Berlin - The art animal has trouble feeding itself when the scene has to keep to itself. Although Berlin probably has more galleries than open Bürgerämter, only a tiny number of affluent and willing buyers call the city home. 

Fueled by a blend of courage and hope, 50 Berlin galleries did their best on the first weekend in May to get the local art trade up and running again after endless lockdown. With mixed results. Only a handful of international collectors, museum people and art brokers showed up, because hardly any flights were landing at BER at the time. Hotels, restaurants, bars and museums were still closed and gatherings of more than a few people were still prohibited.

A new art space opens this weekend: Amtsalon in the former Charlottenburg District Court
Gerd Engelsmann
A new art space opens this weekend: Amtsalon in the former Charlottenburg District Court

This weekend, however, Berlin's most important art dealers are making up for lost time. With a Summer Special (18-20 June, 12pm-7 pm) they hope to attract buyers from near and far. Unlike seven weeks ago, visitors no longer have to show a negative corona test to be able to check out the city's gallery scene. FFP2 masks are still required though.

Many of the exhibitions that opened at the beginning of May can now be seen last minute, so to speak.  New shows are opening too, such as the works by Isabell Heimerdinger and Jonathan Monk at Galerie Mehdi Chouakri, a spectacular electronic installation by Birgit Brenner at Eigen+Art, the energetic animal paintings by Walton Ford at Max Hetzler, text installations by Karl Holmqvist at Galerie Neu, gripping video works by Trisha Baga at Galerie Société. On the occasion of the dramatic US election last November, Baga, a young American artist, covered the Fridericianum in the Documenta city of Kassel with dystopian images of Trump's disastrous term in office and at the same time aroused hope for what was to come with "Hope". The positive prediction seems to finally have come true.

The Summer Special will also celebrate the launch of a new space for art in Berlin. The former Charlottenburg District Court (Kantstraße 79) will initially serve for eight days from 17 to 24 June as a pop-up showroom for 24 Berlin galleries, who are trying out Amtsalon as a lab for their fresh talents. The imposing listed building dating back to 1896 was used as a land registry office until a good 10 years ago and was recently transformed by Grüntuch Ernst Architekten into a multidisciplinary space for art, architecture and design - a platform for temporary projects in Berlin's burgeoning but increasingly space-starved art scene.

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