Most of Berlin's nightclubs are closed due to coronavirus-related lockdowns and restrictions but the infamous Berghain has reopened its doors with a sound art exhibition. Titled Eleven songs - Hall at Berghain, the exhibition features a soundscape incorporating soft city noises and eerie murmurings. The project comes from artist duo Sam Auinger and Hannes Strobl (tamtam) and was specifically designed to be appreciated in the venue's monstrous Kessel Hall, where the solid concrete architecture, giant coal chutes and sheer size of the former boiler room elevate the sound, mood and rhythm of the experience. According to organizers, the room is essentially an instrument.
"You listen, you experience, you can close your eyes or leave them open and follow the sound across the room," said Carsten Seiffarth, curator and director of the Singuhr, the sound art gallery promoting the exhibition. "It's also about having an experience with this room and feeling emotions that go beyond just listening."
The project was conceived last year when most of us didn't know what a coronavirus was, but now that it's up and running, (safe) queues are already forming at Berghain. Speaking to AFP, fellow curator Markus Steffens said the massive interest from the public took the team by surprise "we didn’t really know what was going to happen. What if no one came because they were afraid of getting infected?" he said.
Visitor numbers are capped at 50 and everyone who enters must wear a face mask and respect social distancing guidelines. Luckily, the hall's massive size allows for plenty of breathing room and the large open windows keep fresh air circulating throughout the space.
Berlin's nightclub scene has been hit hard by the pandemic. While restaurants, stores and bars have been allowed to reopen, nightclubs have remained closed due to fears that large crowds gathering indoors could lead to increases in infection rates. In order to give some of these venues a lifeline, and to breathe some life back into Berlin after hours, city authorities are calling for major outdoor spaces like parks, streets and squares to be transformed into makeshift open-air night clubs and summer beer gardens.
Eleven songs - Hall at Berghain runs from Wednesdays to Sundays between 2 and 8pm. Entry price is €8. Berghain Garden, an outdoor space, will reopen on August 1 with music scheduled throughout the day and night.
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