see them otherwise. Near to the fair’s entrance, for example, Berlin’s Galerie Neu has a presentation of works from Swedish-born local treasure Karl Holmqvist. The booth hosts four identically sized prints on square canvases bearing Holmqvist’s idiosyncratic caps-lock text (poetry?) in simple black block characters on white, maybe like a painting of an .rtf file. Untitled (J/O&D.I.E.) (2015) repeats the title’s parenthetical phrase in lengthy succession, while Untitled (GONEJ/OANDDIE) (2015) makes use of the same group of words in sequence with another: “GOINGGOINGGONE.” For all their simplicity, Holmqvist’s text prints reject an economy of language, using repetition and permutation to expand and multiply rich and slippery meanings. In Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, she writes (quoting poet Anne Carson in …
              abc art berlin contemporary
              Judith Vrancken
              The 7th edition of abc art berlin contemporary, as in previous years, embodies the event of exhibition rather than the collective buying and selling of art. As the fair’s organizers have prominently emphasized, this year includes a vast program of 40 performances, lectures, readings, sound works, films, and theater productions: the fair as a stage. Some of the exhibited works employ this analogy quite literally. Berlin’s Galerie Buchholz displays an actual stage by Julian Göthe. Black tubing outlines schematic shapes on a starkly white podium, creating architectural depth in its flat structure through a sort of trompe l’oeil effect. On the stage there are two black café chairs seemingly waiting for imaginary actors to sit on them. Or are these actors the visitors themselves? This question arises on several occasions. For example, for a fair, there is a remarkable number of large-scale installation pieces. However, instead of walking around them, the audience is often invited to walk through them, as in Kerim Seiler’s piece Relay (Situationist Space Program) (2012) at Grieder Contemporary, Zurich. The large, wood-and-steel, house-like construction was originally installed on the roof of the exclusive Crystal Hotel in St. Moritz. It shows a complex of sculptural objects that resemble functional …
              abc art berlin contemporary
              Kito Nedo
              Considering that Berlin’s abc art berlin contemporary is only in its sixth year of existence, it already has a colorful past. Established by a small group of Berlin-based galleries in 2008 as an alternative to the more traditional (and waning) Art Forum Berlin art fair, it is now the center of the so-called Berlin Art Week, but still struggling to define its inner balance between commercial and cultural ambitions. Case in point: the organizers continue to cautiously avoid the term “fair,” stressing the openness of the exhibition format instead. As the newly-appointed director Maike Cruse put it in an recent interview: “We still do not call abc an art fair as from the beginning it was our intention to develop an alternative more artist centered format and because we are a private initiative run by a small structure and tight budget and are not owned by a fair company or an investor.” In the past, abc did work with curators, such as Ariane Beyn (2008) or Marc Glöde (2011), but the engagement of Cruse marks another level of professionalization. The stamp of this former communications manager for Art Basel and sometime curator is instantly recognizable: Cruse gave the whole event, which …
              abc—art berlin contemporary
              Astrid Mania
              Many find the enigmatic or a little game of playing coy just irresistible. And what attracts people in humans also goes for, well, things arty. Why else would the question of whether abc—art berlin contemporary—is an art fair or not come up over and over again, since its foundation five years ago? This year’s opening press conference attempted to resolve this mystery once and for all: apparently, abc is a “new format” and a “private initiative,” or so say executive directors Alexander Schröder and Guido Baudach. In their words, abc is not a fair, as it is not embedded into a corporation or overarching fair organization. But regardless of whether it qualifies for the label “fair” or not—this year, abc is an attitude. It is a reflection, or rather a conjuring up of a particular Berlin spirit. Casual, cool, chaotic, international. Different. Being different is key to abc. Not only is its organizational structure distinct from that of a “proper fair,” but so are its appearance and its concept. Founded by nine Berlin-based galleries as an alternative to the art forum (Berlin’s contemporary art fair, which after a fifteen year-long run, called it quits last year), abc came in the guise …
              "About Painting"
              Ana Teixeira Pinto
              The fourth edition of the ABC (Art Berlin Contemporary) is fated to be the most contentious: the show is being held against the background of Art Forum Berlin’s demise—the city’s official art fair that has ceased to exist after negotiations to merge the two events collapsed. While ABC began as a response to discontent with Art Forum Berlin, the shows had coexisted for some years—Art Forum Berlin as a traditional art fair venue and ABC taking a more experimental approach. But now ABC stands as Berlin’s lone trade fair. Art Forum Berlin’s cancellation announcement squarely blamed the organizers of ABC, who are accused of not committing to a joint venture. Yet placing decisions over its future in the hands of a dissident group reveals the weakened position from which Art Forum Berlin entered the negotiations. Berlin has been debating whether this represents a drawback: however, pitching Art Forum Berlin as an “open,” democratic event against ABC’s elitism is a faulty argument. Art Forum Berlin produced as much exclusion as any other art fair—and the plethora of satellite venues surely indicated this. The real issue is rather how inclusion is managed—unlike an art fair, ABC has no peer review admission system, …
              art forum berlin & abc art berlin contemporary: "light camera action"
              Kirsty Bell
              Strolling through the landscaped gardens—past elegant fountains and late blooming roses—that connect the light drenched 1930s halls staging Berlin’s art forum art fair and the abc art berlin contemporary exhibition in the 1950 Marshall Haus pavilion, it was easy to forget the gallery politics that have until this year separated the two. abc was founded in 2008 by the founders of Berlin’s popular “Gallery Weekend” event as a concurrent rival to the art fair, challenging the need for such a conventional sales platform in a city which may be the European capital of art production, but is definitively not a center of art collection. The alternative they came up with—a baggy exhibition of art works selected by individual galleries according to a chosen theme and installed in a large hall—was riddled with awkward ambiguities. Though insisting on its status as an independent exhibition, it was in effect an art fair without the booth walls, with gallerists hovering uncertainly near the large-scale works they had paid to have installed there. In its third incarnation, abc’s rather disingenuous self-promotion as an experimental “free” exhibition format seems even more strained, despite the smartly chosen theme of the influence of film on contemporary art …

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