Polishing the pearls of Berghain

A new exhibition at the legendary Berlin club Berghain highlights the artwork of its creative employees. Cinnamon Nippard gets in the door to take a peek.

Polishing the pearls of Berghain
Berghain's new art space Kubus Photo: Roland Owsnitzki

Berghain might be Berlin’s most famous club, featuring the world’s top DJs and Germany’s best-known bouncer, but most of the people working there remain unknown.

Yet there is more to the people who make drinks at the bar, check your coat and work the door. Many are artists in their own right.

Which is why Neda Sanai and Peter Knoch organized the exhibition “ALLE – Workers’ Pearls,” featuring the art of 43 Berghain employees, including the club’s famous bouncer, photographer Sven Marquardt.

Knoch has been working behind the bar at Berghain since it opened in 2004.

“After years I found out that many colleagues do art and I had the idea in the back of my mind that we should do something with it because its so many of them,” said Knoch.

“I thought it would be a good idea if we could bring the nightlife – the working life in the night – and the daytime life when we do other things – we could bring it together in this place,” said Knoch.

The artists have made use of the peculiarities of the scarred concrete of the hulking former power station now repeatedly dubbed the best club in the world.

Knoch said he prefers this kind of exhibition where there is interaction between the room, the architecture and the art – something that just isn’t possible in the classic white cube gallery.

Knoch’s work “Africa” is a large-scale surrealist ceramic sculpture. A stunted black forest sits on a huge oil drum as two monkeys row in a boat amongst the trees. Above this post-apocalyptic scene, an orange sun with stylized hyenas is suspended.

Multimedia artist and musician Sanai describes her audio work as a contemporary mantra. It’s a multi-layered soundscape that with an android-like female voice saying “Remember to forget.” On the surface it sounds like it should be calming, but there’s an unnerving undercurrent.

It’s a work that reflects on the trivialities that we get caught up in everyday life. “We carry too much nonsense. Especially living in the city and living the lives that we do. We care too much about the wrong things,” said Sanai.

Across from this scene stand two large-scale photographs. The first looks like a photograph taken from outer space of an island surrounded by ocean. The crystalline structures are pale, with Arctic white highlights and icy blues.

If you were ever curious to find out what the party drug ecstasy looks like, this is it. Sarah Schönfeld put MDMA on a negative and produced this image through the chemical process of developing it.

Schönfeld has done a whole series of drugs on film, but is featuring two in this exhibition. The second photograph is a close-up of heroin, but you really would have no idea. With a smattering of white and blue clusters on a deep, black background, it looks like a distant galaxy.

The range of works is diverse, from paintings, sculptures and photography, to installations, performances, audio and video art. And of course there’s the impressiveness of the space itself.

The opening night vernissage will also segue into a party fitting for an exhibition held in a place deemed by many to be the best club in world.

Kubus at Berghain

Am Wriezener Bahnhof

August 18 – Vernissage at 7 pm; party at 10 pm

August 19–26 from 4 to 10 pm

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.