KioskShop berlin (KSb) in the year 2007 (Photo: Semjon + Silke Helmerdig)
On 5 November 2021, the installation-based long-term art object “KioskShop berlin”, which was hidden for 11 years, will be reactivated in Berlin-Mitte and made accessible again for a short period of time. From December 2000 to spring 2010, the Berlin artist and current gallery owner Semjon H. N. Semjon had uniquely connected the retail trade and the art world with his long-term project “KioskShop berlin (KSb)” in Berlin-Mitte. Since its opening in October 2001 until spring 2010, numerous visitors have visited the “KioskShop” and still have fond memories of this installation.
In a roundabout way via another complex art installation – “Construction of Modernity: The Berlin Collection Dr. Carl Theodor Gottlob Grouwet (1919)” – “KioskShop” was enclosed in 2010 by walls representing the collection’s salon and used as the gallery’s street salon for eleven years at the gallery opening of Semjon Contemporary in September.
In October 2021, the walls were taken down to allow “KioskShop” to reappear as a whole. The reopening is planned for 5 November 2021. A termination of the gallery space in the meantime by Berggruen Holding, which had acquired the building, prompted Semjon to show his own work in Schröderstraße after a ten-year artistic sabbatical – presumably for the last time. The future of this installation is uncertain, as the “KioskShop” will probably have to be broken up and destroyed when the gallery moves out. The work of art was created in situ for this location; among other things, the wooden floorboards were replaced with a vibration-free screed floor, the terrazzo floor was made by the artist himself, and the self-built shop furniture was screwed, filled and painted to form a whole. The installation of a staircase and a heating system without interfering with the shop’s architecture were also part of the project.
For over ten years, the artwork has been an integral part of the development of Schröderstraße: The rooms of the “KioskShop” were the third rented shop unit in the street in November 2000. It was only 11 years later that all the shops in Schröderstraße were filled with life.
The artwork “KioskShop berlin”
On the one hand, the installation, which is designed to be permanent, simulates a small neighbourhood shop; on the other hand, the artwork plays with perceptions and triggers reflections on the world of goods and their distribution.
At the centre of the walk-in artwork are countless “Product Sculptures”. These are product packages reworked with bleached beeswax, mostly including their contents: Brandt Zwieback, Ariel detergent, Coca-Cola cans, newspapers and magazines, sweets, cigarettes and much more. Like in a shop, they are arranged serially in shop furniture designed and built for the purpose. The picturesque white and alien-looking product sculptures, the minimalist design of the white furniture and the brightly lit space create distance and transcend the well-known shop ambience into another level of perception and cognition. “As in front of a painting, distance is demanded from the viewer and curiosity is aroused at the same time” (Jan Maruhn in a text on “KioskShop”, ca. 2001).
The design was to be an abstracting synthesis of perceptions from the memory of the long-forgotten colonial goods shop to the post-war corner shop and today’s Späti, which is predominantly run by migrants. The installation was designed as a work-in-progress. Like a real shop, new ‘products’ were constantly being added, which could also be purchased. For this, Semjon had developed a presentation system that, on the one hand, physically protected the sensitive artwork and, on the other, increased its added value visually and metaphorically through its showcase character. Parallel to the main artwork, Semjon set up a ‘MultipleShop’, which offered further, mostly editioned objects or also series-produced “Product Paintings”, sometimes also artworks by the ‘Intervention Artists’.
The “Interventions” series with guest artists was initiated by Semjon in 2003 to test whether it is possible to present ‘foreign’ artworks by other artists in a clearly pre-formulated exhibition context, such as “KioskShop”, without stifling them or creating arbitrary chaos. This concept has been successful, and by spring 2011 more than 30 “interventions” had been carried out with guests. This experience led, among other things, to the later founding of the gallery Semjon Contemporary.
“KioskShop berlin” was financed by a subscription system supported by around 20 sponsors. In addition, the artist was able to convince both the Capital City Cultural Fund and the Berlin Senate to provide substantial funding for the project. The sales of the “Product Sculptures” and the multiples and “Product Paintings” also contributed to the financing of the ambitious art project. The “KSb” has been open to the public every day from Tuesday to Saturday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the years.
In order for Semjon H.N. Semjon’s “KioskShop berlin (KSb)” to survive at its historic location, the artist is currently pursuing several strategies. Among other things, he is trying to convince the building’s owner and art collector Nicolas Berggruen to save the artwork by continuing the lease. At the same time, Semjon wants to enter into an art alliance with his artists, the friends of the gallery and the KioskShop, as well as collectors of the gallery artists and art people from Berlin and around the world, in order to intensify communication about it in the analogue and digital world and in forums and to develop it into an effective force.
KioskShop berlin (KSb) – Resurrection after 11 years
Friday, 5th November, 7 – 9:30 pm
expected until 22.12.2021
Semjon Contemporary, Schröderstraße 1, 10117 Berlin-Mitte
The 2G rule applies (vaccinated / recovered)