Elective Affinities: Berlin Art Hits Minneapolis

With ‘Goethe in the Skyways’, a year of exhibitions in an unusual slice of urban architecture in the US Midwest

‘Hanne Lippard’, 2019, exhibition view at Goethe in the Skyways. Texts by Miriam Karraker, Chris Martin, Mary Moore Easter and Lara Mimosa Montes. Courtesy: Goethe Pop Up Minneapolis

Art in urban infrastructure is nothing new, but it’s not every day that German culture infiltrates the skyways of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. ‘Goethe in the Skyways’ – a series of exhibitions, events and interventions curated by Berlin-born Sandra Teitge and funded by the Goethe-Institute – is a yearlong pop-up gallery in a once-vacant retail space within the skyway system of Minneapolis. These upper-level transparent corridors over downtown streets began connecting buildings in the 1960s, and now link 80 city blocks – in brutally frigid Minnesota winters, a good thing.

‘The skyways are a microcosm of what’s happening on the street’, says Teitge. ‘They’re also strangely disconnected, chaotic, and irrational.’ Launched in October 2018 and running until September 2019, GIS has mounted exhibitions featuring mostly Berlin-based artists like Constant Dullaart, Karl Holmqvist, Hanne Lippard, as well as artist Laure Prouvost (who is representing France in this year’s Venice Biennale). Many have collaborated with artists based in Minneapolis.

‘Hanne Lippard’, 2019, exhibition view at Goethe in the Skyways. Courtesy: Goethe Pop Up Minneapolis

The project commemorates the 30 years since the Berlin wall fell. Teitge is also keen on activating multidisciplinary art, especially sound, in a city more known for its museums, theatre and music than its art galleries. Hybridity – mixing disparate communities within a private-public space – is another mission, and so far a successful one. According to artistic producer Sarah Peterson, openings see initially perplexed shoppers and office workers joining art people who normally avoid the corporate skyway world.

I’m a Minnesota kid gone Berliner, and passed through ‘Goethe In the Skyways’ this winter. Seeing work by some of my favourite Berlin artists transplanted into the urban pathways that marked my childhood made my worlds collide. But this collision is part of the project’s point for everyone, isn’t it?

Goethe in the Skyways runs until September 2019. Hanne Lippard’s exhibition can be seen through 29 April 2019.

Kimberly Bradley is a writer and editor based in Berlin and Vienna. 

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