Open November 7, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center presents Children of Berlin: Cultural Developments 1989-1999, an exhibition featuring a variety of Berlin artists, art-based associations and publications, new media pioneers, architects, fashion designers, theater set-designers, musicians, and club-life promoters. These cultural practitioners have been important figures in Berlin during the ten years since the fall of the Wall in 1989. Whether in a studio, a club or a bar, a shop or showroom, Berlin in the 1990s has been a laboratory charged with innumerable experiments.
There have been many transformations since the fall of the Wall, and today Berlin is a completely different city from what it was in 1989. The unique situation in Berlin at the beginning of the 1990s brought young people from all over the world to witness a historical process: the unification of two separate Germanies with Berlin at their nucleus. This process was accompanied by social, cultural and aesthetic changes, as an energetic population was confronted with new possibilities, expectations and needs. Gaps were filled in a process of ‘reconstruction’ and ‘construction.’ Empty houses in the inner-city section ‘Mitte,’ formerly East Berlin, offered people empty rooms in which they could start living and working with unprecedented freedom.
Among the almost thirty artists featured in the show is Monica Bonvicini with A Violent, Tropical, Cyclonic Piece of Art Having Wind Speeds of or in Excess of 75 Miles per Hour (1998), in which two powerful fans installed in a wall blow at hurricane speeds. Christoph Keller’s invention of a camera/movie-camera hybrid produced a thirty-foot photograph of a moving Berlin subway train, capturing the speed of change in contemporary Berlin. John Bock hopes that visitors will crawl into his artwork: through a giant sweater into a tiny Fiat Panda. An installation called Brancusi (1997), by Tobias Rehberger, is a dark room with five circular couches, creating a futuristic lounge atmosphere. Natascha Sadr-Hagighian presents a magical work in which a razor blade is “projected,” dangling where a slide should be in a 35 mm slide projector.
In an effort to address a broader definition of the creative energy present in Berlin during the last ten years, the exhibition includes a store/lounge designed by 3 de luxe, located in the museum’s lobby. This will function as a reading room for Berlin-based publications, and where the Berlin-based fashion designers Bless, John de Maya, and Jürgen Frisch will display and sell their clothing. Bert Neumann’s set-design of “a Balkan Room” points to his roots in the East and in the vibrant Berlin theater community; and Carsten Höller’s slide for visitors will wind from the third floor hallway down to the outdoor terrace. Club-owner Cookie will re-create Cookie’s Bar in P.S.1’s café, hosting a party on November 9th.
Children of Berlin: Cultural Developments 1989-1999 is organized by Klaus Biesenbach, P.S.1 Senior Curator and director of Kunst-Werke Berlin, and Alanna Heiss, P.S.1 Executive Director.
The catalog that accompanies the show is more a yearbook than a chronicle of the exhibition. It includes portraits and interviews of gallerists, architects, members of the theater community, theorists, entrepreneurs and other prominent Berlin personalities.
Children of Berlin has been made possible in part through the support of the Berlin Senatsverwaltung für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kultur; RWE; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the P.S.1 Board of Directors and members of P.S.1’s International Council.