Exhibition Club Berlin

Photography and Electronic Music

„Berlin is to electronic music what Florence was to Renaissance art: crucible, arbiter, patron“
(Nick Paumgarten, Berlin Nights, The New Yorker, 3/2014)

Sven Marquardt Foto: © Sven Marquardt

Techno was the youth culture that united East and West in Berlin after the fall of communism in East Germany. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, unused plots of land and buildings were ready to be filled with new life by clubs, bars, galleries, workshops and studios. Berlin became the epicenter of a new club culture which attracted international attention with clubs and later with the Love Parade. The club scene was given another boost at the beginning of the last decade. Thousands of Techno tourists were attracted into the city every weekend by cut-price European flights, a new wave of clubs like Bar 25, Watergate and the Berghain – and parties that never seemed to end. Artists, label operators, party organizers and promoters from all over the world moved to Berlin, constantly contributing new ideas for the city's sound – a development that continues to this day.

Curated by Heiko Hoffmann and Alfons Hug, Club Berlin brings these impulses to Singapore – with photography and electronic music that will transform DECK a container arts space for the month of March.

Presented in way to engage both sight and sound, public will see photographs of the Berlin Club culture of the 90s by Martin Eberle, accompanied by music by renowned DJs Rodhad (Dystopian), Head High, Massimiliano Pagliara, Answer Code Request, Tale Of Us, David August and Modeselektor. In addition is the Boiler Room, a video on the underground music platform with performances of DJs La Fleur, Len Faki, Discodromo, Sarah Farina, Mano Le Tough, Lucy.

The highlight is a photographic media installation by the infamous Berghain Club member, photographer Sven Marquardt, with music accompaniment by Marcel Dettmann, one of the most influential proponents of contemporary techno.


Sven Marquardt by Ole Westermann Foto: © Ole Westermann

SVEN MARQUARDT has been part of the Berlin Techno scene since the early 1990s. Born in East Berlin in 1962, he had previously been a punk and worked as a photographer. After reunification he started working as a bouncer, first at his brother DJ Jauche's parties, then at the Snax and its fetish parties, the Ostgut club which developed out of it, and, finally, at the Berghain, which is still Berlin's most important club today, eleven years later. In the GDR (former Easter Germany) Sven Marquardt photographed his punk friends in their black make-up on the wastelands and derelict backyards of East Berlin, documenting a subculture that officially was not supposed to exist. Since 2003 he has been photographing the DJs, bar staff and fellow bouncers at the Berghain. His pictures look like they were taken at night – even the ones that were shot in daylight. They are dark, almost existentialist-looking photographs. Marquardt likes to stage his motifs on a large scale.
MARCEL DETTMANN would travel as a teenager to clubs like the Tresor and the E-Werk every weekend. His role models include local DJs like Jonzon and Rok who, unlike Dettmann, have not made an international breakthrough. Parallel to his DJ career, Marcel Dettmann has worked at Hard Wax, an institution among record shops. Today, the Berghain resident is one of the most successful international Techno DJs, and spins over 100 times a year. Since 2006 he has also been producing his own music for such labels as Ostgut Ton, 50 Weapons and his own company MDR, among others.
CLUB BERLIN shows a joint installation from Sven Marquardt and Marcel Dettmann, curated by Alfons Hug: Slide projections of Marquardt's black-and-white photographs can be seen in a black room with a soundtrack specially mixed by Marcel Dettmann. Marquardt and Dettmann met as long as 15 years ago, when Marcel Dettmann began his DJ residency at the Ostgut, the Berghain's predecessor. They have also worked together for photographs.


Dirt inside by Martin Eberle Foto: © Martin Eberle

MARTIN EBERLE moved to Berlin in 1992. He joined the team running the Galerie Berlintokyo venue and was soon using his camera to document the city's improvised clubs and well-hidden cellar bars. The photographs in the exhibition come from Eberle's book Temporary Spaces (published by Die Gestalten Verlag, Berlin 2001) and show examples of the nomadic club culture between 1996 and 2001. Before professional, permanent, purpose-designed clubs like the Berghain or Watergate made such a big impression with integrated sound-and-lighting concepts and established Berlin's present-day reputation as a club metropolis, these venues exerted a huge influence on the reunited Berlin's image and made the city a magnet for DJs, musicians and other artists. There were new spaces for new music. Martin Eberle's photographs document the venues of Berlin's short-lived 90s club culture – places without which the city's current party scene would be inconceivable. The photographs of the interiors – some brightly lit, some dipped in colored twilight – show no partying people, no DJs or bar staff. And yet it is precisely the emptiness of the rooms, especially seen in retrospect, that reveals their individuality. The clubs of the time took over empty and run-down workshops, banks, shops and power stations in East Berlin and redesigned them for their own purposes. Some of these clubs and bars – like the 103 on Monbijoustrasse – lasted for less than a year, yet they became permanently etched on the memories of a whole generation. They were planned from the outset as a temporary use for buildings with unresolved ownership issues.

