Berlin, a city that creates artists

Practical function and symbolic function of
a territory in contemporary art creation

The city of Berlin represents the paradox of being an important city for art and artists while simultaneously it occupies a place on the fringes of the art market. In my research on the visual arts in Berlin since the reunification, I explore this paradox starting from the artistic dynamics, taken in their context, to determine how they confirm, contradict or give new directions to debates and theories on the global social evolution of the Western world since the collapse of the communist system.

The project also seeks to establish to what extent the artistic work has been conditioned by the global movements of reunified German society and, conversely, what specificities have determined the evolution of the art world. My research also charts if and how the changes in the art market differ from changes other economic and intellectual activities.

Indeed, art in Berlin after the reunification had to assimilate two conflicting plastic traditions: on the one hand a tradition governed (but not monopolized) by the market and the oppositions that the market generates and, on the other hand, a tradition that considers art as a collective ideological tool under the global (but not total) control of the state and, in turn, the oppositions against this orientation. This research attempts to define the artistic forms that this confrontation generated and to understand how and why these artistic forms imposed themselves to the detriment of other possible plastic responses. In this way, my research helps us to better grasp the divergences and convergences between these evolutions and the pre-existing traditions, as well as to establish which tendencies have disappeared and which have continued to survive beneath the surface.

The richness of the project requires a transdisciplinary and comparative methodology, as well as a thorough knowledge of the realities of contemporary art and its "organization". The first part of this survey analysed the topographical aspects and the evolutions that art and artists have provoked in reunified Berlin. In the second and last part of this research I intend to focus on the artistic events that have taken place in Berlin since the reunification, analysing the works presented in these events, their evolutions, as well as the conditions of presentation. Choosing particular dates during this 30-year period, I will look as well at the participants and the organizers of these different activities.