Places of Art: Bohème in Berlin

For the Esprit Montmartre exhibition in Frankfurt at Schirn Kunsthalle, I was asked to contribute an idea that would connect the vivid  art scene of 1900s Montmartre to todays Berlin.
13 Mar ’14 by Sara Community, Places

If you know where to look for it, you will find an extensive network of creativity in Berlin. Beyond the established structures of the art market (i.e. famous galleries, museums and exhibitions), there is still place for off-locations that celebrate creative subcultures and possibly ideas that will not make the cut to success. Yet they are successful on their own terms. Like back in the old Montmartre days, art does not purely exist; its creation is highly dependable on the life and atmosphere of its birthing place. Art thrives on the encounters that turn to collaborations. Wild parties and excessive rebellion against the rules of society become visions and ideas. As Matthias has stated precisely on Castor & Pollux,

“The influx of young and talented artist has by far pushed the limits of the local art scene, although success is still relative without the right connections to the right people. If you’re a young creative from abroad it will be hard to find entrance into the relevant club of curators, gallery owners, artists and critics. Yet the city keeps its reputation as excellent place to grow and produce. Where do all these people go? They have started their own creative ghettos in the popular north of Neukölln and in the forgotten side streets of Wedding while all similarities to the art scene of the 70s have vanished. ” 

team titanic: the first gallery and performance space on Flughafenstraße Neukölln.

Nowadays, the off-locations of art are places where people can meet freely, in a creative environment that is inhabited by people of the same community. They are not necessarily galleries or exhibitions only; they are clubs, bars, places of life and expression. Whether they are valuable on the market or even measured at all is an entirely different question that hardly anybody in Berlin asks about.

For the Esprit Montmartre exhibition in Frankfurt at Schirn Kunsthalle, I was asked to contribute an idea that would connect the vivid  art scene of 1900s Montmartre to todays Berlin. Analog to Matthias’ analytic contribution on Castor & Pollux, I wanted to picture the aforementioned off-locations of art. But my perspective was one from the outside, just like my perspective on  Montmartre, a hundred years later. The magic is caged inside the walls of the locations. Their peculiarity comes with their patrons and outsiders will hardly notice their significance. That’s how it usually goes in a community based on acquaintance and commonality: not everybody is invited in.

Savvy Contemporary: bridging the gap between western art and the rest within the circular art scene.

Sameheads: experimental design/fashion boutique & café by day, exhibition space & club by night.

Das Gift: bar and rentable gallery space in an old Berliner Eckkneipe run by a musician and an artist from Scotland.

Chesters: club of expats, experimental electronic music and Brooklynites

Bar 3: Theater, Film, Art, PR. An intersection of the creativity scene across the street from private club & hotel Soho House.

King Size: another Mitte spot that stands in contrast to the Neukölln project spaces. But on Wednesdays, it hosts artists nights with cheaper prices for drinks.

Smaragd Bar: opens only Thursdays and Saturdays. Serves Champagne exclusively.

Diener: one of the Westberlin institutions; a homely Kneipe that was host for artists years ago already. It hasn’t lost it’s vibe yet.

The pictured places of unguided creation can still exist, although they are fading as Berlin becomes more popular. With rising costs for living and working space, artists and galleries will be forced to consider economic success more than freedom of expression.

“Berlin is now taking the same path of art metropoles like New York, London or the Paris of the Bohème: with the economic boom (mostly regarding the real estate market), the necessary parameters of artistic expression are dwindling. Already major cities of the world are competing with one another and there is no month without the declaration of a new artistic paradise for the next generations. Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Peking – those cities could become the homes of the artistic generations to come. The artists will leave Berlin and literally drag all the creative potential with them.” (via C&P)