Polishing the pearls of Berghain

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

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

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