Birgit Rieger Positions

Rocking a New Satellite Fair

In Adlershof, Jenny Brockmann, 38, is getting ready for Positions, the second Berlin Art Week Fair. The artist’s studio is full of tubules with soil and water samples collected in New York, Istanbul and Tel Aviv on the trail of German migrants, now waiting for her artistic appraisal. Brockmann explores urban spaces and natural cycles and shows primarily at outdoor sites or institutions. Recently, she installed two granite slabs at the German Consulate in New York. Big as tabletops, they rose and fell as though they were breathing – according to temperature data electronically transmitted from Berlin Kladow.

Brockmann is represented by Galerie Gerken. At Positions, gallerist Tanja Gerken wants to show Brockmann’s smaller editions of the granite sculpture, which stands on white plinth. The artist’s large, interactive sculpture cost between 10,000 and 20,000 euros; no prices have yet been set for the smaller ones. Before that, the pressurized air cushions under the stones still have to be inflated by hand. „By the time the fair kicks off, I’d like to animate the sculptures“ says Brockmann. She wants to integrate a mini-computer into each socket, allowing the stones to open and close in a specific rhythm, like wings.

„I do everything myself – solder the boards, write the programs for the motor control and the valve control“ says Brockmann. This will be her first showing at a fair; she completed her studies at the Universität der Künste (University of the Arts) in 2007. Gerken had already discovered Brockmann’s work before graduation and brought the artist to her gallery. There, she offers Brockmann regular exhibitions, tries to get collectors exited, and last but no least, serves a sparring partner, lending support and advice and regularly coming to Brockmann’s studio to talk about her work. „That exchange is very important for me,“ says the artist. Last year, Gerken took part in another Berlin art fair, Preview. She didn’t sell any of the works she brought, but received inquiries from important curators, she says, including for Brockmann, whose work she didn’t even have at her booth. This year, she’ll participate in Positions, a new fair uncermoniously pulled together by Kristian Jarmuschek, former co-director of Preview (see p. 18). For a standard booth there, gallerists pay 4,700 euros, a bit more for bigger ones. At this point, Gerken knows neither which collectors will come to the new fair, nor what other galleries are participating. She hopes for good contacts and visibility. „Collectors for ambitious work like Jenny Brockmann’s aren’t easy to find“ she says. „They find you. That’s why presence is the name of the game.“

Many visual artist have settled in the old industrial buildings of Oberschöneweide in eastern Berlin; the city center has become too expensive for them. At the walkabout through their studios and exhibitions spaces that was held this summer, visitors could see that which art still is; image, painting, photography. Peter Funken co-curated parts of the tour. He is also director of the third Berlin fair, the Berliner Liste, which is held independently of the Berlin Art Week umbrella brand. Funken would love to bring promising artists from Oberschöneweide to his show.