Michel Ziegler and Dominic Eichler explain the intergenerationality and cultural politics of their programme
Where in Berlin are you based?
Since November 2014 the gallery is located in downtown West Berlin, on a tree lined street with a long history in the antiques and art trade - it’s mentioned in Theodor Fontana’s novel Effi Briest (1896) for example. It’s our third space - we started in 2008 as a guest of the collective ‘Basso', then spent four years in a former concierge’s office in Kreuzberg: a small space that made plenty of things possible. .
How did the gallery’s name come about?
‘SILBERKUPPE’ is a somewhat obscure word in German. It translates roughly as ‘silver cupola’. We noticed it on packaging from a half-chromed light-bulb produced by a former East German firm in Berlin. We liked that it was a fairly open metaphor and felt a bit DADA, and that it would only accrue meaning as we went along, rather than being too corporate or proprietary, or claiming too much from the outset.
How would you describe the gallery’s approach, or philosophy?
These days we represent 14 artists, including a designer and a choreographer, who hail from different generations and corners of the globe. The idea of having a philosophy might sound a bit grand, but we do follow our interests in art discussions which have roots in things like contextual art, institutional critique, feminism and gender studies. Social and cultural politics and the questions of form and content constantly come-up and this is something we embrace. From the beginning it was important to us to not only function but to demonstratively add to our given art context. That said, it is the artists and their work that always show us the way. If debate settles or becomes conventional, it’s probably time to start another conversation.
Several of the artists in your roster work with performance What are the challenges of supporting non-material practices?
This question was central to our dialogue with choreographer Adam Linder, from which the idea of his 'Choreographic Services' for hire emerged. Making visible and raising the problem of ‘who gets what’ and on what terms is literally part of his services. He shares with Gerry Bibby a highly conscious negotiation responding to and sometimes confounding expectations on performance art - for example that it should be an add on, or entertaining, or even free. Shahryar Nashat is best known for his video and sculpture and Adam Linder will present overlapping solo exhibitions next year at the Kunsthalle Basel that will address the frame, the status of their mediums and the interrelation between them.
What are you presenting at Focus?
It’s a three-person presentation including German artist Michaela Eichwald, British feminist Margaret Harrison and the newest artist on our roster, Anne Speier. There’s an intense dialogue between them about making visible (or not), strong women and subversive humour.
Is showing an inter-generational mix of artists important to you?
Inter-generationality is integral to our programme - we have a lot to learn and say to each other. What is the contemporary without the recent past, what is the past without the engagement of the present?
What are you currently showing in Berlin?
In the gallery we currently have our third solo exhibition with Polish born, New York-based artist Anna Ostoya. It’s called ‘Alte Sachlichkeit’. Her new paintings and collages use, amongst other things, found material from the post WWII period, as well as contemporary political imagery, integrated in abstracted compositions.
Silberkuppe are exhibiting in Focus at Frieze London.
Stand number: H26