As part of Berlin Art Week 2014, with its plethora of openings and events at galleries, project spaces and art museums, the first edition of POSITIONS opened its doors.
Taking place at the former Kaufhaus Jahndorf on Brunnenstraße, POSITIONS is focusing on successful smaller Berlin based galleries, like fruehsorge contemporary drawings or lorch+seidel contemporarylorch+seidel contemporary, and a number of national and international art galleries as well as three German art schools and their selected projects. With 52 exhibitors from 8 nations on two floors of the beautiful old shopping temple, accompanied by some talks and events as well as a video lounge, the quality of works on display is of a varying degree.
Among the most convincing presentations are the booths of galleries from Leipzig like Galerie Kleindienst and maerzgalerie, which stand out both in their selection of artists as well as the way the works are displayed. The Leipzig-based artists of ART N MORE (Paul Bowler, Georg Weißbach, Valentin Just) are presenting a humorous take on the nature of art fairs with a booth fully carpeted, with wallpaper, a video and a neon-light work as well as some paintings. The neon work reads MANET, MONET, MONEY in the colours of the tricolore while the video is showing the artists having fun with seemingly un-artistic activities like pillow fights or boarding a plane.
Of the international galleries it is balzer art projects Basel/Switzerland, Frantic Gallery Tokio/Japan and Son Espace Gallery Palafrugell/Spain, which are presenting the most interesting artists from abroad. Japanese artist Macoto Murayama is showing large-scale digital c-prints of computer generated renderings of plants, a kind of herbarium for the 21st century. Norwegian artist Morten Viskum presents a disturbing ensemble of two life size human figures, a beggar and an art collector, in the hyperrealist style of American sculptor Duane Hanson, along with a modified photograph and one if his “Viskum Boxes”, which are collections of miniature drawings and found objects related to the life of the artist. A real discovery is the presentation of works by Slovakian artist Svätopluk Mikyta by Emmanuel Walderdorff Galerie, Molsberg/Germany. Two vitrines displaying objects from a 1970s hotel in Bratislava, drawings on torn out book pages and an ensemble of small mixed media works present an examination of a both real and fictional past between totalitarian Communism and avant-garde Suprematism.
A very refreshing and spacious presentation within the rather cramped booths comes from the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach, showing works by recent graduates Xenia Lesniewski, Florian Schoek and Sven Prothmann.
All in all, POSITIONS seems a worthy successor to Berlin’s former alternative art fair PREVIEW but it still needs to find its way. For the next edition, the selection and number of participating galleries should be reconsidered and some of the rather random presentations by art magazines, universities and book shops in the ground floor entrance area could be rearranged, making way for that which has sometimes a bit too little space in the upstairs maze of booths: the art.
18th to 21st September 2014
Kaufhaus Jahndorf, Berlin