Concrete Utopias – An exhibition of the Realismus Club

May 2, 2015 – June 13, 2015

Opening: May 1, 2015, 7 pm

Alte Post, Hauptstraße 29, 10827 Berlin

Opening hours: Tue–Sat 12–6 pm, and by appointment

Adam, Beni Bischof, Brad Downey, Bugra Erol, Daniel Weissbach, Goro Tronsmo, Iman Issa, Kevin Kemter, Linus Bill + Adrien Horni, Liz Hingley, Markus Mai, Matthias Wermke/Mischa Leinkauf, Sophie-Therese Trenka-Dalton, Stefan Marx, Wilhelm Klotzek, Zoe Claire Miller


Iman Issa, Bus Station, 2004, From the series „Meeting Point“ Four digital prints on vinyl 200×161.4 cm each, courtesy the artist

We need utopias – we need them for the present. It cannot be the solution to let go of all dreams and resign oneself to the ordinary. Even if the classical utopia, marked by its own lack of humour, is often suspected of having propensity for totalitarianism: when hope dies, the future disappears with it. The exhibition Concrete Utopias, organised by the Realismus Club in Berlin, is about many small utopias, dealing with the quotidian and thereby silently transforming it. It is about visions and mistakes, fragile and immodest humour, dubious uncertainties and failure. And above all, about the now.

Ernst Bloch coined the notion of concrete utopia in the 1920s and describes with it the condition, which arises after a realistically possible change within society had been exercised. Bloch has thereby participated significantly to the rehabilitation to the concept of utopia. He distinguished it clearly from the romantic utopia that gloats over its own tragic infeasibility und refers instead to unrealized potentials, to what is real and viable. For him, the importance lies not within the classical political utopia, instead he underlines the significance of daydreams, of small daily utopias. The fundamental aspect of concrete utopias is always hope, which in Bloch’s opinion, should be infinite. He says “a flag can even then be tied to the mast when the ship is sinking.”


Iman Issa, Tower, 2004, From the series „Meeting Point“ Four digital prints on vinyl 200×161.4 cm each, courtesy the artist

The artists are proposing with their works new forms of interaction and intervention – concrete alternatives to social power structures in an urban context. Iman Issa’s fanciful and fundamentally utopian proposals for architectural structures are trying to reconcile the gap between the city how it was and how urban planners imagined it could be. How can urban design influence the capacity to act by the civilians living in a city? In her series, titled ‘Meeting Point’ (2004) Issa designed a spectacular crystal tower that she grafted onto Tahrir Square, as well as more quotidian structures such as proposals for kiosks and platforms.

Brad Downey’s subtle interventions are a more concrete way to interact with the cityscape. He changes the functionality of given materials and situations, renders them defunct and subverts our usual routines of perception. In the exhibition, Downey will draw the viewer’s attention to the tools normally used to display art in exhibition spaces: hooks, ropes, plugs and other structures that are otherwise often rather invisible aspects of staging exhibitions.


Sophie-Therese Trenka-Dalton, Dubailand, 2014, Fotografie / Photography, Aus der Serie / From the series „Gates“ courtesy the artist

Sophie-Therese Trenka-Dalton further explores her project “Dubayyland” in the exhibition, in which she has been working for two years. She focuses on the utopian aspect of the metropolis Dubai with its simultaneity of gigantomania and miniaturization and its interplay of hypermodern building projects and traditional architectural forms. At the same time her observations of the cityscape give way to a new perspective on a globalized world.

Beni Bischof’s whimsical paintings are exposing a society denigrated to the grotesque. The cartoons of Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” were among the inspirations for Bischof, who comments on our social norms and politics as well as human routines and pleasures with a disarming immediacy.


Wermke/Leinkauf, Eclipse, 2011, courtesy the artists and VG Bild/Kunst

Matthias Wermke und Mischa Leinkauf are claiming our public space and making the hidden visible through their actions, that are afterwards translated into different media. The personal moment of freedom that is part of their turning-against-the-world attitude is essential to them. Their video work “Eclipse” (2011) was produced in one of Berlin’s storm sewer networks – by questioning the borders of public space the artists point to playful alternatives for our urban environment and address the registers of unheard possibilities.

Location of the exhibition

The location of the exhibition is a historic building in Schöneberg, formerly used by the Post Office. Right next to a landmarked red-brick gas station are small stairs leading down to the 1000 square- metre exhibition space with a temporary exhibition architecture. The space can be understood as a conscious counter-position to the current “The-Bigger-The-Better” attitude of the art market.

Realismus Club

The exhibition is organised by the Realismus Club. It was founded in 2014 as a platform for contemporary art production in Berlin with the goal of promoting recent artistic developments and presenting them to a broader public. As a nomadic gallery space with no permanent residence, the aim of the Realismus Club is the independent organisation of two exhibitions per year on changing locations in Berlin. Parts of the art on display in the exhibitions will be available for purchase. In the collaboration with the Realismus Club, artists are provided with a production budget or an exhibition fee. 

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Hello, I'm Carolin. I'm a designer and concepter. I love space travel, smooth beats, simplicity and Star Wars. I've studied visual communication at Offenbach Academy of Art and Design and arts management at Freie Universität Berlin. Say hi on instagram @carolingoelder

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