Unconventional art in unconventional spaces: Project Space Festival brings artists together in celebration of Berlin’s physical spaces

A Guest Post For Omnified by Isabelle Hore-Thorburn

Each day this August, Project Space Festival will take visitors to every corner of the city to question their relationship to time and space and their role in Berlin’s changing urban landscape. Forget the image of a traditional gallery and instead imagine a place to fill gaps in the city or temporarily occupy spaces, from a former embassy to a Lithuanian tea-stall.

Now in its fourth year, Project Space Festival spans 31 days, 27 project spaces and features two panel discussions. Although the influx of investment capital into the city has impacted the ecology of its free urban spaces, the spirit of the project is still very much alive. The breadth and diversity of the festival’s program reflects a city with communities and spaces committed to maintaining their vibrant creative scene.

The festival organizers describe their program as “fearless and direct, charming and seductive,” where artist and audience come together to activate dialogues between the contemporary and the historical, within Berlin’s own artistic communities and beyond.

With a packed schedule to sift through, here are some of the events that caught our attention.

Fault lines”: Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018 at x-embassy, 3 p.m.
Performances by Sumugan Sivanesan, Carl Gerber, and Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll, followed by a discussion with the artists
Location: Atelierhaus Australische Botschaft OST, Grabbeallee 34, 13156 Berlin in Niederschönhausen

Image credit: MfS HA_III Fo 382 Bild_0002

The former Australian Embassy to the German Democratic Republic (GDR) seems like an unlikely site for a project space, yet this iconic modernist building will host works from Australian and German artists for ex-embassy. The exhibition explores the former embassy as a site shaped by forces beyond its physical frame. Megan Cope (Quandamooka), Archie Moore (Kamilaroi), Sonya Schönberger (DE), Sumugan Sivanesan (AU) and Carl Gerber (DE), and Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll (DE) draw out lines of tension running through and beyond a Cold War embassy that once linked the settler colonial “fifth continent” and “Pankow.”

Ivanka Chai / Иванка Чай \ يإش كنأؤإ”: Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 at Kabinetas, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Artists: Marija Nemčenko, Rowan Markson
Location: “Turkish Market” at Maybachufer, 12047 Berlin in Neukölln

Image courtesy of the artist, Rowan Markson

Lithuanian artist Marija Nemčenko and British artist Rowan Markson are the creators behind this Lithuanian tea stall which will be set up at the “Turkish Market” on Maybachufer, connecting the two markets and cultures. The name “Ivan Chai” becomes “Ivanka Chai,” in reference to the collective body of women who cultivated the tea and from whom it was purchased. This one day event is inspired by the market and examines the historical narratives surrounding tea as a social place of exchange. Both artists have research-led practices that are based in the cultural intersectionalities, aiming to develop cultural counter-narratives.

Pub Crawl”: Friday, Aug. 17, 2018 at Farbvision, 6 p.m.
Artists: Declan Clarke, Paul McDevitt, Cornelius Quabeck
Location: Schönhauser Allee 28, 10435 Berlin in Prenzlauer Berg

Photo courtesy Farbvision

If you need something stronger than tea, Pub Crawl is a one day event, during which Farbvision will host three separate artist-run bars situated within a single room. Each bar will have a distinct identity, conceived of as an artwork in itself. The aim is to explore how collaborative practices work, in that they can be simultaneously cooperative and combative. All three artists will work on this project together but ultimately each will offer a different experience. Farbvision itself is situated within a former butcher’s shop directly on a busy section of Schönhauser Allee. The most distinctive feature of the room is its decorative wall tiles, which offer exhibiting artists a unique exhibition environment and provide an existing visual structure to respond to.

Scent Hunting: Wild Flowers / Sentire”: Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 at SPEKTRUM, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Artists from Scent Club Berlin: Chaveli Sifre, Aleksandra Pawlowska, Mareike Bode
Location: Bürknerstraße 12, 12047 Berlin in Neukölln-Kreuzberg

Featured in this photo is Sentire, a participatory performance exploring the senses of touch and proximity, Marcello Lussana and Olga Kozmanidze

KCRW Berlin has previously covered SPEKTRUM’s work, which joins artists and scientists in an environment that stimulates experimentation, interdisciplinary thinking and horizontal learning. As a part of Project Space Festival, two groups from the SPEKTRUM community will present their latest research: Scent Hunting: Wild Flowers. A hunting, gathering and distillation performance by Scent Club Berlin, and Sentire: A participatory performance exploring the senses of touch and proximity by Marcello Lussana and Olga Kozmanidze of movLab.

To learn more about Project Space and the events taking place every day, take a look at the festival calendar and experience the vibrance of the city’s independent arts scene.

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