The Facets of the Berlin Art Scene

My time in Berlin is really flying 🙁 Despite everyone warning me, expecting it and feeling it are two very different things. I’m still making the most out of my time, always trying to stay busy, but I experienced my first burnout this week and decided to spend a night in for some r&r and self-care, which I’m glad I did. This week started off with a visit to the last venue in the Berlin Biennale, which my co-workers had warned me dealt with graphic and serious content. I’ve found that so much of the art in Berlin is highly political and makes hard-hitting critiques about society, countries, war, capitalism, etc. As a city, Berlin feels highly progressive and is consistently making strides in conversation and education about problems locally, nationally, and internationally, as well as current and historical.

ZauharV10, Installation by Zach Blas at Hamburger Bahnhof

Once a month, my company does an artist talk at the Soho House here in Berlin. Typically, these artist talks will mesh with our monthly themes, but with the Biennale they decided to feature an artist from the Biennale, Elske Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld was born in Germany and was fifteen years old when the wall fell. Her art form incorporates videos, the idea of gestures, and her personal understanding and interpretation of what the fall of the wall truly meant. After the talk, my company uses the rest of its budget to get drinks or a meal at Soho House with a few guests, and my boss invited me along since this would be my only opportunity. We were able to sit at the rooftop restaurant where a pop-up sushi restaurant was serving dinner. I was able to eat some amazing food and drinks in the company of my coworkers and the artist herself, all while a surprise DJ set by Kaytranada played. This is one of my top moments so far that I will never forget.

ZauharV11, View from Soho House rooftop

This week I dove deeper into the Berlin art scene, and I was able to see different attendee factions. So far, most of the art openings I’ve been to draw what one might consider being a typical crowd; artsy and classy, but the events that I went to this weekend unlocked a whole new part of the art scene to me. First, I went to an exhibit called Subvertising, which focuses on guerilla advertising and capitalist propaganda through advertisements. The scene was very hard-core, punk and alternative. It was one of my favorite exhibits so far, and the following day also showed me a new favorite venue. At Floating University, which is an amazing and serene outdoor space with a bog, they had their third installation of gossipgossipgossip. These events focus on how gossip has historically changed from a positive form of communication and instead seen as a negative system that demonizes and pits women against each other. The crowd that this event attracted was more free-spirited and “hippie.” People were walking around without shoes and the toilets were outhouses that individuals flushed with collected rainwater. It was great to see the Berlin art scene open up to me with way more diversity than I had initially assumed.

ZauharV12, Image from the Subvertising exhibit

While I’m at these venues, my main job is to take pictures and videos of the art/space. This has definitely led to the soft skill of having confidence in these spaces where I feel out-of-place, or sometimes even undeserving of being there. Oftentimes, I feel awkward or shy to take pictures so openly, especially since sometimes people are in them, but I’ve also reminded myself that it’s my job and I deserve to take up space just as much as the next person, regardless of the extent of my art or German language knowledge. I’m here to learn as much as I can, and to be open 100%, which has led to amazing experiences like Soho House. At Floating University, everyone sat in a circle and participated in a meditation which was new and slightly awkward for me, but ultimately gratifying and calming.

A hard skill I’ve developed is being able to understand the balance between my tastes and what my company (or future employer) wants. I’ve learned this through trial and error editing videos for BerlinArtLink, but I think I’ve finally reached a point where I understand their content and in what specific ways I’m supposed to bring in my own personal tastes. Asking a lot of questions is paramount to gaining this understanding because no one is able to read minds. While I’m grateful that my company encourages the trial and process for an intern, I know that in the future that will most likely not be the case, but I now have a solid understanding of how to find that balance with a future employer. I’ve understood that with BerlinArtLink, they have a more neutral form of content, it’s not necessarily cutting-edge or flashy but is mainly to act as a resource and hub for people interested in art. I’ve realized that I can add in my own touches through my editing style, but will have to compromise on things like music choice and the types of images/videos. Overall, I’ve really learned a lot and feel like I’m beginning to get a really great grasp of art in Berlin.