The exhibition project Festival! by Esther Schipper and Mehdi Chouakri begins with the friendship between artists and their two gallery owners. It builds a bridge over 25 years and new beginnings, over personal, formal and conceptual relationships and connections yet to be discovered.
Image above: Festival! takes place at Mehdi Chouakri in Charlottenburg
The start: Twenty-five years ago Esther Schipper and Mehdi Chouakri had both recently arrived in Berlin. Esther Schipper had opened her space on Auguststraße in 1995, but still traveled back and forth to her Cologne gallery. Mehdi Chouakri studied or had just finished his art history studies in Paris and was visiting the city. When he then opened his own gallery in Berlin in 1996, their friendship grew, they shared their mother tongue, the experience of being relative outsiders in the city, but also many cultural references. In addition, there were common intellectual interests, similar affinities to the art that emerged in the 1990s, and many friendships that existed between the artists* in their respective programmes.
Last March, an exhibition by Saâdane Afif in the Pièce Unique series of Mehdi Chouakri Esther Schippers’ gallery attracted particular attention: she was enthusiastic about both the work and the concept of space. When she told Mehdi Chouakri about it, the idea of a collaboration was born. Opened in 2017, the smaller of his two rooms in Mommsenstrasse in Berlin-Charlottenburg, with its two narrow rooms and library, combines the imperfections and charm of an exhibition space that is decidedly not white-cube. Here Mehdi Chouakri presented his series Pièce Unique, individual works by artists from his gallery, as well as projects by other galleries that were guests.
But 2020 is no ordinary year, and the project, which was originally planned for a later date, has now developed into a collection of stories of affinities that unfold in a two-weekly rhythm, bringing together one artist from each gallery. Angela Bulloch and Gerwald Rockenschaub will kick off the project. The artists, who have exhibited together in the past, share in a certain way a formal vocabulary that is influenced by both minimalism and the digital. Angela Bulloch analyses the structures that determine our social behaviour and questions them with a sustainable conceptual approach. Her work spans across many media and reveals her interest in systems, patterns and rules as well as her ongoing preoccupation with the history of forms and human interaction. The series of her more recent sculptures combines her interest in the logic of geometry and seriality with a graphic quality.
Originally known as part of the so-called neo-geo movement that emerged in the early 1980s, Gerwald Rockenschaub’s unorthodox approach to deeply rooted expectations of visual perception is essential to his approach today – he always tries to subvert them in a subtle, technically precise way. The pronounced approach of his colours, forms and above all his artificial, synthetic materials to the world of product design is as familiar as it is unsettling.
This is followed by Isa Melsheimer and N.Dash, who share a different approach to the materiality of their works, then Anri Sala and Saâdane Afif, who are very good friends, and finally Ari Benjamin Meyers, whose practice, which is influenced by his training as a conductor, combines modular improvisation with works by Charlotte Posenenske.
+++ KEEP IN MIND > stay safe wear masks +++
FESTIVAL! A project by Esther Schipper and Mehdi Chouakri
12. June to 6. August 2020 | One new exhibition every two weeks
Mehdi Chouakri, Eingang: Mommsenstrasse 4, 10623 Berlin-Charlottenburg
Angela Bulloch | Gerwald Rockenschaub – Opening on Friday, 12. June, 12 – 6 pm
Isa Melsheimer | N. Dash from Friday, June 26, 2020
Anri Sala | Saâdane Afif from Friday, 10 July 2020
Ari Benjamin Meyers | Charlotte Posenenske from Friday, July 24, 2020