• Emily McDonnell

#16: Art Biesenthal

Reawaken your child-like need for discovery.

I was spoilt rotten in the UK. We used to go on school trips to the Tate Modern, the British Museum and the National Gallery, and, as teenagers, we were allowed to roam free. I remember those trips fondly, how we were perplexed by the canvas with the rip in it (aka Lucio Fontana’s Spatial Concept ‘Waiting’, 1960), how I marvelled at the Rosetta Stone, and how I got lost in the magic of The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger.

These museums were filled with gallery after gallery after gallery, and we’d dash from floor to floor hunting out the weird and the wonderful. And when you grow up with this access to culture, you take it a little for granted. So when, after a few years living in Berlin, having delayed visiting a museum because I’d have to pay for it, I finally went to the Berlinische Galerie, I was underwhelmed to say the very least. (And yes, I very much realise my privilege in writing that).

However, I am a huge believer that art and culture are huge huge parts of a city’s identity, and when I was creating my year’s adventure bucket list I knew I needed to immerse myself in more of the stuff.

That commitment is why I found myself shovelling truffle-topped pizza into my mouth while simultaneously hiding under a tree in the rain.

Art Biesenthal takes place during Berlin’s Art Week, with the catch that it doesn’t take place in Berlin, but an hour away in the Brandenburg village of (yes, you guessed it) Biesenthal. I had read about the house-come-gallery, and it was this that drew me in as much as the art itself; I mean, I guess architecture is a kind of art.

I was prepared to be underwhelmed, and, well, I was disappointed. Here, my childish love of exploring and discovering was fed, as sculptures, installation and paintings were dotted throughout the grounds and the main house.

I loved the reflective box - hidden in the forest - that exhaled smoke, and the movement-trigger sound boxes that played noises as you walked through wildflowers. In the oh-so-beautiful house, a modern, minimalist space, bold pieces hung on the wall, and the cellar housed video installations.

Finding art in a space in which it doesn’t normally belong is exciting, and this sensation of excitement amplifies your enjoyment of the present moment much more. Even as the rain began to fall (hello autumn), my desire to discover overcame my need to stay dry and I kept floating from room to room, and through the grounds, hunting for artistic treasures.

Oh, and the pizza, you ask? Well, who can say no to cheese, carbs and truffle? Even though I got soaked to the skin, I’d still eat it all over again - it was the perfect end to a perfect little outing - here’s to that rebellious, child-like attitude that demand discovery!

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