BY Jörg Heiser AND Mareike Dittmer in Opinion | 25 AUG 16
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Issue 25

Five Years

The 25th issue of this magazine, and changes at frieze

BY Jörg Heiser AND Mareike Dittmer in Opinion | 25 AUG 16

It’s been five years and 25 issues since we published the first frieze d/e; this issue that you now hold in your hands will be the last. We have made the decision that being on the ground locally is still key, but that the context of writing is even more global now than we could have anticipated five years ago. Issues we felt were predominantly of local interest now merit being shared across the world.

Looking back, the motivation for founding frieze d/e was not only to respond to the growing internationalization of the art world but to simultaneously acknowledge the occurrence of individual and regionally specific discussions and subjects. These called for a platform able to explore this often very productive and exciting tension, especially in a region with a rich and complex local art history. 

So how did this focus actually take shape over the years? Starting from issue one (May 2011), editor Jennifer Allen, in the magazine’s first ‘State of the Art’ editorial, observed how the regional focus of the new magazine ‘rejects old distinctions between international and national readers’. In the same issue, a roundtable entitled ‘Living in a Bubble?’ (with artists Maja Bajevic, Annika Eriksson, Olaf Nicolai and curator and critic Carson Chan) questioned the parameters of a new immigrant and ‘expat’ Berlin scene before many in Germany had acknowledged its multifaceted existence in the first place.

frieze d/e’s attention to the ‘glocalization’ of art in the region was complemented with a good hard look back at its art history, for instance, the history of Documenta. Issue five (June 2012), in time for the big Kassel show that year, featured contributions by no less than six directors of the quinquennial. Later issues would revisit, for example, the almost mythological 1980s and early 90s in Dusseldorf and Cologne (February 2013). 

‘Does Berlin Need a new Art Academy?’ was the question posed by our issue 9 (April 2013). With art students from abroad coming to Berlin, often to escape rising tuition fees, this survey including 30 contributions came at a time when it seemed necessary to reflect on the city’s importance as an art centre – something which we feel is necessary again in the wake of recent controversy about the appointment of Chris Dercon as the new director of Berlin’s Volksbühne (see our roundtable and column in the current issue).

From its beginnings frieze d/e has also purposefully focused on individuals who could be described as institutions unto themselves. In issue 4 (February 2012), Hal Foster lucidly discussed the work of Gerhard Richter, and Dominic Eichler’s brilliant essay on Isa Genzken (September 2013) gave a comprehensive yet personal take on the influential artist. Editor Dominikus Müller’s piece on the late Michael Buthe (September 2015) reconsidered an overlooked but no less central figure of the Cologne scene of the 1970s and ‘80s. The current issue’s ‘dossier’ is on Kai Althoff, an artist who arose in 1990s Cologne, and will soon have a retrospective at MoMA – and who is himself evidence of how art history of the region is of continued, worldwide importance.

We also established a discourse in frieze d/e reflecting on the ‘forgotten’, or rather woefully ignored, importance of women artists throughout the 20th century, something it seems needs addressing time and again with generation after generation. Examples include the features on Florine Stettheimer (September 2014), the ‘rediscovered’ painter Martha Jungwirth (November 2013), or the sculptor Inge Mahn (May 2015). A ‘State of the Art’ in the form of a dialogue between frieze d/e managing editor Paul Teasdale and regular contributor Elvia Wilk entitled ‘Where the Ladies At?’ in February 2014 responded to a surprising return of signs of male bonding in the ranks of the newly formed Post-Internet scene.

Two years earlier, June 2012, Pablo Larios had already identified the new ways young artists were engaging with internet-era mass culture, discussing the work of amongst others Simon Denny and Yngve Holen in the aptly titled piece ‘Pure Products Go Crazy’, while he also charted, in the September 2014 issue, the oncoming signs of ‘Network Fatigue’. With Berlin as a major hub of the ‘millennial’ generation of artists, it felt right to look at its predecessors. In May 2014, an entire section of the magazine reminded us of the prehistory – the ‘Missing Links’ – of Post-Internet, as well as the peculiar history of the internet art movement in 1990s Berlin and the trailblazing work of Daniel Pflumm, who was interviewed by Müller and associate editor Jan Kedves. (That magazine’s cover – with Pflumm’s abstracted brand logo – still makes us proud, as does, more generally, the design work that Brighten the Corners did for the first four issues, and that of Studio Laucke-Siebein subsequently.) We have continued to look closely at how the Post-Internet scene has changed, responding for example to the re- emergence of an aesthetics of the ‘abject’ under digital conditions (the theme of our ‘dossier’ in issue 23, March 2016). 

Such writing will now be integrated into the broader context of and frieze magazine, which will feature a substantially increased number of pieces focusing on art and culture in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In other words, the Berlin office of Frieze (in existence since 2001) will continue to be the Berlin office. But regarding frieze d/e, docking with the mothership Frieze and beholding new digital galaxies coming into view on, we say: so long, and thanks for all the fish. We hope you join us on this journey. To be continued.

Jörg Heiser is director of the Institute for Art in Context at the University of the Arts, Berlin, Germany.

Mareike Dittmer is co-publisher of frieze d/e. She lives in Berlin.