Maike Cruse (c) Wolfgang Stahr

Maike Cruse (c) Wolfgang Stahr


 
The director of abc and Gallery Weekend Berlin shares her experience of Berlin and its identity as an international art center, the specific qualities of the city reflected in the format of abc, and the upcoming highlights of abc 2016.
 

 
What differentiates Berlin’s art scene from that of other notable capitals? What are your observations on the current moment? Have you noticed any artistic undercurrents?
Berlin is the world capital of artists. Galleries have followed the artists, in the meantime making Berlin one of the most interesting gallery hotspots of the world. Production is here, and the discourse is here, which makes it a notably content-driven scene. The current DIS-curated Berlin Biennial presents one of the most current discourses in contemporary art. The venues like the Akademie der Künste and the former GDR Building, the Staatsratsgebäude, are quite special, but also typical for Berlin. The most intriguing part for me was the discovery of many new artists; this is also one of the qualities of Berlin: you never stop learning, always meeting new people due to the city’s permanent circulation. We are excited that the Berlin Biennial is still on display during abc and that they have organized a great program with talks, performances and screenings during these days.
 
Aside from points scored for Berlin’s perpetual cool, and the fact that rents are still relatively low, what is it about this city that creates potential for artistic growth and continued relevance? 
One of Berlin’s key attributes is the freedom and openness of the city — no doubt related to the specifics of its economy, including low rents and available studios and apartments, but also due to the history and the processual quality found in the city. Nothing seems finished, done, or absolutely regulated. Artists remain very present in the city, and not only at the galleries: there are numerous projects being organized by young artists, curators, designers and architects, as well as others working outside of these creative fields.
 
It is commonly perceived that art fairs are merely glamorous events that don’t necessarily showcase the most interesting content-driven art being produced. How do you see this?
We rather function the other way around: galleries participate at abc if they have a project in their program which is appropriate to the current format of abc, so it is in fact absolutely content driven. This appeals to galleries and their artists, as the focus is on the artists work; it is also especially exciting for visitors, as they are enabled to explore the presented artistic positions in greater depth. At the same time, they can enjoy the city and the specific Berlin glamour: Berlin loves to celebrate and party, and is populated with people who stage themselves in the most fanciful ways. Altogether, when you take in abc, a visit to the Berlin Biennial, seeing the Gemäldegalerie’s exhibition on the Velázquez era or the new Berlin outpost of the Julia Stoschek Collection — and let’s not forget Berlin’s food and nightlife — something is created that you could describe as a glamorous content-driven Berlin experience.
 
What are certain highlights of the program you’d like to share?
There are so many highlights – especially works currently in production that we are eagerly anticipating finally seeing by artists such as Laure Provoust, Saadane Afif, Daniel Knorr, Sean Snyder and Berta Fischer —ask me again during the installation! I am especially excited about our new special guest program put together by Niche Berlin, presenting exclusive performances and walks with artists such as Alonah Rodeh, Ariel Reichmann, Erwin Wurm and others. The artists will present an eclectic array of events to selected guests, introducing them to aquarium curators and fire fighters, preparing tea for them or serving sausages, inviting them to private movie premieres, hosting surprise lunches, preparing intimate collection visits, and more.