- Berlin, the famous Berghain club morphs into an art gallery
Berghain, the legendary temple of techno music in Berlin, has been closed since March to protect visitors from the virus, even before shutdowns were enforced. It recently ran some music sets in the adjacent beer garden, where parents could dance again in compliance with the strict distancing rules and with the volume turned down. But now the club is morphing into a modern art gallery and will host the Studio Berlin exhibition, opening on 9 September and running indefinitely.
A welcome opportunity for fans of this neoclassical architecture revamped into a modern icon. Because the Berghain is located on the site of the former Wriezener Bahnhof railway station, in what used to be an old cogeneration plant on Stalinallee, converted into a club by the architects from Berlin-based studio, Karhard. Since 2004, this 1954 neoclassical cube with its rustic base, monumental pillars and large mullioned windows has been home to the Berghain, successor to the legendary Ostgut Club. Even then, art had a special place in the club, starting with a wall installation by Piotr Nathan, showing eruptions of elemental forces on 175 aluminium panels and dominating the foyer. This was the entrance to the rooms of the club on the two floors of the monumental, 18-metre-high turbine hall. Two huge photos by the famous German photographer and artist Wolfgang Tillmans also adorn the walls of the central bar made of black rubber.
Now, art welcomes inquisitive eyes already on the outside, in the form of a giant phrase on the woodland side: “Morgen ist die Frage” (“Tomorrow is the question”), an installation by the artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. Never was a phrase more appropriate, as we are all groping in the dark, the same blinding black as one of the famous dark rooms of the Berghain. If instead, you approach from the main entrance side, you’ll see another installation. Here, the sculptor Dirk Bell has used massive steel beams to spell out the word “Love”.
Karen and Christian Boros, organized the Studio Berlin show with Juliet Korte to send a message. When the going gets tough, the various branches of art need to band together and what better way than to provide a unique, intriguing platform for artists, who have also been deprived of places to meet and present their work. 117 artists have been inspired by this joint project, including big names like Isa Genzken, Ólafur Elíasson and Rosemarie Trockel. Alongside them are relative unknowns, artists who haven’t yet shown their work in galleries.
If you want to enjoy Berghain as a temple of art in modern times instead of techno music, you’ll need to reserve a place on the dedicated site. And before you enter the sacred halls of the Berghain, your bags will be checked: no images, no videos, no audio recordings. Your mobile phone camera will be taped over. In keeping with the club’s usual no-pictures policy, you won’t be able to take photos inside the venue, where art is being displayed across 3500 square metres: on the dancefloor, in the unisex bathrooms, in the bars and in the private rooms. Visitors to this gallery will leave with lots of memories and ideas, and you’ll need to join them in person if you want to explore this art transformation. The music vibes still live on though: Wolfgang Tillmans has created a new video and musical piece for the exhibition.
Exhibition Studio Berlin
organized by Christian Boros, Karen Boros, Juliet Korte
from 9 September 2020 onwards
Location: Berghain, Am Wriezener Bahnhof 10243 Berlin
Find out more: https://www.studio.berlin/
Images: see captions
1 - 4: STUDIO BERLIN/Berghain, LOVE © Dirk Bell Foto: Noshe
2 - 3 - 5: STUDIO BERLIN/Berghain, © Rirkrit Tiravanija, courtesy neugerriemschneider Berlin, Foto: Noshe