On my way to Inselgalerie in Friedrichshain, close to Frankfurter Tor, the area does not seem like a typical place where I would find a gallery. According to gallery director Eva Hübner, galleries must be located in every district of the city. “[…] This part of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district has less cultural and creative offerings than, for example, the area around Warschauer Strasse, and as a result, there are not so many people who often go to galleries without fear of contact“, so Hübner. What does fear of contact mean? There is a certain fear of entering a gallery, but are somehow afraid to enter. I was one of them – but why? Perhaps because a visit to a gallery is not as anonymous as a visit to a museum? “Maybe, but I don’t exactly see it this way”, says Mrs. Hübner.
“We try to have different offers.” The gallery organizes an extra program in addition to the exhibitions, including readings, films and sometimes concerts in small groups. So people come to the gallery because they are interested e.g. in watching a movie, rather than in art. But afterward, they take a look at the ongoing exhibition and immediately a conversation stars. “That’s how things get mixed up. You can’t eat a stew every day. You can’t eat lobster every day either. The side dishes are important,” says Hübner. Opening and closing events are extremely successful, and sometimes dialogue with the audience is directed in a way to arouse general interest in galleries and their exhibitions. „Going to a gallery and not being asked to come in is a form of learning“, says Eva Hübner and I agree with her. The more I do it, the more natural it feels and the fear of entering a gallery disappears.
The gallery was founded 25 years ago to create a market-independent platform for female artists in particular, because female artists – unfortunately still today, although the situation has improved over the past 25 years – are underrepresented in the gallery landscape compared to their male colleagues. “This is also the reason why the gallery works very specifically. We don’t have to pay attention to marketability.” We can be inspired by exciting and also bulky ideas. This is because the owner of the Inselgalerie is an association and the program makers choose the themes that will be exhibited by themselves. “We can have fun […] and select the artists’ applications according to our criteria,” says Eva Hübner. Such criteria are, for example: How good is it? What are the new ideas? How crazy is it? “Just the kind of things that you can’t sell. Such artworks are mainly bought by museums,” she continues. The fact is, the gallery has no commercial pressures. “It’s fine when something is sold, but that’s not our main focus.” Well-known, but especially also less known female artists will be shown together in the context of the same exhibition. “It is also necessary to see not just the first 100 female artists, the others must be shown as well.” Berlin has many female artists, and there are also many from abroad.
Planning an exhibition takes some time. Applications are checked twice a year, followed by the artists’ handwriting. “At least one year before, it has to be clear […] where the journey will go. In 2021, for example, we’re interested in the theme of the combination of science and art in connection with nature. We need to find possible partners and we would like to work with galleries that focus on experimental art and science.”
An exhibition has a duration of five weeks. There are always only group exhibitions, so works by different artists are mirroring in each other. “We make a work proposal and set the artworks in a way we think it could be exciting,” explains Ms. Hübner, “because this allows the artists to see their artworks from a completely new perspective.
Some of the exhibited artworks are truly extraordinary, also in their creation process. As a result, I notice that the gallery is not a commercial one. It is good and important that such artworks get a platform. Furthermore, the gallery has beautiful, permeable rooms, which are all connected in some way, so everything seems very open and the atmosphere is familiar rather than intimidating. After the conversation with Mrs. Hübner, I can tell she lives for the gallery and the work behind it.