• Issue
  • Jan 01, 2023

Berlin: Coming on Strong

Installation view of HE XIANGYU’s House of Nations, 2022, single channel video with color and 5.1 surround sound, 28 min 58 seconds, at “House of Nations,” CCA Berlin – Center for Contemporary Arts, 2022. Courtesy CCA Berlin

In January 2022, a boycott stirred Berlin’s art scene. Art professionals, loudest among them artist Candice Breitz, started a grassroots campaign against the new exhibition venue Kunsthalle Berlin that suddenly nested in the former Tempelhof Airport—one of the city’s largest historical spaces that hosts an annual art fair and music festival. The city and the so-called Kunsthalle—a term typically denoting nonprofit art spaces—came under fire as it transpired that the organization Foundation for Art and Culture, which had quietly received the space and funding from the Berlin municipal government, was a private foundation with friendly ties to the Russian president. The Kunsthalle has since suspended its program, and an open call next year will determine the future of the airport. The public debacle, which played out until mid-year, seemed like a curious foreshadowing of Germany’s political entanglements in 2022, and set the tone for Berlin’s cultural vanguard vis-à-vis its slow government apparatus.

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