BOILER ROOM parties have been taking place in Berlin since 2011: a series of parties in which DJs and live acts play to a relatively small audience, but reach a global audience via a live internet stream. The parties themselves are for invited guests only – largely friends and fans of the participating DJs – and free of charge. They take place at weekdays starting at 8 p.m. and have little in common with the exuberance and uncontrollability for which Berlin's nightlife is famous. Where photography is otherwise banned, the audience here pose for the web cameras. The DJs play with their backs to the dancers so that they can be better seen; their sets rarely last longer than an hour, and the party is often already over at midnight. Nevertheless, the Boiler Room parties have quickly developed into an important part of the Berlin club culture. This has less to do with the local parties than with the popularity of the advertising-funded live streams. Tens of thousands of participants all over the world follow the parties and discuss them in chat rooms or on Twitter. The archived podcasts of the parties on YouTube sometimes reach an audience of over a million; they have made Boiler Room one of the most important institutions of electronic club music. The recordings of the Boiler Room sets that can be seen at the Club Berlin exhibition range from Watergate resident La Fleur to Berghain's regular DJ Len Faki; from Discodromo, operators of the gay party series "Cocktail d'Amore," to footwork and bass DJ Sarah Farina; from House DJ Mano Le Tough from Ireland to the Berlin-based Italian Techno producer Lucy.

THE DJ-SZENE IN BERLIN is more diverse and more international today than ever. New producers and DJs are still constantly coming to Berlin to live in the city for at least a few months. They ensure that the sound in the clubs is constantly developing – even if House and Techno remain the styles that dominate the city's nightlife. Mixes from seven Berlin-based DJs can be heard continuously at the Club Berlin exhibition and, together with the Boiler Room videos, give an acoustic impression of Berlin's current club culture. Among the music that can be heard are mixes of established acts – like Modeselektor from Brandenburg or the duo Tale Of Us, who have only been living in Berlin for a few years but have quickly become one of the internationally most sought-after House DJs – as well as relative newcomers like Answer Code Request, who publishes for Berghain's own label Ostgut Ton, or David August, who produces for labels like Innervisions and Diynamic. Club music has long-since become accepted by mainstream society – both in Berlin and in many other places of the world. But even if Berlin musicians such as Paul Kalkbrenner have long been working in the mainstream, and the city successfully uses its club culture for image marketing, there are still enough musicians doing new things and exploring niches.

The DJs, curated by Heiko Hoffman you can find in the related links on the right.

Club Berlin – Artist Talks

Temporal Space in the Urban City – Artist talk with Martin Eberle
5 March 2016
2:00pm – 3:30pm
Photographer Martin Eberle (b. 1966, Augsburg) moved to Berlin in 1992 where he photographed the city’s nomadic club culture in the 90s. The photographs of the interiors – some brightly lit, some dipped in colored twilight – show no partying people, no DJs or bar staff. These venues, unrecognizable from the outside and in the daytime, are places without which the city’s current party scene would be inconceivable.
Register: https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/temporal-space-in-the-urban-city-talk-by-photographer-martin-eberle-from-club-berlin-tickets-21656777003

Berlin Subculture – Dialog with Sven Marquardt, facilitated by Heiko Hoffmann
5 March 2016
4:00pm – 5:30pm
Meet Sven Marquardt (b. 1962, East Berlin), the merciless gatekeeper of Berghain–Berlin’s top techno club. Facilitated by Heiko Hoffman (Editor in chief at Groove Magazine), Marquardt will give a first-hand account of his life as a punk, photographer, and the public face of Berlin’s club scene.
Register: https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/berlin-subculture-berghain-dialogue-with-sven-marquardt-facilitated-by-heiko-hoffmann-tickets-21658378794