whitehot | May 2010, Interview with Daniel Kingery and Julie McKim
By Caroline Potter
Daniel Kingery and Julie McKim like to talk. This probably came in handy as their recent show at Tape Modern, You Are Free was curated across an ocean. McKim is based in New York and Kingery has been living in Berlin for the last eight years. With two very different perspectives on the Berlin art scene and on curation in general, McKim and Kingery possess insight that is evident in the quality of the work in You Are Free. A group show that explores, among other things, the connections between visual art, music, youth and rebellion You Are Free captures moments that are both universal and incredibly personal.

Caroline Potter: As an art city Berlin is really exciting right now, coming from New York the art world feels much more accessible.

Julie McKim: I mean Germans are more formal, so I think there’s that.

Daniel Kingery: Things are a lot less formal though, I think the art scene is just a lot more laid back. Maybe four years or so ago, it got super-professionalized and then galleries from all over the world started moving here and opening space because it was cool, they could access a lot of artists and it was relatively affordable.

DK: People have the freedom to develop on their own terms in Berlin. That always has the negative side as well, a lot of sort of half artists. The great thing about Berlin is the people who aren’t really very serious do end up doing something else.

JM: The thing for me in New York is that it’s really necessary to find community. Community has been really key, and in Berlin it seems like community is a more natural possibility. I think in Berlin, I probably could go to a few bars and have a dialogue and meet artists where as, I don’t think it’s possible in New York in the same way. You come to New York for this very specific time in the art world, and I don’t know if its over, but it’s different. But people are still always going there. And we’re all searching for something that I kind of found in Berlin.

CP: There are a lot of alternative gallery spaces in Berlin, do you think that traditional gallery spaces will become obsolete here?

DK: Off spaces are actually kind of disappearing here, because Berlin has been developed so much. In Mitte not that long ago, there was more space then you could possibly ever want. It’s hard to say, I guess it’s being redefined. There’s not as much free spaces that you can just move in and do whatever you want. What I always tell people is that Berlin is always different, but it’s always good. Things just move to other parts of the city, and take a somewhat different form. I think a lot of off spaces as a purely not for profit thing, it’s more difficult to do now. And most spaces that are quote on, quote off spaces are just considered off spaces because they’re not yet as commercially successful. And most spaces, at this point, have some kind of a commercial intention. Or you have to do things, like what Program does, where they really apply for funding.

JM: That’s the thing with spaces in New York, too, if you decide that you’re going to be an off space, you’re really going to need to be funded. And then you spend a great deal of your time applying for grants. And it becomes this other thing, where the art doesn’t intentionally become secondary, but the time to actually work with the artists, curate the shows, it seems like you’re spending so much time to just fund this space.

CP: In curating for a space like Tape were you concerned that the work would become secondary to the party?

DK: That was definitely a danger of the space. I’ve heard other people say similar things, that there was also the danger that the party sort of takes over the exhibition. But a lot of people told me that, and I found this to be a great compliment, that the exhibition remained an exhibition the whole time. And that the pieces in the show held people’s attention, even when everyone was totally wasted at two in the morning.

JM: We picked work that held its own and did its own thing so well. And I liked it because it wasn’t just music, people did really strong painting, collage and video work. And we also made sure that there was a female point of view, we didn’t want to make it too male-centric.

DK: Which happens really quickly. If you go to art schools it’s like 60% women and if you look at any gallery program, even the ones run by women, it’s like three quarters men. And I think that the good thing about the show, even though it was still majority men, was that some of the by far strongest pieces were from women.

JM: We were premiering pieces by Delia Gonzales and Annika Larson. Annika’s piece is shocking and poetic, I think she’s aware of it but I’m not sure if she’s going to ever explain it completely. And Delia’s piece was a whole other thing. It was gorgeous, visually and also the fact that she composed the music adds a whole other level to it as well.

DK: When I filmed Alejandro Almanza’s cinder block disco ball, after the show was empty, you could hear Delia’s piece in the background and the shadows of his piece were so beautiful and they were perfectly in time to Delia’s soundtrack just by pure coincidence.

JM: I said that to Alejandro, you had an accidental collaboration, but it was very poetic and beautiful. I think it’s important for group exhibitions that each piece can kind of play off each other. Somehow the pieces expand the definition, they create a dialogue, they expand the initial intent.

- Caroline Potter
Whitehot Magazine's Berlin Editor, Ana Finel Honigman, is pleased present a series of reviews and interviews by studio art students of the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The students are spending a semester abroad in Berlin and contributing to Ana Finel Honigman’s contemporary art course “Intro to Reality: Art World Institutions in Context.” The articles are written as part of Ms. Finel Honigman’s class and selected for publication based on their excellence.

Installation View, YOU ARE FREE, Tape Modern, Berlin, 2010. Curated by Julie McKim and Daniel Kingery. Artists l-r Jan Christensen, Kate Gilmore, Marc Bijl, Viktor Timofeev, Alejandro Almanza Pereda, Christian Jankowski, Andy Graydon

Back to Top