Fab 40: Exile, Kreuzberg
The collapse of the contemporary art market has meant considerably fewer buyers negotiating Berlin’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 there’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 – and in the DiY fashion that Berlin is celebrated for - many emerging gallerists are developing new economic models that aren’t just dependent on a few key patrons. ‘There’s a real disillusionment with the blue chip gallery world right now,’ says Christian Siekmeier, artist and founder of the Exile gallery. ‘People are looking for alternatives. It’s an exciting time to experiment and try new ideas.’ 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 – a daring strategy that seems to have paid off.
‘At first, it seemed like a bit of risk,’ 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.
‘But most people who have come to see Summer Camp have realised that this is a different kind of experience to what the gallery ‘normally’ does. The challenge was to make the process a little more open and accessible whilst still maintaining a high quality.’