Too Big To Fail: Two Art Universities Unite!

Students from the two art universities in Berlin, the Universität der Künste and Kunsthochschule Weißensee, joined forces to create a visual discourse under the same roof. The result is Nachschlag – an exhibition held at Uferhallen in Wedding, presenting works from more than fifty young artists on its 2500sqm space.


Although this is not an official event organized by either of the institutions, it started as an incite by painting professors Werner Liebmann (Kunsthochschule Weißensee) and Valerie Favre (UdK) – both have studios at Uferhallen and have already been in charge of “Veilchen,” an exhibition with a similar concept presented in the same place a couple of years ago. Along with Robert Lucander (painting professor at UdK), this recent project was developed considering the importance for students to communicate and exchange experiences in a free environment where every artistic medium could be explored. Organized mainly by the students, the opening finally took place last Saturday after a four-week process (although one of the artists –we won’t mention any names – confessed to us having produced his piece two days prior!).

Space In Commotion

“For many students, the site-specific work was a new experience,” Henri Haake, artist and tutor of Lucander’s class, told us. “They tried to compare the ambience of the industrial hall with their own work. Many students just tried to do something different from their personal work, using huge canvases they couldn't work with in the university.”

Ufferhallen under the effects of Nachschlag's huge canvases. Photo: Chris Phillips

Uferhallen was formerly a horse depot and, after being restructured in 1926, it was used as a garage complex for Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe’s (BVG) vehicles until 2006. The space has motion in its history and it is inspiring artists to park their trains of thought. 

Soline Krug stands in front of her work. Photo: Chris Phillips

As an example of Haake’s reflections, the artist Soline Krug recounts her experience in appropriating the Ufferhallen: “This space was an amazing opportunity to start something new and get out of my comfort zone. Nachschlag gave me the kick to work more efficiently. In a sense, it was more time-specific than site-specific. Although I like the contrast between the cleanness/fragility of the work and this monster hall.”

The White Cube Knockout

With paintings, performances, installations and sculptures, the relevance of Nachschlag is to showcase what contemporary art promises from these young artists. Even with its lack of curatorial gesture – as the purpose is to present process and experimentation – the biggest link between the artworks is the willingness to manifest their presence and express visually what can’t be communicated with words. According to Haake, “The obvious aim was not to create a clean ‘white cube’ show, it was important for us to show the process of working to the viewer. We are all students, unfinished artists, so our expectations were just to create an interesting show and learn from each other.”

Performance by Olivia Carye-Hallstein. Photo: Chris Phillips

The result fulfills its function – it appears as more than just a naïve experiment. These young artists are not overwhelmed (yet) with the pressures of the art market and this weightlessness and unpretentious atmosphere seems to balance finely with the rough environment and strength of putting talents from big institutions together. For those who missed the opening, the show's finissage is a great chance to catch these artists in their process – a live boxing match is scheduled, certainly ending the event with a bang!

Article by Bel Borst