You couldn’t have picked a worse spring morning to freeze (errr…stand) outside for hours with an artwork in your gloved hands. My extremities were stiff and frozen in the zero degree weather as I investigated the mass of people lining up to exhibit work at Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle’s open call for artists. As reported a few days ago, Kunsthalle is inaugurating its space with a massive showcase of all the art it can fit inside. When I arrived an hour before the doors were to set to open, I was astonished to see that the line to get in stretched nearly 3 kilometers. How long had these poor souls been waiting in this frigid climate? What did they seek to gain? Does Berlin have an oversupply of artists? So many questions, so little time.
Just a fraction of the crazy line this morning at Deustche Bank’s Kunsthalle. Photo: Chris Phillips
“My gallerist got here at 3am this morning to hold a spot for me,” reported the very chilly and very determined artist Jens-Ole Remmers. “I drove here from Hamburg and slept in the car overnight, only to start standing in line at 6 this morning.” Remmers was only one of over 2,000 artists who were braving the literally freezing Berlin weather this morning in hopes to exhibit work. Although the early birds strategically made a prompt appearance in the morning, some who came even three hours in advance were almost a block from the entrance. Surprisingly, as 10am rolled around people were still arriving in large numbers, not deterred at all by the colossal queue that lay before them.
Artist Christopher Damm, who proudly stood close to the front of the line. Photo: Chris Phillips
“I think that the people that are coming now won’t be able to get in,” explains Christopher Damm, an artist from Berlin who arrived around seven this morning. “If you are 1 km from the entrance right now you won’t show.” There were indeed some pretty pessimistic odds against latecomers, and I wondered if Kunsthalle envisioned that there would be this large of a turnout. I decided to venture further back in the line to see what was encouraging those towards the end to believe they still had a chance to get their work in.