The fourth outpost of Fotografiska, a renowned photography museum group known for its eclectic programming and for displaying both emerging artists and big-name talent opened in Berlin last month. (Artists like Andy Warhol and Annie Leibovitz have had shows at the other locations.)
The 1908 building was originally an upscale department store, but it was badly damaged during World War II bombings. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, it became a well-known artist squat and residence called the Kunsthaus Tacheles, with studios, galleries, bars, and nightclub spaces where raves and concerts were frequent. The artists who occupied it protected it from demolition.
It took years to renovate the historic structure; one of the few areas left untouched was the central staircase, which is covered with graffiti from the 1990s, as well as punk stickers and posters.
“For Berliners, this building was a symbol of artistic freedom and a testament to the city’s vibrant alternative culture,” said Karolina Dmowska, global vice president of business development and partnerships at Fotografiska.
In its first few weeks, Fotografiska Berlin has launched three exhibitions, including one group show and two solo shows (Candice Breitz’s video installation Whiteface and Juliana Huxtable’s -Ussyphilia). The group exhibition, Nude, explores depictions of the naked body in contemporary photography through the lens of 30 female-identifying artists. “This is a deliberate effort to challenge the predominantly male and sexualized perspectives commonly seen in media,” Dmowska told AFAR. “The show also confronts conventional beauty standards, offering a liberating experience in an era where idealized body images can distort self-perception.”
On average, Fotografiska Berlin will rotate exhibitions every four to six weeks, staggering the changes hall by hall rather than updating all at once. Some of the exhibitions are local and will stay local; others will travel between the other Fotografiska outposts in New York, Stockholm, and Tallinn (and a new Shanghai location when it opens later this year).
The next upcoming exhibit, Impressions, was done in partnership with Autograph Collection Hotels. The project tapped four photographers who stayed at Autograph Collection Hotels in Berlin, Oklahoma City, Tokyo, and San Pedro. During their residencies, the artists (Jonas Bendiksen, Cristina de Middel, Gregory Halpern, and Alessandra Sanguinetti) explored their assigned cities and created a collection that shows them through their lens. Impressions was displayed at Fotografiska, New York, in August and will officially open in Berlin on November 16. Select Autograph Collection Hotels will also feature the pieces, including Grand Bohemian Lodge Greenville in South Carolina; the Press Hotel in Portland, Maine; Bankside Hotel in London; and Nanjing, Jiangning in Nanjing, China.
The six-story building is more than an exhibition space. It includes a couple of bars, a fine-dining restaurant, a café, a stage with a dance floor, and several lounge areas.
“We want it to be an approachable gathering place, where people can experience art and then stay and have a drink,” Fotografiska Berlin’s director, Yousef Hammoudah, said. He added that the 53,000-square-foot space will allow for conferences, artist talks, performances, poetry readings, and other events.
In the weeks since opening, the museum has hosted a series of artist talks with creators such as Candice Breitz, Juliana Huxtable, Evelyna Bencicova, Angelica Dass, and Denisse Ariana Perez. It’s also had DJ nights and featured performers like Peaches, an electronic musician who happened to work in the building roughly 20 years ago. To bring her experience with the historic building full circle, she started her performance with a video she’d produced in the building years prior.
How to visit
Fotografiska Berlin is open daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets cost €14-16 for adults (depending on the day of the week), €8 for people 65 years old and up and 25 years and under; entry is free for children 12 years old and under.
Where to stay
Book now: Hotel Luc, Autograph Collection
If you’re traveling to Berlin and keen on seeing the new Fotografiska, consider staying at Hotel Luc, opposite the French Dom cathedral in Berlin’s Friedrichstadt neighborhood. The Autograph Collection Hotel is where photographer Jonas Bendiksen stayed during his residency while working on the Impressions project, and guests staying there receive complimentary admission to the museum, as well as priority reservations, discounts on Fotografiska programmings, and a free happy hour beverage at the museum bar. The hotel also has a lending program, where guests have complimentary access to Lomography 35mm film cameras and film rolls to use while in Berlin, should they feel inspired to create their own photos.