— BERILN III —
INTERVIEW: ELIZABETH BEER OF PROJECT NO. 8
One of our friends at Project No. 8, Elizabeth Beer, is a partner at Arratia, Beer Gallery in Berlin with her old friend Euridice Arratia, and we paid a visit while we were there. You enter the gallery through one of the cathedral-like driveway-doorways characteristic of Berlin, and once inside you get a sense of some of the immaterial essence between what ends up in the New York shops, including No. 8a, an elegant, mischievous answer to a travel shop at Ace Hotel New York. We asked Elizabeth and Euridice about the gallery, its history, and hanging out in Berlin.
What led you to open a gallery — do either of you have any history with it, or did it just seem like the right thing to do?
Euridice has a curatorial background and Elizabeth came from a mix of design and film. We curated our first show together in 2005 at Roebling Hall called “FearGear” which included a range of artists and designers like Patty Chang, 2x4, Boudicca, Mark Borthwick, Lucy Orta, Jean Shin and Sissel Tolaas. When Euridice moved to Berlin, she wanted to keep developing certain curatorial projects we had already been working on in New York. Opening a space seemed the right thing to do and Berlin offered a great platform to experiment and work with a group of talented and risk-taking artists. At first we thought about opening a not-for-profit project space. Opening a gallery in Berlin just turned out to be easier. As we had no experience with the commercial art world we just did it.
Does the building or neighborhood where the gallery is have any history that interests you?
The gallery is located in Mehringdamm 55, Kreuzberg. Before the fall of the wall, Kreuzberg was one of the most progressive areas of the West. Now it is an area of great cultural diversity and many artists have their studios nearby. The gallery is housed in the Sarotti Hof a former chocolate factory and landmark building.
Do you find working with artists in Berlin different than NYC?
Artists living in Berlin are not under the same financial stress as the artists living in New York. In broad terms, the art community in Berlin is less hierarchical and more democratic than the one in NY. There is also more cross-pollination amongst the different disciplines. For example, many artists here participate in the alternative music scene or collaborate with musicians. It seems that there is more time to talk and brainstorm. No one reschedules appointments or meetings.
When you’re not working, what are some of your favorite adventures, hangouts, and places to find good food and drink in Berlin?
Summer in Berlin is the best and there is nothing like getting together with a bunch of friends for a picnic at Tempelhof Park (the old airport) and then ride bikes on the runway surrounded by Fascist architecture. To unwind: the best is to spend a few hours in a Hammam. There are many in the city. For the best cocktails: Würgeengel. Each cocktail takes like 10 minutes to prepare so it requires patience. For food: I keep it simple. For a quick bite I go to Yam Yam, the Korean restaurant across the street from where I live. For a fluffy, delicious Wiener Schnitzel: Alpenstück (also in the neighborhood). An old time favorite: Jolesch (Kreuzberg). A lot of good dancing and drinking takes place in private apartments or studios turned into semi-illegal bars and clubs for the night.
We will definitely hit you up for a tour when we’re back…
Wednesday by Carmen Herrera (1978, acrylic on canvas), on view at Arratia, Beer through April 23