The 9th Berlin Biennale: The Present in Drag, art for now

The 9th Berlin Biennale, “The Present in Drag”, is concluding on 18 September, at its five sites — the Akademie der Künste, the ESMT, the Feuerle Collection, the KW Institute and Blue-Star boats. This new edition, curated by the DIS collective, comments on the present and its contradictions — the “post-contemporary” — through the filter of art. We access the 9th Berlin Biennale by entering a small door. After penetrating this entirely commonplace entrance of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, we find ourselves projected into the installation by Amalia Ulman (Privilege, 2016). Grey carpet, grey curtains, three screens, a dance barre, a few red balloons strewn on the ground and a pigeon… this “Black Lodge” atmosphere draws on the colours and themes favoured by the young artist on Instagram — the platform on which she has notched up some 120,000 subscribers. The pigeon, Bob 2.0, is a nod at “Bob the Pigeon”, the omnipresent sidekick in Amalia Ulman’s mythology — a mythology in which lightness fills in the gaps as the artist attacks issues including power relationships, male/female equality, but also the trials of pregnancy — a privilege reserved to women. While this door emphasises the immersive aspect of the installation, the first room of “The Present in Drag” globally sets the tone: a desire to break away from codes, to change the tropes in the showing of art, to promote immersion and to bring the artist back into social dialogue. So where does it lead us? The 9th Berlin Biennale was a biennale… This biennale assembled its classic turn-up of artistis who make the rounds of international exhibitions. Korakrit Arunanondchai, Jon Rafman, Camille Henrot and Simon Fujiwara were part of this contingent. Camille Henrot revealed a double installation (Office of Unreplied Emails and 11 Animals that Mate 4 Life, 2016)....

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Birgit Jooss takes over documenta Archiv

Birgit Jooss has just been appointed director of Documenta Archiv for 20th and 21st century art in Kassel. Gathering the archives of documenta’s five-yearly exhibitions since the event was set up in 1955, documenta Archiv was founded by Arnold Bode in 1961. More than 100,000 volumes, 5,000 films, videos and sound recordings and some 60,000 photos make up a total of 1.4 million archives retracing documenta’s thirteen editions, with a database aimed at serving documenta Institut in collaboration with the University of Kassel. The Institut will enable the city of Kassel to become a key place for art research, including research on periods outside of documenta exhibition periods. Birgit Jooss was director of the Deutsches Kunstarchiv at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg from 2007 to 2015. At documenta Archiv, she is replacing Gerd Mörsch who held the position from 2013 to 2015. The next documenta, documenta 14, will be taking place next year in Kassel and Athens, curated by Adam...

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Rosemarie Trockel collection destroyed by fire

A fire has partially destroyed the villa of artist Rosemarie Trockel in the city of Hanwald, Germany, leading to the destruction of several works in her collection, to the value of €30 million. The collection includes works by Andy Warhol among other great names in contemporary art, as well as works by the artist herself. Aged 63, the artist was not at home during the incident. Carla Donauer of the Sprüth Magers Gallery has deplored the incident while expressing relief that there were no victims. Rosemarie Trockel was born in 1952 in Schwerte. She lives and works in Cologne where she studied art under Werner Schriefers. She casts a subversive look at society, querying the instability of social conventions. She has namely earned a reputation for her knitting paintings. In 2013, she received the Haftmann...

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Cornelia Schleime wins the 2016 Hannah Höch Prize

The 2016 Hannah Höch Prize, one of the most prestigious Berlin prizes, awarded every two years, has been awarded to artist Corniela Schleime. Meanwhile, painter Tatjana Doll has won the Hannah Höch Sponsor’s Prize. Born in 1953 in East Berlin, Cornelia Schleime studied at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts under the East German regime. Her work presents landscapes, large-format portraits, figurative paintings and drawings after photographs found in flea markets. She was among the young artists to oppose the Communist regime. In 1981, authorities banned her from exhibiting in Germany. She then decided to cross the Iron Curtain in 1984. Some of her works, remaining in East Germany after her departure, disappeared and were probably destroyed by the Socialist government. The Hannah Höch Prize recognises her entire career and foresees a $70,000 endowment as well as an exhibition at the Berlinische Galerie this...

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Eleven artworks of Picasso stolen

On 15 April this year, several artworks, including eleven lithographs by Picasso, were stolen in a German bank, the Portigon Financial Services AG, located in North Rhine-Westphalia. These works are part of the company collection gathered for several years by the bank WestLB (the former name of Portigon AG before it went bankrupt during the 2008 crisis). The bank had placed its collection in a safe after the bankrupt of WestLB, which used to exhibit it within its walls. In 2014, the bank had made public its will to sell part of the 380 pieces of the collection and had provoked some anger from the Association of German Art Historians, which had campaigned against this sale, as they considered it a means to pay off the company’s debts. Portigon AG had finally renounced to this sale and decided to store the collection in a safe before selling it to a public institution. The collection comprises 380 pieces, including works of Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and August Macke. Among the stolen artworks were eleven lithographs by Picasso, estimated to a total amount of more than $1.1...

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