The usual art fair comes with an integrated visual overkill effect. Booth after booth flanks the aisles, there are artworks everywhere, it’s often cramped, loud and flashy –seeking attention is key in a fair where selling is the sole aim.
Compared to that, we feel like this year’s abc art berlin contemporary was still very much an in-between of art fair and exhibition. The organizers stressed this at Thursday’s press conference: abc is still not an ordinary art fair. Sure, there is not really a curatorial or comprehensive concept, as in the past couple of years, that would qualify it to be an exhibition. But visitors did not find any overcrowded fair booths oversupplying them with offers and information. Instead, since galleries paid a flat rate per exhibited artist, they mostly showed solo presentations. This created an enjoyable atmosphere, similar to a large-scale group show, in which you stroll through various installations. In fact, around 60% of the shown works are installations and sculptures, most of them standing free and developing nice little correspondences with each other. For example, the bent leather sculptures by Carmelo Tedeschi at Xavier Laboulbenne form a nice entrée to the furniture sculptures by Marcel Frey.
As a company interested in the interrelationship of architecture and art, we had an extra look into the exhibition design by Manuel Raeder, who is also responsible for abc’s very first identity. It is one of the many factors that contribute to this feeling of openness. Raeder developed a modular design that is meant to be recyclable, thus sustainable, and that can be combined and altered in various ways. The basis is a regular scaffolding, that you would find on construction sites. Galleries were able to expand it with white walls, hoarding or video boxes. In some corners, this system feels a bit too rough, open and confusing, but we do appreciate the idea. Since abc is famous for reinventing itself every year, maybe next year’s exhibition design will further expand this concept. We can’t wait to find out.
by Niche Berlin