A3 EDITORIAL | Philipp Bollmann


Appointed curator the of the prestigious Berlin Masters exhibition in 2016, Philipp Bollmann speaks with A3 about his new role and the changing face the show in its fourth edition.

Berlin Masters runs from the 9th to the 23rd of October 2016 at Arndt Art Agency, Berlin, and includes the work of: Franziska Beilfuß, Walker Brengel, Lisa Drost, Timon & Melchior Grau, Henri Haake, Rafael Ibarra, Yuni Kim, Manuel Kirsch, Lilia Kovka, Phillip Lüttjohann, Olivia Parkes, Anja Spitzer, Björn Streeck.

Galerie Arndt

Installation view: Berlin Masters 2016, Arndt Art Agency (A3), Berlin

Can you discuss your background in the arts and working as a curator?

My passion for art was triggered during a school exchange in America when I was 16. I had such an inspiring art teacher who made me want to study art history. So, after finishing high school I went to Berlin to do so. I also worked for a well known gallery, but most importantly for me was meeting Heiner Wemhöner at that time who asked me to work for his collection. This was eight years ago. Since then I have been very happy to see how the Wemhöner Collection continues to develop and grow. I publish books about different focal points of the collection and curated exhibitions – also for galleries and museums. My next upcoming exhibition for example will open in October. It’s about how important contemporary artists are influenced by Joseph Beuys.

Berlin Masters

Matthias Arndt, officially opening Berlin Masters 2016 at Arndt Art Agency (A3), Berlin

You have been appointed curator of the prestigious group exhibition Berlin Masters that is in its 4th edition in 2016. Can you tell me a little about the concept of the exhibition, its history and what it hopes to achieve?

Berlin Masters was initiated in 2013 by Matthias Arndt and the curators Lisa Polten and Lydia Korndörfer. The project aimed to provide a platform and talent show for Berlin’s young artists. The main objective of the project is to facilitate the entry into the professional art world for living artists in Berlin after their completion of their studies. Now after three successful years, we think it’s time to build an even bigger base for the exhibition format. Every show, starting with this year’s edition, will have a curatorial theme for example. Currently, we are also in negotiations for a bigger space next year and we are planning a Berlin Masters Award.

Berlin Masters

Berlin Masters 2016 opening party at Arndt Art Agency (A3), Berlin

How important do you feel it is to support the emerging next generation of artists?

Very important of course. I think if you are interested in contemporary art you are a very curious person. And what is more exciting, is being able to discover the new Gerhard Richter or Peter Doig of tomorrow. I also think that each generation at each time has certain questions to ask and certain walls to tear down. So we all have to focus on young art for a better understanding of where we art right now – in culture as well as in society.

Galerie Arndt

Installation view: Berlin Masters 2016, Arndt Art Agency (A3), Berlin

Can you discuss the curatorial rationale behind BM 2016?

I was a little bit irritated when I visited the two art schools in Berlin searching for talent. We live in very tense times today. You may think of the Brexit and the emergence of nationalism all over Europe. You may also think about the refugees and about someone like Donald Trump who has a chance to become president of the United States. So I was questioning why none of this seemed to have any impact on the young artists. My explanation for that is that they don’t want to engage in “political art”, but of course everyone is very aware of what is going on. They just don’t want to directly communicate with daily politics. All displayed works in the exhibition are united by the idea of understanding silence as an attitude, from which a certain strength originates. Silence, as a point of departure, is a recurrent aesthetic throughout the last hundred years which is not, as one may believe, characterized by absence and disinterest, but which takes a firm stand – albeit a subtle and quiet one.

Galerie Arndt

Installation view: Berlin Masters 2016, Arndt Art Agency (A3), Berlin

Can you describe some of the works in the show that embody these ideas?

Manuel Kirsch for example reacts with his large-scale, monochrome screen printings of toilet paper patterns, on the one hand humorous towards Minimal Art, on the other hand, he directs our attention to everyday commodities and ennobles the aesthetic of a throw-away-product to a work of art. Another artist participating in this year’s edition of Berlin Masters is Phillip Lüttjohann who presents a similar gesture. He “abstracts the colour” of commercially available food packaging and therefore reduces the function of product design and advertisement to absurdity, which aims to attract the consumer’s attention. Moreover, the question arises for the viewer as to whether the objects actually contain the contents outlined on the food packaging. The reference seems likely to Piero Manzoni who proclaimed with his artwork “Merda d’artista” (1961), filling his own excrement in cans.


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