Kunst-Werke (KW) is one of Berlin’s most consistently impressive contemporary art institutions. They excel in presenting the kind of exhibitions that those who take their art more seriously than a little eye candy will drool over. Art for the artists, if you will. Divergent enough from the mainstream to retain its sex appeal, yet of sufficient conceptual depth to continue sparking a few neurons off during the U-Bahn ride home.
KW is a million miles away from being a museum; that means no dust-gathering permanent collection, allowing innovation and curatorial creativity to run wild across five floors of malleable space, occasionally even spilling out into the large courtyard. A spicily mixed crowd — comprised of studious art fanatics, clutches of backpack-toting tourists who stumbled in off of Auguststrasse, and a seasoning of bespectacled bohemian intellectuals — wander the interconnected series of numbered spaces.
From mixed media retrospectives to overblown installations, festivals and sound performances, it’s fair game to expect the unexpected, assured in the knowledge that it’s going to be high-quality stuff. Past exhibitions have included the freaky-as-hell films that made up the cinema of transgression, the biting political satire of Christoph Schlingensief, and the talk-of-the-town beer pyramid from Cyprien Gaillard (pictured).
It was their initiative that kick-started the Berlin Biennale, and now as a collaborator of PS1/MoMA in New York, the Venice Biennale and Documenta X, Kunst-Werke is putting the city on the international art map as a heavyweight epicenter that’s here to stay.