Design: Rimini Berlin
From a total of 105 entries to the open, international art competition »Art in the Underground 2022/23: new urban publics«, a nine-member prize jury has selected (in an anonymized procedure) six proposals that deal with current changes in social practice:
The works, visible in public from June through August 2023, link Berlin’s underground with urban spaces above ground, as well as featuring on in-train info screens throughout the network. Like the 2020/21 edition of the competition, »Art in the Underground 2022/23: new urban publics« will focus on the qualities, limits, and potential of urban space, exploring it via a range of artworks. This time, taking its cue from the association of public squares with the common good, as a place to meet and talk, three Berlin locations and their underground stations serve as the settings for artistic interventions: Kottbusser Tor, Strausberger Platz and Rotes Rathaus. All three are architecturally striking, as well as being cut across by streets or spanned by an elevated railway. These urban spaces have different usages: traffic, shopping, communication, relaxation. The selected works seek to amplify and highlight these usages, making each site into a protagonist—as sites, occasions, and objects of alternative political self-organization.
Irene Fernandez Arcas is interested in the healing potential of art; focusing on the neoliberal exploitation of self-care, body, and mind, her work examines the desire to achieve intimacy and make connections in urban settings. A digital project by the collective image-shift from Sandy Kaltenborn, Athena Javanmardi, and Paco Camberlin counters the oversimplified media image of Kottbusser Tor as a problem zone with a view of its many-layered social fabric. Julieta Ortiz de Latierro’s three-part project consists of a photographic intervention at Kottbusser Tor subway station, a one-day workshop in a nearby park, and a video produced as part of Art in the Underground and shown on in-train info screens throughout Berlin’s public transport network. In Sunny Pfalzer’s durational performance at Strausberger Platz, three performers explore the tensions between gender diversity and the binary gaze with which queer bodies are confronted in public space. With Chargé, Sinzo Aanza, Jasmina Al-Qaisi, Falonne Mambu, Nada Tshibwabwa, Ralf Wendt, and Elsa Westreicher, six artists from Germany and the Democratic Republic of Congo, come to Strausberger Platz with performances, literature, sound works, and graphics that criticize exploitation and consumerism. In a wrestling performance in front of the Rotes Rathaus, Liminal Beast of Prey bring together education and entertainment; embedded in an urban science-fiction story, the show presents characters metaphorically fighting battles that otherwise often remain invisible.
The prize jury consisted of Stéphane Bauer, Anna Ehrenstein, Kerstin Honeit, Ute Müller-Tischler, Harry Sachs, Viron Erol Vert, Lorena Juan, Mirko Winkel, Isabelle Meiffert.
Historical development of the »Art in the Underground« competition
Originally called “Art Instead of Advertising,” the competition was first held in East Berlin in 1958, with entrants asked to submit posters for peace. The works were shown on platform billboards at Alexanderplatz underground station. Whereas many East German institutions were dissolved or renamed after 1989, this competition survived in its original form. Since the early 1990s, neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK) has been realizing projects in cooperation with Berlin’s Senate Office for Culture under the title “Art in the Underground” with artworks in or near underground stations.
The project will be accompanied by a publication.
nGbK work group: Lorena Juan, Marenka Krasomil, Isabelle Meiffert, Sandra Teitge, Mirko Winkel
Assistance: Manon Frugier
Funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe – Public Art