For the very first time, the notoriously selective Berghain nightclub in Berlin will open its doors to the public as it transforms into a contemporary art gallery. Collector Christian Boros collaborated with the iconic techno venue to create ‘Studio Berlin’.
Like many other countries, Germany’s nightlife ground to a halt in March and has remained closed ever since due to the worldwide coronavirus outbreak. Berghain’s exhibition opens from 9 September 2020 and aims to entice visitors from the age of 16 and even “grandmas with zimmer frames”.
Over 80 Berlin-based artists will fill the club’s 3,500 square metre premises with artworks ranging from photography and video installations, to sculptures and paintings. Celebrated exhibitors include Olafur Eliasson, Tacita Dean and Wolfgang Tillmans. Boros has also featured up-and-coming artists in the space, such as Shirin Sabahi, Christine Sun Kim and Sandra Mujinga.
“For three months during the confinement period we were speaking to artists on the phone every day. Suddenly everyone had time. I spoke to Olafur Eliasson for three hours on Facetime—the only limit was that the phone battery ran down,” Boros recalled. “The artists were all in their studios instead of on aeroplanes. We wanted to show this incredible artistic production. Berlin was frozen, so why not think differently? Why not work together?”
Housed in an old power plant, Berghain became legendary from the early noughties for its infamously picky bouncers who readily turn away punters that they deemed unsuitable.
“The club evolved from the gay scene in Berlin in the nineties. It’s important to me we preserve some of that heritage, that it still feels like a welcoming place for the original sort of club-goers,” explained celebrity bouncer and photographer Sven Marquart. “If we were just a club full of models, pretty people all dressed in black, it would be nice to look at for a half an hour, but god, that would be boring. It would feel less tolerant, too.”
The Boros Foundation has primarily funded ‘Studio Berlin’ with ticket sales going towards supporting the club. A number of Berlin venues have received emergency funds of around €81,000 (£73,000) from the senate during the covid-19 crisis, but organisers say they are still struggling to pay employees.
Online booking is now mandatory for the exhibition’s guided tours, which comply with new health and safety standards. In these uncertain times, curators hope the exhibition will provide visitors with “a space for contemplation and production”.