»Building bridges«

Sol Calero, El barco de piedra (The Clay Ship), 2020. Installation view, Contemporary Copenhagen. Courtesy of ChertLüdde, Berlin and Crevecoeur Galerie, Paris. Photo: David Stjernholm

The 10th edition of Berlin Art Week is all about discovery, participation, and taking part. In this interview, our colleague Sadaf Vasaei from the mediation team explains what will be different this year—and why.

Berlin Art Week is paying special attention to the mediation programme this year. How does this programme differ from previous years?

First of all, it has to be said that most of our partner institutions already have great mediation programmes of their own. Berlin Art Week has also collaborated on special-focus tours in recent years, for example to various galleries or project spaces. We’ve also devised neighbourhood tours that give people the chance to explore contemporary art venues on their own. This year, with funding from the Senate Department for Culture and Europe, we have the opportunity to expand and intensify Berlin Art Week’s mediation activities. For example, we are now offering overview tours to various partners for the first time, enabling visitors to immerse themselves in the different programmes without having to know anything about them in advance.


Is there anything else planned beyond an expanded array of tours? 

Oh yes! This year, for the tenth edition of Berlin Art Week, we have our first-ever shared space that acts as a specific meeting point. The ›BAW Garten‹ is currently taking shape on the grounds of the Kindl—Centre for Contemporary Art in Neukölln’s Rollbergkiez. There will be a specific public programme with mediation activities and events, but we also want anyone who is interested to be able to drop by and find out about Berlin Art Week and what is on offer there. We want to welcome people in, make them curious about what’s happening.


How would you describe the ›BAW Garten‹ programme in concrete terms?

We start with open formats, like a small early-morning sports session at nine in the morning, followed by workshops that we offer together with Museumsdienst Berlin and partner institutions. There will be a light meal at midday called ›Daily Bread‹, conceived by chef and artist Caique Tizzi; a series of performances exploring the site with sound and the body runs through the week in the afternoon, along with a small discussion format with the performance collective Gob Squad that gives young artists a stage. But we don’t want to repeat formats that the institutions are already offering themselves. It’s more about creating additional options for people who might never have been exposed to Berlin Art Week before. All programmes are free of charge and take place outdoors, weather permitting. That way, ›BAW Garten‹ can serve as a place to go and a meeting point from which to set off into the various decentralised programmes at Berlin Art Week. It can also be a place to end an art-filled day with DJ sets and a drink.

Sol Calero, El barco de barro/The Clay Ship, Copenhagen Contemporary. Courtesy of ChertLüdde, Berlin and Crevecoeur Galerie, Paris; Foto: David Stjernholm

Sol Calero, Isla ExtraCity, 2019. Courtesy of ChertLüdde, Berlin and Crevecoeur Galerie, Paris; Photo: David Stjernholm

What prompted this year’s need to conceive the programme in such a drastically different way?  

I have to elaborate a little. The basic idea of Berlin Art Week is to bring the city’s individual institutions and key players together, to bundle the programmes and to showcase this unbelievably productive network in all its breadth. And that’s exactly how it should be this year, too. But the more established Berlin Art Week became, the more we asked ourselves what an event like this means in the context of the city. Who is it actually made for? Who does it reach? Who is being addressed and who is not? Our goal is to reach as many people as possible, to create new offerings and a place where people can engage in conversation. We want to build bridges, connect art and life.


What inspired the decision to choose this specific location in Neukölln? 

We wanted to be in a place where you find an urban community that goes beyond art and culture. We wanted to be in the middle of a neighbourhood. But nothing would be worse than to sit somewhere like a UFO for five days and then disappear. So it’s important to approach it with a degree of sensitivity. Our decision for the site in the Rollbergkiez was based largely on the fact that this location reflects a certain social diversity and is in a constant state of flux. Moreover, its proximity to the Kindl—Centre for Contemporary Art ensures that there is a local connection to the art world and that we are not completely disconnected in that respect. The temporary structure on site is being developed in collaboration with artist Sol Calero. Calero creates constructions that can become places of encounter—the artist calls them ›contact zones‹. In concrete terms, this involves a kind of pavilion and a large communal table. That said, it was important for us not to commission these things from scratch. The artist is importing elements of the structure from other contexts. Sustainability was a major consideration here.


Regarding the ›BAW Garten‹, what are you as an art mediator particularly looking forward to? 

Needless to say, mediation programmes and guided tours were the first thing to go during the contact restriction phase, and the last thing to be resumed afterwards. Zoom tours do have their charm, detached from the physical world as they are. But a lot falls by the wayside. So what am I particularly looking forward to? I’m looking forward to the ›BAW Garten‹ programme that was developed by our team, to meeting people and being physically present with others in a place where you can interact in a relaxed way—outside and in the open air, in a garden.

The 10th edition of Berlin Art Week invites with  ›Explore Berlin Art Week‹  to workshops, events, performances, tours and exchange at ›BAW Garten‹.