English / Deutsch

May 2024

Axel Wieder and Gabriele Horn, photo: Victoria Tomaschko

Axel Wieder to become the new Director of the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art

Axel Wieder, former director of Bergen Kunsthall, will become the new director of the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. The selection committee chaired by Katharina Grosse unanimously decided for Wieder as the successor of Gabriele Horn on April 22, 2024. Wieder will take office on August 1, 2024, and from then on manage operations in preparation for the 13th Berlin Biennale, which will be curated by Zasha Colah and take place in summer of 2025.

Axel Wieder, new Director of the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art:

“The Berlin Biennale is one of the most outstanding experimental platforms for contemporary art in the world—it makes new curatorial approaches and artistic positions accessible to a broad public while consistently maintaining its critical vantage point. I am very much looking forward to continuing these traditions as well as Gabriele Horn’s visionary work, including her astuteness regarding cultural policy, together with a fantastic team. It is important to me to continue to open the Berlin Biennale up to urban society, develop collaborations, and redefine its relationship to Berlin as an art hub. In doing so, I view the long-term project process of the biennale model as an important quality, one that facilitates investing into substantive debates and dialog.”

Axel Wieder studied art history and cultural studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the University of Cologne. He has been director of Bergen Kunsthall since 2018, where he produced a widely acclaimed, interdisciplinary program with an international focus and local roots together with his team, which encompassed exhibitions, live projects, and a broad event and outreach program. Previously, Wieder was the director of Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation in Stockholm (2014-2018) as well as director of Programs at Arnolfini in Bristol (2012-2014). He was responsible for the program of Ludlow 38 – Goethe Institute in New York from 2010 to 2011 after being responsible as artistic director of Künstlerhaus Stuttgart from 2007 to 2010. In 1999, he founded Pro qm, a bookshop and discourse platform, together with Katja Reichard and Jesko Fezer in Berlin. Wieder has held teaching appointments at various universities and art academies, including Bauhaus Universität Weimar and Zurich University of the Arts; he publishes in magazines and anthologies.

In his work, Wieder focuses on the history and theory of exhibitions, architecture, and the social space as well as on questions of political representation. His activities successfully expand the scope of work of art institutions towards becoming open spaces, in which art can be shown in its connection to adjacent areas of society and with attention to different practices and discourses. Under his leadership, the program of Bergen Kunsthall succeeded in attracting new audiences through collaborations and an ambitious program. The most-visited exhibitions in the history of the institution were shown under Axel Wieder’s direction. Joar Nango’s exhibition there was named the best exhibition of the year in Norway in 2020.

Katharina Grosse, Chair of the Board, KUNST-WERKE BERLIN e. V.:

“We are very pleased to have been able to win over Axel Wieder as future director of the Berlin Biennale. Wieder not only has a broad professional network at his disposal, he is also familiar with current discourses as well as the organizational processes relevant for a large-scale, international exhibition format like the Berlin Biennale. His committed approach to strategic opening processes of cultural institutions to new groups of visitors and partners convinced us, as has his considerate, team-driven, and future-oriented leadership style. We look forward to working together in the future. We wish to express our heartfelt thanks to the outgoing director Gabriele Horn, whose over 20 years of dedication have made the Berlin Biennale what it is today: one of the most important and preeminent biennials in the world.”

Katarzyna Wielga-Skolimowska, Artistic Director of the German Federal Cultural Foundation:

“In the twenty years that the German Federal Cultural Foundation has been supporting the Berlin Biennale, Gabriele Horn has been a constant force. Under her direction, the exhibition developed into one of the most important international forums for contemporary art. Gabriele Horn navigated the Berlin Biennale through turbulent times with great skill and determination. In doing so, she always pushed changing curatorial concepts and the artists to the forefront. Now one era ends and a new one begins. We are looking forward to working with Axel Wieder, who is connected globally as well as being firmly rooted in Berlin—an excellent foundation for shaping this new phase with much experience and intuition.”

Axel Wieder will succeed Gabriele Horn, who led the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art since 2002 and simultaneously took office as the director of KW Institute for Contemporary Art between 2004 and 2016. Horn was responsible for 10 iterations of the Berlin Biennale, ensuring the local and international establishment of the exhibition as well as its institutional stability. Under her leadership, the Berlin Biennale, of which the first iteration in 1998 was an ambitious statement above all else, has become a part of the city’s artistic and programmatic reality following its fourth iteration and could be held every two years due to financial stability. Horn made it a professional institution, built sustainable structures, and thus made it fit for the future. At the same time, she preserved an important degree of autonomy, which the Berlin Biennale required for its demanding work, as well as its experimental character. Meanwhile, the Berlin Biennale with its respective areas of emphasis has not only developed a local but an international audience. Gabriele Horn will go into retirement as of July 31, 2024.

