January | Franz Ackermann at the Berlinische Galerie
Until 24 March
This bright and colorful show by a leading name in contemporary art will make for a joyful visit to Berlinische Galerie. Franz Ackermann’s Hills and Doubts exhibition is on display specifically for Berlinische Galerie, and it is one to stand in wonder at. Bold colors, attention to detail, and photographic touches have completely transformed the museum’s large entrance hall where Ackermann’s works have been placed. A mix of a mural, paintings, and photography, this installation needs to be looked at from a distance to discover its whole, and up close to experience its multicolored facets.
Berlinische Galerie, Alte Jakobstraße 124–128, Berlin, Germany, +49 30 78902600
February | Josef Beuys at the Hamburger Bahnhof
Until 21 April
The Nationalgalerie’s museum for contemporary art is showing an unusual series by Josef Beuys, The Secret Block for a Secret Person in Ireland. Beuys began selecting these drawings – which would eventually grow to 456 – in 1958, and it is believed that the ‘secret person’ mentioned in the title is James Joyce, while the word ‘block’ suggests the drawings have an almost sculptural dimension. For Beuys fans, this is a wonderful chance to see this unusual work. Another reason to visit this exhibition is to get a closer look at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum building. It was originally one of the first stations of the German rail system, opening in December 1846 as the terminus of the railway line between Hamburg and Berlin. It is Berlin’s only remaining train station from that time.
March | MarchMusic – Festival of Contemporary Music
14 – 23 March
The best of contemporary music scenes from around the world come to Berlin during MarchMusic. Orchestral and chamber music as well as musical theatre and experimental works by both established artists and upcoming musicians will be presented with a goal to cross the boundaries between tradition and innovation. The 2014 theme, To Berlin! To Berlin!, intends to show the city as a global destination that gathers people from all over the world. Program highlights include Einstein on the Beach, an opera in four acts by Philip Glass and Robert Wilson; Berlin PianoPercussion; and a performance by Audrey Chen and Sven-Åke Johansson. With more than 30 events, including world premieres and new productions, these March days will be a musical discovery.
April | Festtage
11 – 20 April
The musical discoveries continue in April, this time with a focus on opera. Festtage (Festival Days), organized by the Staatsoper, celebrates two 200-year anniversaries this year: those of Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi. The highlight of the festival will surely be the rarely performed Requiem of Max Reger by Plácido Domingo, Daniel Barenboim, Staatskapelle Berlin, and Staatsopernchor in the Philharmonie building. There will also be a new production of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, numerous symphony concerts by the Vienna Philharmonic and Daniel Barenboim’s duo piano recital, performed with fellow Argentinean Martha Argerich.
May | Ai Weiwei – Evidence
3 April – 7 July
A major solo exhibition of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is set to be held at Martin-Gropius-Bau, an institution known for its dedication to contemporary art and photography. The exhibition, developed specifically for this site, will be displayed in the building’s large atrium. Arguably China’s most important contemporary artist, Ai Weiwei uses concept art, performance, sculpture, photography, and more to create legendary pieces. His voice in social, political, and cultural criticism makes him an artist worth seeing.
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Niederkirchnerstraße 7, Berlin, Germany, +49 30 254860
June | Berlin Biennale
29 May – 3 August
The 8th Berlin Biennale will bring together a range of local and international artists with the aim of exploring the intersection between historical narratives and individuals’ lives. The Berlin Biennale has commissioned a piece by Norwegian-Greek artist Andreas Angelidakis entitled Crash Pad. For this, the front building of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art will be transformed into a multipurpose room and library, recreating a 19th century salon. The Biennale team’s overall goal for this year’s event is to look at Berlin as a city – its present relationship with its history, its architectural landscape and how citizens relate to both.
Various venues throughout the city. For more information, please visit the Biennale’s website.
July | Classic Open Air
3 – 7 July
The Classic Open Air Festival is a music lover’s summer dream. One of Berlin’s most beautiful squares in the historical center of the city becomes the scene for wonderful musical concerts on warm summer evenings. For a span of five nights, classic and modern melodies are played as concertgoers enjoy music surrounded by classical architecture. Organizers have planned something for everyone from a crossover concert featuring classical, film and rock music to an Italian evening of Neapolitan and Sicilian folk music including traditional serenades. The week begins with a firework show after the first concert, and the final night features German musicians.
August | Dance in August
15 – 30 August
Considered one of the most important dance festivals in Europe, Dance in August features the freshest and best in contemporary dance. Productions and performers from about a dozen different countries, world premieres, and the chance to see experimental choreography and new formats all mean that the festival gets bigger and better every year. Because of organizers’ eagerness to experiment, attendees are regularly treated to new dance experiences, which may include a mix of dance and performance, music, both still and moving images, and unusual staging. The festival director for the platform’s 26th edition will be Finnish curator Virve Sutinen.
Various venues throughout the city. For more information, please visit the festival’s website.
September | Berlin Art Week
16 – 21 September
As a city for making art, Berlin itself serves as the vision for the organizers of Berlin Art Week, where gallerists, artists, curators and institutions all come together for six days of collaboration. This is the time of year when contemporary art galleries pull out all the stops, showcasing their artists, creating new group and solo shows and putting on some magnificent exhibitions for an art-hungry public. The week’s program includes performances, exhibitions, receptions, and talks. Another special feature is the collaboration that goes on between institutions. In 2013, Berlinische Galerie, Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, KW Institute for Contemporary Art and Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin joined forces to create Painting Forever!, an exhibition examining contemporary painting in Berlin.
Various venues throughout the city. For more information, please visit the event’s website.
October | Festival of Lights
10 – 19 October
Enjoy Berlin’s brisk autumn evenings and some spectacular light projections in October when the Festival of Lights sets Berlin aglow. The Brandenburg Gate, TV Tower, Berliner Dom Cathedral, Funkturm Radio Tower and many other buildings and squares will be dazzling with colorful light projections every night. Light installation artists from Germany and abroad will be charged with creating this glittering masterpiece. In addition to special tours, organizers prepare a side program of cultural events including jazz concerts, as well as sound and light shows.
Public buildings throughout the city. For more information, please visit the festival’s website.
November | European Month of Photography
17 October – 16 November
Held every two years, the European Month of Photography transforms its host city into a massive photography exhibition. Numerous organizations and artists get involved in this citywide show, from museums, cultural institutions and galleries to embassies, German government offices, photography schools and project spaces, all pull out the picture albums to see how they can get creative with this wonderful medium. Photography is a universal art form, and the European Month of Photography does its best to showcase it. From black and white photography to contemporary video art, visitors have the opportunity to see how the genre has evolved and how it has been used to make a statement on historic, political and contemporary issues. Organizers have planned more than 100 exhibitions and invited 500 participating artists.
Various venues throughout the city. For more information, please visit the event’s website.
December | Zeughausmesse – Decorative Arts Fair
Contemporary art isn’t just about looking at pieces in museums. It’s useful in everyday life, and that’s the reason why Berlin’s Zeughausmesse for Decorative Arts and Design launched a Decorative Arts Fair. Between 80 and 90 international and German designers chosen by an expert jury present their products for sale, from jewelry and fashion to home design products. But it’s not just about the sales – there are artist talks, a design competition and honors awards that make this an important event for product designers worldwide and the interested public.
Locations tbc. For more information, please visit the event’s website.
By Jacy Meyer