Gallery Weekend Berlin (GWB) is an annual event that brings together more than 50 galleries in Berlin. The non-governmental event, with galleries selected through a public contest, attracts international attention with its wide range of institutions and artists, and its quality with the support of corporate sponsors.
This year’s 19th edition took place from April 28 to 30, featuring international artists such as Hito Steyerl, Cao Fei, and Sheila Hicks from various disciplines, including media art, textile art, and more. The exhibitions continue after the festival, long after the weekend.
The 19th Gallery Weekend Berlin was a dynamic event beyond the white cubes. The artist duo Arotin & Serghei installed photovoltaic modules and sound work in an empty space of a former power plant in the East German district. The inaugural ‘Sellerie Weekend,’ a self-organized exhibition program by galleries not invited to the GWB, also attracted attention with unique exhibitions both inside and outside the galleries.
During the Berlin Art Weekend, the “Duotopia” at Sprüth Magers by Chinese media artist Cao Fei (b. 1978) attracted media attention. Over the past two decades, Cao Fei has been at the forefront of art dealing with media, technology, and the future.
This Berlin exhibition addresses issues of metaverse, virtual reality, and the interaction of human and machine consciousness. The show begins with ‘Meta-mentary (2022),’ a series of everyday interviews with people about their thoughts on the metaverse and the distant future. ‘Duotopia (2022),’ the work of the same title as the exhibition, utilizes the metaverse screen to pursue an architectural experience, with the viewer lying on the floor and looking at the ceiling screen to immerse themselves in the space of the metaverse. Cao Fei has been building virtual worlds and featuring the avatar ‘China Tracy’ since 2007, and in ‘Duotopia’ she created a new avatar, ‘Oz.’
On the other side of the virtual world, the physical world is represented. ‘Isle of Instability (2020),’ ‘A Holiday (2023),’ and ‘Still Alive (2023)’ deal with the time of quarantine, the experience of being away from nature, and the loss of loved ones that the artist witnessed and experienced up close during the pandemic in China. The exhibition runs through August 19.
Q Contemporary gallery in Budapest presents “Ilona Keserü: All” through June 1. Ilona Keserü’s (b. 1933) is a representative artist of the Hungarian Cold War era known for heart-shaped abstract paintings. When socialist art was dominant in the Hungarian art scene in the 1960s and 1970s, a few younger artists kept an eye on trends in American and Western European art. Keserü was one of them, soon becoming a prominent female abstractionist. Beginning in the late 1960s, Keserü has created abstract paintings and textile works inspired by heart-shaped gravestones, with curvilinear masses oscillating between softly permeating and sharply defined, intensely expressive and intelligently composed.
Although Keserü was famous in Hungary already from the 1960s, it was in 2017 that she gained international recognition, when her first bilingual catalog featuring more than 400 works was published. After seeing the catalog, London’s Stephen Friedman Gallery presented Keserü’s work at Frieze Master 2017. Since then, her works have been acquired by leading institutions around the world, including the Metropolitan, and Keserü has become one of the world’s leading Eastern European artists after more than 70 years of œuvre.
Houghton Hall in Norfolk, England, is a classical mansion built in 1720 for Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister of England. Houghton Hall supports contemporary art by partnering with local public organizations and international galleries. In particular, its program of installing site-specific sculptures in the interior and gardens of Houghton Hall has included international artists such as James Turrell (2015), Richard Long (2017), Damien Hirst (2018), Henry Moore (2019), Anish Kapoor (2020), Tony Cragg (2021), and Chris Levine (2021).
This year, the program presents Sean Scully (b. 1945) with the exhibition “Smaller Than The Sky,” on view at Houghton Hall through August 29. Scully creates architecturally structured sculptures with stacked sand, wood, glass, and marble. The works vary in scale from model-sized to massive open-air structures. Curator Sean Rainbird explains the title as referring to British art’s special interest in the sky, noting that every work becomes humble under the vastness of the sky.