The Man Behind The Curtains: Exclusive Interview With Gallery Weekend’s Director

If we’ve learned anything from “The Wizard of Oz” or “The Matrix,” we know there’s always a mastermind controlling everything behind the scenes. Although Berlin’s Gallery Weekend sadly lacks a yellow brick road and bullet-dodging goths (that we know of), the massive art event definitely has someone pulling the strings. The man behind the curtains of the city’s biggest art weekend is Cédric Aurelle, whom we caught during his insane schedule to ask a few questions about Gallery Weekend. While he doesn’t promise flying monkeys or multiplying secret agents this weekend, he does confirm that it will be one hell of a ride!

How It All Goes Down

How can one man orchestrate such a massive endeavor like Gallery Weekend? Well with an equally massive team, of course! As Aurelle informs me, Gallery Weekend wasn’t instigated a few years ago by just one person but rather by a handful of galleries that united to answer one simple question: At what moment in the year should visitors come to Berlin?

“The project was [also] thought as an invitation to art lovers in general and collectors in particular to go back to the gallery space, to rescue it,” Aurelle explains. “It was thought as an alternative to the classical art fair, allowing one to experience art in a context for which this art exhibited was specifically conceived with an ambition of stressing how the gallery plays a very important role in the art market.” 

This raison d’être​ makes sense if you consider how plastic and stiff art fairs generally are. During our coverage of the Armory and Independent art fairs in New York, as well as Art Brussels, one of the biggest complaints we heard is how ruthlessly depersonalized and commercial the ventures can be. In contrast, if you walk along Weydingerstraße today in Mitte, where numerous top-tier galleries including BQ and Nature Morte are installing exhibitions, it feels more like a community rather than rival businesses.

With the idea of business in mind, however, I’m curious about how profit-oriented Gallery Weekend is, and if Aurelle thinks of the alternative events happening in the city as competition. “I would say it’s fine if every one uses the opportunity of the Gallery Weekend to make it [their] own project.” 

Curate Your Schedule

The possibility for visitors to curate their own program out of Gallery Weekend seems to be one of the shining characteristics of the coming weekend, according to Aurelle. He understands that seeing everything in all 51 galleries participating in the official fair is impossible. Instead, he encourage you to “Just make your own Gallery Weekend. You can find the most discussed nowadays painters, milestones of conceptual art, young hot artists, artists working beyond the art limits, dealing with design, architecture, or fashion.”

Here at BAPs we’ve stressed the importance of not getting crushed by the overwhelming number of events this weekend. We’ve given you our favorites, but if we can learn anything from Aurelle it’s that you should make your own! After all, with 51 official exhibitions and numerous alternative exhibitions, this weekend caters to nearly all art palates. Whether your cup of tea is Alicja Kwade at Johann König’s new church-cum-gallery or a pop-up exhibition with exciting Chinese artists at Mindpirates, this weekend will have it all.

And if you get hungry in between exhibitions or need a drink after a long day, Aurelle has got the places for you to. “The variety of restaurants is extensive. Go to the classics like Paris Bar and Grill Royal, give a try to Edd’s or Joseph-Roth-Diele around Potsdamer Strasse, or have a late night drink in Mitte at the Pauly-Saal or Bar3.” So keep that in mind both full-time and ephemeral residents of Berlin!

And don’t forget to check out our lists of the best official  and alternative exhibitions to visit this weekend. No way you can catch ’em all, so as Friday approaches, try remain calm and remember to catch up with us all weekend long for live updates and news during Berlin’s biggest art event all year. 

Article by James Shaeffer