Berlin Art Week 2023: an event that resonates with artists, curators, and art enthusiasts alike. For one week, the city transforms into a sprawling canvas, showcasing a myriad of artistic expressions. But as the art world descends upon Berlin, a question looms large: Who gets to be a part of this illustrious event?

Berlin Art Week 2023 is not just a series of exhibitions and installations; it’s a complex ecosystem that reflects the global art scene. Established names share space with emerging talents, and high-brow art mingles with street-level creativity. Yet, the event has its critics. Many argue that it serves as a selection process, deciding who gets to enter the hallowed halls of ‘recognized art’ and who remains on the periphery.

This article aims to delve into the complexities of Berlin Art Week 2023, exploring not just its glitzy surface but also the undercurrents that shape it. We’ll look at the high-profile events that draw international attention, but we’ll also turn our gaze towards the local Berlin-based artists who find themselves overshadowed. We’ll celebrate the emerging artists who have found a platform here, and question why certain themes dominate the exhibitions.

So, as we embark on this journey through Berlin’s most anticipated art event, let’s remember that every brushstroke tells a story, and it’s time we listened to them all.

Berlin Art Week 2023 - Illustration 2 by Midjourney

The Glitz and Glamour: What Berlin Art Week 2023 Offers

Berlin Art Week 2023 is a high-profile event that attracts a global audience, but what exactly is on the menu for art enthusiasts? Let’s break it down.

High-Profile Exhibitions and Artists

The Positions Berlin Art Fair is one of the main attractions, featuring a curated selection of contemporary artists. While it offers a platform for emerging talent, it’s also a stage for established artists to showcase their latest works. However, the fair has been criticized for its focus on marketable art, often sidelining experimental or controversial works.

Special Events and Installations

The Digital Art Lab at Haus am Lützowplatz is a unique offering this year. It focuses on the intersection of art and technology, featuring works that utilize AI, virtual reality, and other digital mediums. While it’s a nod to the evolving landscape of art, it also raises questions about accessibility, as not everyone is tech-savvy.

The Role of Established Galleries and Institutions

Institutions like the Berlinische Galerie, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, and Hamburger Bahnhof serve as key venues. These institutions not only lend credibility to Berlin Art Week 2023 but also shape its content. For example, the Berlinische Galerie’s focus on modern art means that traditional or classical forms often get less attention during the event.

The Global Spotlight

Berlin Art Week 2023 receives extensive coverage from international art publications like Artforum and Artnews. While this global attention is beneficial for the artists featured, it also creates a skewed representation, often highlighting works that are already in the limelight and overshadowing local or lesser-known artists.

Berlin Art Week 2023 - Illustration 4 by Midjourney

The Underrepresented: Berlin-Based Artists Not in the Spotlight

Berlin is a hotbed of artistic talent, yet not every artist or community finds themselves in the limelight during Berlin Art Week 2023. While the event offers a platform for some, it can be a double-edged sword for others.

The Financial Barrier

The cost of participating in Berlin Art Week 2023 can be prohibitive for local artists and communities. Booth rentals, transportation of artworks, and other expenses add up, making it difficult for those without external funding to take part. Websites like Kunstleben Berlin offer some exposure for underrepresented artists, but they can’t match the reach of Berlin Art Week.

The Challenges of Gaining Recognition

Given the gatekeeping and financial barriers, artists not featured in Berlin Art Week 2023 often find it difficult to gain media attention during this period. Alternative platforms like Berlin Independents Guide offer some visibility, but they can’t compete with the event’s reach.

Artist Communities and Berlin Art Week

Berlin is home to several artist communities, each with its own unique focus and ethos. However, although they host highly interesting artists, these self-managed artist communities tend not to participate in such, ultimately strictly commercial, events as Berlin Art Week 2023.

