The Ins, Outs & Whatevers Of Berlin

Don’t you hate it when you visit a city and some things just don’t live up to the hype? Every summer, Berlin opens its arms to millions of tourists hoping to discover the excitement, wonder, art and culture that the city by the Spree has to offer. If you’re one of these pilgrims, try not to leave disappointed: like other metropolises, we have destinations and events that are in, out or simply whatever. The BAPs team has you covered in a new segment where we tell you what’s hot, what’s not, and what doesn’t really matter!


What's In:

Kader Attia at KW:

At KW Institute for Contemporary Art, the French-Algerian artist Kader Attia has one of the best exhibitions we’ve seen this year. At at an institution like KW, with its history of great shows, why should we be surprised? The artist has separated KW’s hallways into a miraculous labyrinth that explores the dark history of European colonialism in Africa. He doesn’t harp on clichés and try to make audiences feel guilty but rather illustrates the issue through beautiful sculptures, interesting videos, and a playful bird mimicking the sounds of a video camera. Trust us, it’s worth the visit!

Berlin Fashion Week:

Coming next month is Berlin Fashion week and if there’s anything that we learned about Berlin vogue is that it’s not to be missed. While the city is usually cast in the shadow of the fashionista style of Paris or London, this is your chance to really dig what the city has to offer. Beyond the latest fads and crazes, you can also see fashion shows that feature some eco-friendly and ethically crafted clothes for the conscious consumer.

Kapoor's gigantic red sun surrounded by the corpses of a thousand wax sculptures. Photo: Kostis Lieros

Anish Kapoor at Martin Gropius Bau:

A giant red sun, a colossal red bell slowly getting carved out of wax, and a canon shooting blood red goo at a wall. If that doesn’t sound like an exhibition you’d like to visit, maybe it’s time to get your head examined. The Indian artist currently shows off some of his latest titanic works at one of the most historically significant museums in the city. While it may seem like a factory from hell at first, some of his older works are just as light hearted and fun as a Berlin summer day and is sure to be a highlight of your trip.

What's Out:

Imran Qureshi at Deutsche Bank:

While he won the coveted prize of Artist of the Year, Imran Qureshi unfortunately doesn’t meet our expectations with a very boring show at the Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle. Large, gold leaf paintings splattered with red paint, a giant pile of crumpled up posters and small paintings hung in dark rooms may sound great. In reality, however, it’s all pretty underwhelming. And not to be too picky, but it’s pretty tacky to hear an overly dramatic interview with the artist blaring from the Kunsthalle’s gift shop when you’re trying to look at the art.

You'll sure to be disappointed by the pile of bloody trash Qureshi gives you at DBK. Photo: Chris Phillips

Gallery Summer Hours in Berlin:

While we appreciate that everyone needs a vacation, unfortunately most galleries are closed when Berlin sees its highest amount of visitors. Internationally, the art world takes a break between June and August because, hell, it’s a stressful lifestyle! But when people from across the globe finally have a chance to visit the center of the art world, they’re unfortunately greeted by mediocre group shows that you can only see by appointment. Some New York galleries have caught up with the times and have increased opening hours to Sundays and having openings during the summer – come on, Berlin.

Neue Nationalgalerie Permanent Collection:

Rothko, Newman, Warhol, etc. etc. etc. You’ve seen them all thousands of times and you know what to expect before you’re even in front of one. When you come to Berlin, save yourself from seeing the common mundanity of a permanent collection and see what’s new and exciting in the galleries or residencies within the city. With an underwhelming collection you can save the Abstract Expressionists for another time.

What's Whatever:

Eastside Gallery:

Even though the longest remaining strip of the Berlin Wall has come into the news recently due to it’s partial destruction for an apartment complex, visitors still go out of their way to see the art that remains on the city’s most notorious public sculpture. I’m sure that if this is your first time in Berlin, this may be at the top of your list – but don’t rush to see it and if you miss it, who cares. While perhaps one of the most historically significant parts of the city, the murals on its façade are not the original paintings from 30 years ago. Furthermore, let’s not forget that the most interesting parts about Berlin’s art scene are actually happening next door at RaW Tempel!

Thinking about going to the Eastside Gallery? Just skip it! Photo: Chris Phillips

Body Pressure at Hamburger Bahnhof:

Hamburger Bahnhoff may hold the title as one of the most exciting art museums in the city, its newest exhibition, Body Pressure, just doesn’t cut it. We’re not saying it’s bad: artists like Paul McCarthey and Tino Sehgal present amazing works. Yet Body Pressure doesn’t come close to enticing viewers the same way that the current Martin Kippenberger exhibit does in another wing of the museum. If you’re going to pay the fee to get into the museum – make sure it’s for Kippenberger or Beuys and not because of this!

Peter Saul at VW:

Peter Saul is an artist either you love to hate or hate to love. His cartoonish paintings range from surreal psychedelia to institutional critique and has polarized art enthusiasts for decades. His recent show at VW isn’t an exception as everyone I’ve known to have visited the exhibition either recommended it or wanted to gauge their eyes out. As far as we think, this is probably an exhibition that you can just skip. Once you’ve seen one painting by Peter Saul, you’ve seen them all. 

Article by James Shaeffer