Introducing PRAXES

Jennifer Russell

Nestled in the shadow of the Brutalist church tower of St Agnes in Kreuzberg, you’ll find PRAXES Center for Contemporary Art – a recently opened not-for-profit research and exhibition space, where, as if weighed down by the looming architecture, things move at a slower pace. Featuring two unrelated artistic practices for cycles of six months, the exhibitions gradually evolve and develop, providing the time and space for individual artworks as well as relationships between them to fully flourish.

Stepping into the simple and stark rooms at PRAXES is not to encounter a loud and abrasive

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challenge to conventional exhibition formats, but the center is nonetheless revolutionary in its own right. At a time where superficiality is often the result of the perpetual rush of art institutions, PRAXES instead offers a perspective on art with breadth and depth, which cannot be absorbed in one go or in one place. To take full advantage of what is offered, PRAXES’ exhibitions require revisiting – physically, returning to the space throughout the exhibition cycles, attending events, and exploring their online material from home – as well as mentally, continuously questioning and developing one’s impressions and understandings of the artworks presented throughout the cycles. Cycle 1, which opened August 31st, showcases Irish artist Gerard Byrne for his very first exhibition in Berlin, and German artist Jutta Koether, who has only just recently moved back to her home country after many years abroad.

Still from Gerard Byrne: ‘*ZAN -T185 r.1: (Interview) v.1, no. 4 – v.2, no. 6, 19 (1969 -Feb. 1972); (Andy Warhol’s (Interview) v.2, no. 21 – v.3, no. 9′ (2007).

Today marks the center’s first Parlor, in connection with the opening of the second module in Gerard Byrne’s cycle, entitled Older Works. Here, Byrne will give a talk along with PRAXES’ directors Rhea Dall and Kristine Siegel. Illustrative of the highly theatrical focus of Byrne’s practice, the second module sees the downstairs floor transformed, shrouded in darkness and illuminated with stage-lighting. Three artworks will be presented – a film, *ZAN -T185 r.1: (Interview) v.1, no. 4 – v.2, no. 6, 19 (1969 -Feb. 1972); (Andy Warhol’s (Interview) v.2, no. 21 – v.3, no. 9, a new photograph that forms part of his ongoing Newsstand series, and finally a reconstruction of a 1961 prop by Alberto Giacometti for Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

Jutta Koether: “Luise” (detail), 2013. Courtesy of Campoli Presti.

Venture upstairs to view Jutta Koether’s exhibition, bright daylight accentuating the transition from below. Viktoria, the first part of a triptych, is the first work on show – a floating, transparent vessel enclosing scattered paraphernalia, souvenirs, and personal trinkets, alternately accompanied by two paintings, Mad Garland Berlin (#1 WTF) and Alostrael, that play off and against the sculpture. Mirrors on the walls, echoing the small compact mirror within Viktoria, encourage reflection and highlight parallels. The next module in Koether’s exhibition, featuring the second part of the triptych, Luise, will open October 12.

Extended hours during Berlin Art Week/ abc (20-22 September):
Friday – Saturday: 11:00-21:30
Sunday: 11:00-18:00

For more information, have a look at their website and like their facebook page. And for a look at tonight’s opening, check out the facebook event.