  • B.L.O. Ateliers: Known for its diverse range of artists, this community is noticeably absent from Berlin Art Week. One could speculate that the event’s commercial focus doesn’t align with B.L.O.’s more grassroots approach.
  • Milchhof: Also tends to sit out Berlin Art Week, possibly due to the event’s high participation costs and its own focus on local engagement.
  • Haus Schwarzenberg: This community, known for its alternative art forms like street art, is often underrepresented, raising questions about the event’s scope and inclusivity.
Berlin Art Week 2023 - Illustration by Midjourney

Prevalent Themes of the Berlin Art Week 2023


One recurring theme of the Berlin Art Week 2023 is sustainability. The BAW Garten, located at the iconic Mies-van-der-Rohe-Bau of the Neue Nationalgalerie, focuses on sustainability. They’ve got food interventions, performances, talks, and screenings all centered around this theme.

History and Its Lessons

Another interesting angle is the history of Berlin’s art scene, especially in relation to the Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD. There’s a large research project aiming to delve into the history of this institution, which has been a significant player in Berlin’s development as an international art city.

Sound Art

Sound art is also getting some attention during Berlin Art Week 2023. The practice of collective listening in contemporary art is highlighted, exploring aspects of familiarity, incomplete historical narratives of sound and noise, and the beauty of diversity in listening.

Diversity in Contemporary Art

There’s also a focus on diverse forms of contemporary art, from digital art to performances and installations. Topics range from cyborg-like figures and queer performances to pollen maps and commercial aspects of art.

Berlin Art Week 2023 - imaginative exhibition visuaized by Midjourney

The Economics: Follow the Money

Funding and Its Strings

Berlin Art Week 2023 is a grand affair, but who’s pulling the purse strings? The event is a collaboration involving various stakeholders, including the Senate Department for Economics, Energy, and Public Enterprises. While this funding aims to promote Berlin as an art business hub, it raises critical questions about artistic freedom. The focus on marketability can act as a form of “economic censorship,” sidelining art that critiques the status quo or challenges the economic system. In this landscape, art that is easily sellable gains gallery representation, while more confrontational or subversive works struggle for visibility and funding.

Gentrification: The Silent Killer of Local Art

Berlin, a city celebrated for its vibrant art scene, is undergoing rapid gentrification. Former industrial spaces like distilleries are being converted into contemporary art venues. While this may seem like a win for the art community, it’s a clear sign of gentrification affecting local artists. The rising costs of living and studio spaces are pushing artists out of their neighborhoods, making it increasingly difficult for them to sustain their craft.

The Commercialization of Art

The commodification of art is another pressing issue. Exhibitions explore the role of art in modern industrial societies, questioning whether art’s socio-economic force can be reconciled with its more spiritual, quasi-transcendent capabilities. Is art losing its soul in the race for marketability?

Who Benefits the Most?

Berlin Art Week 2023 claims to be an inclusive platform that accommodates every art venue from all districts of the city. But who actually reaps the rewards? Established galleries and artists seem to have a more significant presence, overshadowing independent artists and smaller galleries.

Making the Berlin Art Week more inclusive - Illustration by Midjourney

The Paradox of the Platform: A Stage and a Wall

Berlin Art Week 2023 serves a dual role—it’s both a platform that elevates art and a barrier that can exclude. While the event showcases Berlin as a global art hub, its economics and politics can inadvertently marginalize local artists who don’t fit the “marketable” mold. The focus on sellability can act as a gatekeeper, keeping out art that challenges societal norms or questions the status quo.

A Canvas for All: Making Berlin Art Week Inclusive

If Berlin Art Week 2023 aims to be a true reflection of Berlin’s diverse art scene, it needs to open its doors wider. More grants and sponsorships for emerging artists, as well as platforms for art that critiques the system, could make the event more inclusive. Let’s not forget, art thrives when it’s a dialogue, not a monologue.

The Brushstroke on the Berlin Art Canvas

So, what does Berlin Art Week 2023 mean for the Berlin art scene? It’s a complex portrait, one that’s still being painted. The event is both a celebration and a critique—it highlights the city’s artistic vibrancy but also exposes the economic and social dynamics that can stifle creativity. As Berlin continues to evolve, so will its art week, and it’s up to us—the artists, the critics, the patrons—to shape what it will look like in the years to come.