With Nightlife Shuttered, the Legendary Berghain Nightclub Is Turning Its Dance Floor Into a Showcase of 80 Berlin-Based Artists

The notorious nightclub is partnering with the Boros Foundation, one of the city's most renowned art collections.

Visitors listen to a sound installation at Berghain club in July 2020. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Berlin’s creative spirit is hard to beat down. 

Despite a lockdown and a summer without the usual carousel of art events and DJ sets at nightclubs—one of the German capital’s main draws—the city is finding ways to keep its cultural pulse alive in imaginative ways. And now, one of Berlin’s most renowned collections, the Boros Foundation, is partnering up with its most famous nightclub, Berghain.

This novel collaboration, called “Studio Berlin,” will launch on September 9 in the midst of the annual Berlin Art Week and on the eve of the city’s Gallery Weekend. The works of 80 contemporary artists, including major names like Olafur Eliasson, Cyprien Gaillard, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rosemarie Trockel, and Isa Genzken, will be on view at the club. The exhibition will sprawl over Berghain’s three main dance floors and will maintain a focus on artists who live and work in Berlin—at least some of the time.

The joint effort is an attempt to support both the nightclub scene and the city’s many artists, both of which have suffered under the lockdown and resulting economic slump. Nightclubs may have to increasingly dream up alternative models for engaging the public; in Germany, all of its renowned party locations have been closed since mid-March. Amid a steeply rising number of infections in the country, reopening is unlikely to come anytime soon.

“Studio Berlin” will cast a wide net in terms of styles, spanning photography, sculpture, painting, multimedia installations, and sound pieces. Alongside blue-chip artists, the show will also include a younger generation of stars like Anne Imhof, Klara Lidén, Robin Rhode, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Raphaela Vogel, who all partially or fully reside in the German capital. (The full artist list is set to be released on Friday, August 14.)

This is not the first time that Berghain has branched into visual art. Artists like Norbert Bisky and Wolfgang Tillmans have commissions on view there, though the works are rarely documented, given the club’s strict no-photo policy. Since the lockdown, the club has also hosted a few events, including a sound installation by artists Sam Auinger and Hannes Strobl, under the creative name TamTam, with full social distancing in effect.

“Berlin has the highest density of ateliers, studios, and art workshops in Europe—artists from all over the world move to the German capital to work,” the “Studio Berlin” website states. The Boros collection declined a request for comment ahead of the artist release on Friday.

The club’s notoriously strict door policy is not likely to be loosened up—if only due to strictly enforced health measures. Guided tours in several languages may be be booked online. The project is being support by the Boros Foundation and by the Berlin Senate.

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