Sharon Hayes, Installation view, art berlin contemporary, 2013
For Yard (Sign), Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin

This year’s abc, (art berlin contemporary) an artist-driven enterprise only loosely tethered to the label “art fair,” was  clean and at times visually sparse.  Giant impasto paintings still asserted themselves in the looming warehouse space, but other works appealed to senses less practiced in mass art viewing.  Sound, movement and light offerings, which could have been jarring were curated in a discrete way by new abc director and former Art Basel communications manager Maike Cruse.   There was a full program of performances and lectures, announced by  speakers as part of Pae White’s site-specific sound piece CNVIVIAL.   There was also the strong and somewhat scrappy side project MISS READ, offering up zines, art books, and (finally) a tote bag.

Scattered throughout the entrance and main space were Hannah Weinberger’s six large stones, shown at the new L.A. based gallery Freedman Fitzpatrick.  The stones were hollowed out, combining ambient sounds with the hum of visitors and curious children.  One German review of abc, noting its kinetic frenzy and bright colors, called the 2013 iteration, “a playground for adults.”  Robin Rhode, with Galerie Stevenson, displayed an interactive coloring book piece, and Ardnt showed the deceptively juvenile comics of the artist HAHAN.

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Pae White, CNVIVIAL installation view, abc
neugerriemschneider, BerlinPhotograph by Ali Fitzgerald

Tony Oursler, as part of Avlskarl gallery’s booth, displayed a single flickering light bulb coupled with a tensely recited soundtrack, creating an unnerving theatricality like a Woody Allen horror movie.  Andy Coolquitt, an artist who investigates the playful and decorative qualities of light, collected structures of questionable utility, creating a smaller warehouse-within-a-warehouse.  Lacking identifying labels, the works were a minimal industrial mystery, an inviting mix of gloss and raw materiality.

Mark Flood for Peres Projects, 2013
Photograph by Ali Fitzgerald

Using his own canvases as walls, Mark Flood made a dark, insular fort for Peres Projects.  Flood’s contribution was loud and seemed to invalidate everything outside it.  A wolf-machismo meme decorated the exterior while the inside was papered with fanzine photos of Justin Bieber, warped coke bottles, and cutout silhouettes of proto-American figures like John Wayne.  An oft-trodden subject, Flood explored the trappings of American masculinity with mischievous ambiguity.  

Sharon Hayes’ piece For Yard (Sign) with Tanya Leighton Gallery offered a slightly more pastoral vision of the heartland.  Hayes installed over 150 yard signs, some found, others recreated, which alluded to the various political leanings, affirmations of faith, and neighborly concerns of suburban America, giving a kind of capsule history of the foreclosure years.

Kirstine Roepstorff, with Peres Projects, showed ethereal gem-like structures and mobiles, providing a sublime and delicate moment in a long hall of sturdy art. Close to Roepstorff’s quiet nook was one of Tomás Saraceno’s Utopian structures, a reflective inverted pyramid made of thin solar panels.  Perhaps Saraceno’s piece best encapsulated the spirit of abc, an ambitious but surprisingly light undertaking this year. 


Kirstine Roepstorff, New Works, Peres Projects, Berlin.
Courtesy Peres Projects, Berlin

art berlin contemporary was held at Station in Berlin, from September 19th-22nd, 2013.

Ali Fitzgerald is an art writer and artist based in Berlin, Germany. She is currently working on a hand-drawn comic for Modern Painters and contributes to Art21. This is her first article for eyes towards the dove.