Klaus Biesenbach, Founding Director of KW Institute for Contemporary Art and the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art:

“I congratulate Gabriele Horn on her tremendous achievement. With her art-oriented and determined leadership, she has established the Berlin Biennale as one of the world’s most innovative and recognized exhibitions in contemporary art.”

The selection process for the future director of the Berlin Biennale was organized by KUNST-WERKE BERLIN e. V., the supporting association of KW Institute for Contemporary Art and the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. Axel Wieder came out on top in an open application process with numerous international applicants.

The selection committee that conducted the search for the new director was headed by Katharina Grosse (Chair of the Board, KUNST-WERKE BERLIN e. V.). Other voting members of the commission included Krist Gruijthuijsen (Director, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, until June 30, 2024) together with Emma Enderby (Director, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, since May 15, 2024) for KUNST-WERKE BERLIN e. V., Christine Regus for the Senate Department for Culture and Social Cohesion, Berlin, as well as Ekaterina Degot (Artistic Director and Chief Curator, steirischer herbst, Graz), Matthias Mühling (Director, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau München), Hoor Al Qasimi (President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation), and Franciska Zólyom (Director and Curator, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig) as representatives of the international art scene. Members of the commission in an advisory function were Katarzyna Wielga-Skolimowska (Artistic Director, German Federal Cultural Foundation, Halle) and Katharina Kurz (Treasurer, KUNST-WERKE BERLIN e. V.).

July 2023

Zasha Colah, photo: M. Ben Hamouda

Zasha Colah appointed curator of the 13th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art

The Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art is pleased to announce and warmly welcome the curator of the 13th edition, Zasha Colah.

Zasha Colah is a curator and writer. Her exhibitions and texts have been an exploration of artistic imagination under conditions of sustained oppression, often through the prisms of liveliness and restorative laughter. Her work considers a range of cultural practices as an unspoken infrastructure of acts and channels of counter-expression in disobedient terrains that confound militarization and earthly extraction. She is particularly interested in the point at which these practices may cross over to become collective.

Colah was raised in Lusaka, ZM, and Mumbai, IN where she lived and worked until 2014. She divided her time between Berlin, DE, and Mumbai from 2014 to 2017, and for the last six years has been based in Turin, IT. She is a co-founder of the Clark House Initiative (with Yogesh Barve, Sachin Bonde, Poonam Jain, Prabhakar Pachpute, Amol K Patil, Rupali Patil, Nikhil Raunak, and Sumesh Sharma; Mumbai; 2010–22)—a collaborative of artists and curators concerned with ideas of freedom. Prior to this she served as curator of Indian Modern Art at JNAF/CSMVS Museum and curator of public programs at the National Gallery of Modern Art, both in Mumbai. She was the curator of body luggage, steirischer herbst (Graz, AT; 2016), co-curator of the 3rd Pune Biennale Habit-co-Habit. Artistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces in India (with Luca Cerizza, 2017), and part of the curatorial team of the 2nd Yinchuan Biennale Starting from the Desert. Ecologies on the Edge in China (curator: Marco Scotini, 2018). Her doctorate addressed the topic of illegality and meta-exhibition practices in Indo-Myanmar since the 1980s (Sapienza – Università di Roma, IT; 2020). As a member of Archive, a decentralized community of practice (Berlin; Dakar, SN; Milan, IT; since 2020), she co-curates exhibitions, study days, and the serial program on moving multitudes, Choreopoethics. Colah is a lecturer in Curatorial Studies at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan (since 2018) and is on the editorial board of GeoArchivi (director: Marco Scotini/NABA, published by Meltemi, Milan, since 2021), a series of books dedicated to rebellious archives. She is the artistic director of Ar/Ge Kunst (with Francesca Verga; Bolzano, IT; since 2023), where she co-develops a program centered around a series of artistic questions that each time forge a new working group of artists and practitioners. She serves on the board of the Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean (Port Louis, MU).

Director Gabriele Horn and the team of the Berlin Biennale warmly welcome Zasha Colah.

The international selection committee for the curatorship of the upcoming Berlin Biennale included: Sebastian Cichocki (chief curator, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, PL), Elena Filipovic (director/curator, Kunsthalle Basel, CH), Krist Gruijthuijsen (director, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin), Dr. Omar Kholeif (senior curator and director of collections, Sharjah Art Foundation, AE, and founding director, artPost21, UK), Manuela Moscoso (inaugural executive director and chief curator, CARA, New York, US), Olaf Nicolai (artist, Berlin), and Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi (The Steven and Lisa Tananbaum curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York).

In deviation from its previous rhythm, the 13th Berlin Biennale will take place in the summer of 2025. More precise dates will be announced at the end of 2023. Future editions will then take place in odd-numbered years.

