Twelve years ago, artist and filmmaker Ralf Schmerberg moved into the premises of a former grain mill on Schlesische Straße 38, gradually establishing his studio space as a cultural meeting place.
Opened in 1896, the Victoria-Mühlenwerke served as a secret warehouse for food supplies during the Cold War. After the reunification, its machineries were eventually dismantled and the factory grounds were largely abandoned until renovations began in 2007. As one of the first tenants of the new Victoria Höfe, Schmerberg initially moved into a studio unit on two floors overlooking the river Spree. This is where Schmerberg and his team spent the following two years editing PROBLEMA, a documentary examining the most urgent societal issues of the 21st century. Out of this creative process and the desire to address socially relevant topics, collectively on an artistic and cross-media level, the Mindpirates were founded. Shortly thereafter, the collective’s headquarters, the Vereinsheim, was established in the old boiler house of the mill. In addition to weekly film screenings, concerts and performances, legendary parties took place quickly propelling the artist group to become an integral part of Berlin’s cultural life. In 2012, the Mindpirates Projektraum was launched as a platform to accommodate additional formats such as art exhibitions, symposia and multidisciplinary projects. Meanwhile, Schmerberg’s studio, which has been located on the upper floor of the main mill complex since 2011, was always a public space in its own right. In addition to large-scale musical performances, inclusive theater productions such as Bertolt Brecht’s Brotladen by the ensemble Kalibani, and cross-genre exhibitions, numerous events were held in cooperation with renowned partners such as the Berlinale or the Heinrich Böll Foundation. While the cultural heritage of the Mindpirates was continued at the Hole – Institut für Sehsüchte between 2015 and 2017, Schmerberg dedicated himself to his own projects. Schmerberg’s fourth feature film INDARELLA was completed in these very rooms. Filmed in India, the editing and much of the music production took place at the artist’s studio. Most recently, Schmerberg co-founded the Music Ashram, an eclectic ensemble of international artists and musicians, which transformed the studio space into a venue for its immersive and participatory performance pieces.
BING BÄNG OVER GONE is looking back onto an era coming to an end with the departure of the Ralf Schmerberg’s studio from Schlesische Strasse. In this context, the past is paid tribute to- with a visual retrospective of Schmerberg’s own work, which has been created in and around Schlesische Strasse over the past decade. In Schmerberg’s typical manner, he captured instinctive and fleeting moments to reveal the absurd, the quirky, the ugly, the wasteful, but also the beauty and poetry of these turbulent times. In addition to iconic works from his oeuvre such as Besuch am Abend, 2010 or Coming Home, 2009, unpublished photographs from the archive are on display, giving an intimate insight into the artist’s everyday life and revealing a deep connection to a place that has been at the heart of his artistic creations for over a decade. The exhibition display of nearly 100 pictures forms a new narrative space centered around the performative actions, happenings, music events and their people, allowing visitors to experience these bygone days once again.
The photographic works are accompanied by a series of video works as well as a curated program with themed evenings, film screenings, performances and music acts. The roof terrace overlooking the river Spree will host a pop-up restaurant while the artist’s apartment will be transformed into a cabinet of curiosities-like store where visitors can peruse and acquire objects from the artist’s private collection.
Ralf Schmerberg (*1965 in Ludwigsburg) lives and works in Berlin. In his artistic practice he explores the limits of society, which he continually seeks to expand and redefine. Always close to the people surrounding him, Schmerberg’s pictures delve deep into the layers of humanity to unlock new emotional spaces. Schmerberg acts instinctively and rejects the idea of a staged or carefully constructed composition in favour of intuitive moments, which take shape in front of his camera. For Schmerberg, his art is a means of pursuing his own spiritual quest. Ultimately it is this ongoing process of seeking and finding which he captures in his works.