The collapse of the contemporary art market has meant considerably fewer buyers negotiating Berlinâ€™s gallery scene. But while many of the much-trumpeted international outposts that arrived a few years back have quietly shut up shop, amongst some of the younger set thereâ€™s also a very positive sense of reappraisal. The feeling is that perhaps the city can get back to the crucial business of making art, rather than marketing it.
To this end â€“ and in the DiY fashion that Berlin is celebrated for - many emerging gallerists are developing new economic models that arenâ€™t just dependent on a few key patrons. â€˜Thereâ€™s a real disillusionment with the blue chip gallery world right now,â€™ says Christian Siekmeier, artist and founder of the Exile gallery. â€˜People are looking for alternatives. Itâ€™s an exciting time to experiment and try new ideas.â€™ Â During July and August of this year Siekmeier presented Summer Camp, an international programme offering young, emerging artists the opportunity to create and present site-specific work at his hotly-tipped Kreuzberg gallery, Exile. Artists were invited to submit proposals through, amongst other methods, an open-call on Facebook â€“ a daring strategy that seems to have paid off.
â€˜At first, it seemed like a bit of risk,â€™ explains Siekmeier, whose previous shows have presented work by the late Al Baltrop, Joel Gibb of the Hidden Cameras and cult zine Straight To Hell.
â€˜But most people who have come to see Summer Camp have realised that this is a different kind of experience to what the gallery â€˜normallyâ€™ does. The challenge was to make the process a little more open and accessible whilst still maintaining a high quality.â€™