Exhibitors Make Bold Statements With Unique Booths at Art Berlin Contemporary
abc has grown to become the city's leading art fair.
With around 100 participating galleries from 17 countries, Art Berlin Contemporary (abc) has developed into the city’s premier fair. While abc operated on an invitation-only format in the past, this nnear, organizers opened the fair to applicants for the first time, bringing some interesting newcomers into the mix—both from within Germany and from further afield.
The main event got underway yesterday at Station Berlin, a former postal depot in the city center. VIP’s and members of the press browsed the exhibitors booths and exhibitions, with mega collector Patrizia Sandretto re Rebaudengo meticulously combing the fair for the better part of the morning and afternoon.
As a new feature this year, the fair presented a special curated exhibition featuring thirty works from fourteen Berlin-based private collections. In a large and dark, dimly-lit hall, curator Nikola Dietrich compiled works by Giovanni Anselmo, Heimo Zobering, Manfred Pernice, John Knight, and many others.
abc has long struggled with the idea of calling itself an art fair, and that reluctance was again reflected in the architecture: galleries could book corners rather than walled spaces, giving the hall a pleasantly airy feel, with only a hint of territoriality. Some exhibitors also made their own statements on the market model.
One of the most innovative and interesting booths belonged to Berlin-based gallery Societé. The gallery asked some of their artists, such as Bunny Rogers and Timur Si-Qin, to create a range of merchandise and have practically transformed their allotted space into a kiosk selling catalogues, T-shirts, jackets and even perfume.
“We wanted to do something different, not show art in the traditional sense,” gallerist Daniel Wichelhaus told artnet News.
Elsewhere, works by Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin attracted considerable interest at Sprüth Magers. According to the gallery’s press representative Silvia Baltschun, the center piece, a sculptural collaboration between the artists, was priced at $80,000, while a much-Instagrammed series of prints by Trecartin was priced between $18,000 and $45,000.
Galerie Neu reported strong sales for works by the Norwegian artist Yngve Holen. His marble sculptures were priced at €24,000 ($27,130) a piece. The artist electronically scanned slabs of meat and replicated the pieces from the stone.
Co-owner Alexander Schröder was pleased with the opening day’s sales. “The fair makes a good impression,” he said. “It’s a very Berlin-specific format that doesn’t only want to be an art fair but also a presentation space for artists.”
This sentiment was echoed by Jonathan Ellis King, of the Dublin-based Ellis King gallery, who brought an installation by the much-hyped, 23-year-old Algerian artist and Goldsmiths graduate Lydia Ourahmane. “We like to come to Berlin because there’s no commercial pressure,” he said. “Its more of a platform for presentation.”
Beijing galley Magician Space showed an impressive floor piece by Ai Weiwei in association with local gallery Neugerriemschneider. Director Billy Tang said it was the gallery’s first time in the German capital. “Were interested in pushing out an international dialogue and Berlin offers something different to Frieze and Basel.” He added, “we’re visiting friends, and are looking to forge new connections with curators and institutions.”
Uli Sigg, the Swiss mega-collector of Chinese contemporary art was amongst the collectors looking for a bargain in Berlin. “The art is more affordable [in Berlin] than elsewhere, apart from the big names,” he explained. “There’s also a very broad variety of art, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy here.”
Klaus Malonek, director of the Düsseldorf gallery Sies + Höke, which showed beautiful paintings by the Costa Rican artist Federico Herrero, told artnet News “we posted a photo of one of the works on Instagram several days before the fair and sold it within ten minutes for $19,000 to a collector in New York.”
Following a successful opening day, abc is sure to attract more visitors this weekend with a varied talks program, including panel conversation with Chus Martinez and Chris Dercon.
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