Dec 2021

Call for Applications: BB12 Curators Workshop

Application Deadline

Workshop Dates

On the occasion of the 12th Berlin Biennale (11.6.–18.11.2022), curator Kader Attia has invited Reem Shadid to develop and reimagine the format of the Curators Workshop. Following a series of successful theme-based workshops held in conjunction with the 4th to 11th editions of the Berlin Biennale, this iteration—drawing on Attia’s decolonial concept for the 12th Berlin Biennale and its thematic areas—addresses pressing questions about how to place artistic practice at the heart of what we do. Invited participants will have the opportunity to discuss these topics in close collaboration with curators, speakers, Berlin Biennale staff, and invited contributors. In collaboration with the Allianz Kulturstiftung, BMW Group, Goethe-Institut e. V., and Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa), the Berlin Biennale invites a group of eight to twelve early- career curators, educators, and other practitioners to participate in a ten-day workshop.

Oct 2021

Visual identity, 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, 11.6.–18.9.2022, Martin Wecke Design Code Lab & MBI Graphic & Type Design Fabian Maier-Bode

The 12th Berlin Biennale’s duration and visual identity

The 12th Berlin Biennale takes place from June 11 to September 18, 2022 at various venues in Berlin and is curated by Kader Attia. Martin Wecke and Fabian Maier-Bode developed the visual identity.

To the 12th Berlin Biennale's website

Sept 2021

Publication: KW, a history

“It was quiet on Auguststraße, and in the rest of Berlin-Mitte, this area of the former metropolis whose buildings with their bullet-pocked facades had been left to decay for more than four decades since the war. The West had not yet moved eastwards: too dilapidated, too dirty, too dark, poor infrastructure, no telephones, pre-digital, unresolved ownership, the acrid smell of brown coal in the air. Few of the local residents remained. Even before the Wall fell, this neighborhood had been sparsely populated and now many had hurriedly relocated to the West, often leaving all their belongings behind. One sunny afternoon in spring, the five of us stood for the first time in the courtyard of the former margarine factory, most recently home to VEB Elektromontage: 2400 square meters of floor space, ruinous, contaminated, listed, and state-owned. We signed up.”

Alexandra Binswanger in: KW, a History

KUNST-WERKE BERLIN e. V., the supporting association of KW Institute for Contemporary Art and the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2021. Released on occasion of the anniversary, the first comprehensive publication about KUNST-WERKE BERLIN e. V. is the fruit of KW fellow Jenny Dirksen’s extensive research into the organization’s history. It presents selections from the sizable archive of KW and the Berlin Biennale and unfurls a polyphonic institutional history on 496 pages, with essays by Klaus Biesenbach, Jenny Dirksen, Susanne von Falkenhausen, and Jan Verwoert, and a detailed timeline with short texts by Eva Scharrer, an exhibition list, photographs, posters, invitation cards, press responses, and recollections of contemporary observers, friends, and associates from three decades.

Edited by Klaus Biesenbach, Jenny Dirksen, Krist Gruijthuijsen, Gabriele Horn / KW Institute for Contemporary Art
20 × 27 cm, 496 pages, numerous color and b/w images, softcover with dust jacket
ISBN 978-3-95476-372-6
September 2021


Mar 2021

Kader Attia, photo: F. Anthea Schaap

Kader Attia appointed as curator of the 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art

The Berlin Biennale is pleased to begin preparations for the 12th edition with the curatorship announcement. The 12th Berlin Biennale will take place in 2022.

For over two decades, Kader Attia has worked with the concept of “repair” in his artistic practice. It allows him to investigate the dialectic between destruction and repair, in which repair is understood as a way of cultural resistance as well as a means for a society or a subject to reappropriate their history and identity. Raised in Paris and Algeria, Kader Attia studied philosophy and art in Paris and Barcelona; today he lives and works in Berlin and Paris. In 2016, Kader Attia founded La Colonie in Paris’ 10th arrondissement as a space for the exchange of ideas and discussions focusing on decolonization, not only of people but also of knowledge, attitudes, and practices. Driven by the urgency of social and cultural reparation, it aims to reunite what has drifted apart or been broken. Since March 2020, La Colonie has been closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In July 2021, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin hosts the fourth part of a conference series initiated by Kader Attia, Ana Teixeira Pinto, and Giovanna Zapperi entitled The White West.

Gabriele Horn, director of the Berlin Biennale, and the team warmly welcome Kader Attia.

The international selection committee for the curatorship of the upcoming Berlin Biennale included: Yael Bartana (artist, Amsterdam, NL, and Berlin, DE), Beatrice von Bismarck (professor of art history and visual culture at Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst / Academy of Fine Arts, Leipzig, DE), Anita Dube (artist and independent curator, Greater Noida, IN), Krist Gruijthuijsen (director of KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin), Sohrab Mohebbi (Kathe and Jim Patrinos Curator of the 58th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, US), Gabi Ngcobo (artist, educator, and independent curator, Johannesburg, ZA), and Gabriela Rangel (writer and director at Fundación Malba – Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, AR).