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Art Architecture

Six Art and Architecture Shows in Berlin to Keep You Warm

You should book a ticket to Berlin right now. Why? The Renée Green retrospective at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art is on. Green is an international treasure, one with a dense practice that entangles architecture, field research, writing, sculpture and cinema into one immersive—and endlessly rewarding—package. The artist’s multidisciplinary approach both addresses and debunks ideas that cut across several mediums, platforms, theories, industries and languages about who we are and what we are allowed to do in terms of publishing, art, travel and beyond. The work makes perfect fodder for KW’s halls, which have always dedicated themselves to ambitious voices and questioned what we know and value in each other (and the things we make). Diehards should set aside a few days.

installation view of "HR Giger and Mire Lee," at Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin, 2021. © The Artists and Schinkel Pavillon. Photography by Frank Sperling.

Science fiction confectioner HR Giger tends to generate his own mythology but in his slick doubleheader with fellow artist Mire Lee at the Schinkel Pavillion it is his accomplice who really builds out the horror with sculptures that belch, gurgle and spew vicious pink and inky liquids. When we arrived, one of Lee’s sculpture had been so loquacious that it was in temporary timeout. It seems appropriate that any Giger show wouldn’t be complete without someone or something becoming too rowdy. (Rumor has it that Giger is on his way to New York in the form of a Chinatown retrospective five years in the making.)

HWKN Architecture's "Shape Tomorrow" exhibition in Berlin. Photography courtesy of the studio.

The good people of HWKN Architecture trust you not to put them in too compromising of a position in their new interactive solo show at Aedes Architecture Forum, "Shape Tomorrow," which arms visitors with toy avatars to be placed at will amongst toy-sized versions of HWKN skyscrapers both in development and imagined. The purpose of this exercise is not a Instagram gimmick but rather a research project in action—the firm hopes that by studying the imagery generated on social platforms and scenarios erected over the show’s week-long run its architects can learn real things about the way people would want to navigate and occupy the studio’s designs and use that information to inform future decision-making. Looking up at the cranes remaking my city it is sometimes nice to feel included in the process.

Rolling Stones, Steel Wheels Tour, 1990. Stage set view, 1989. © Mark Fisher Collections (Courtesy Cristina Garcia/Stufish Entertainment Architects).

Not far from Aedes Architecture Forum is the Tchoban Foundation - Museum of Architectural Drawing where another great retrospective is on display, that of production designer and architect Mark Fisher who made outlandish stages for corporations like Walt Disney and concert stunts for acts like Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Pink Floyd and Lady Gaga. The exhibition isn't a series of concert tapes but rather Fisher’s incredible sketches which help open the practice to public view.

Mark Lechey, Untitled (Bridges), 2020. Photography courtesy of Galerie Buchholz Berlin, Cologne, New York.

If Mark Leckey doesn’t get a Nike deal after “O 'MAGIC POWER OF BLEAKNESS” at Galerie Buccholz, then someone is messing up. This exhibition’s central piece, Under Under In (2019/2021), is a honky, multiscreen horror following a tribe of teens decked out in tracksuits with flashing Adidas and Nike watermarks into the dark where they discover they are not alone. This is paired with a sculpture of two bridges running over each other. It’s somewhere between Chris Burden and Ken Price and left me thinking about those moments of freeway genius.

Refik Anadol, Machine Hallucinations: Nature Dreams, 2021. Photography by Roman März, courtesy of the artist and KÖNIG GALERIE Berlin, London, Seoul and Vienna.

When I tell you there was a line to see Refik Anadol's solo show at Konig Galerie, picture a hoard that stretched all the way to the unseeable end of a European allée. I’m not sure if this is a recommendation or a warning. The show has been a blockbuster for weeks it seems. Who could deny the appeal of a free Superblue experience? Certainly not Berliner hipsters who were there drinking their way to the front while the gallery’s steeple enchanted them via hypnotic pulse.