The Best of Berlin With Miss Read Director Michalis Pichler | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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The Best of Berlin With Miss Read Director Michalis Pichler

Michalis Pichler, "Selfportrait (as Allen Ruppersberg as Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray)," 2012
(Courtesy Michalis Pichler)

Founded in 2009, MISS READ, the Berlin Art Book Fair,  is dedicated to, according to Director Michalis Pichler, “creating a public meeting place for discourse around artists’ books, conceptual publications and publishing as practice… It is important to gather in an actual place and to exchange.” 

Featuring a selection of more than 250 international publishers, art periodicals, artists and authors, the festival, fair, and overall forum for literary dialogue also encompasses a series of lectures, discussions, book launches and workshops. Its mission of exploring the shifting parameters of contemporary publishing, and the ever-porous possibilities of the book, is at once evergreen and incredibly topical. In tandem is the annual Conceptual Poetics Day, which explores the overlap between visual art and literature.

The MISS READ fair is open May 4-6 at Haus der Kulturen der Welt John-Foster- Dulles-Allee. As you might expect from someone who spearheaded such an intrepid conceptual event, Pichler’s recommendations of what to see and do in Berlin are cheeky and but telling. 

How long have you been living in Berlin?

I was born here, or in what was then West Berlin.

What are your recommendations for must-see places in Berlin?

Berlin has great museums, especially the Pergamonmuseum on Museumsinsel. Despite the fact that almost everything in this museum has been stolen, it’s a great place to visit. I love how the S-Bahn tracks are almost going through the building. It reminds me of a scene in “Berlin – Die Sinfonie der Großstadt” by Walther Ruttmann.

Where would you head to in Berlin for the best shopping?

I would visit the flea markets — you can only do that on the weekends, though.

What are the best places to see live bands or musicians in Berlin and why?

I like Schwarze Heidi on Mariannenstraße on Sunday nights. There is this group of musicians, drinkers, potheads and Hartz-Vier- artists — I’ve heard one of them is actually an in-debt millionaire — who get together and play Rembetiko every Sunday. Starts around midnight.

Which local restaurants or cafes would you recommend?

I like restaurants that serve tap-water — I definitely do recommend Berlin’s tap-water! And cafes which have a nice variety of daily newspapers. (Like Bar Vereinszimmer Lo Spazio next to Viktoriapark.) Recently, many cafes have stopped bringing in daily newspapers and have weekly magazines instead, but I hate that. I mean, sorry, that’s not a coffee-house then, but more like a doctor’s waiting room.

Where would you recommend people stay (hotels, B&Bs) when they visit Berlin?

It doesn’t really matter where. Try to respect the locals.

What are some of Berlin’s best secret places that everyone should discover?

That’s a difficult one, hmmm... Can’t help but think of a dialogue in an old detective movie I once saw: “Can you keep a secret?” – “Yes!” – “Me too.”

What are the best places to buy art in Berlin?

It really depends on your interests and budget. Naturally I would say at MISS READ this weekend, where we promote the understanding of (certain) publications as artworks in their own right.

What projects are you currently working on?

We are already working on MISS READ 2019, taking place next May 3-5 at Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Besides that, I am working on a German adaptation of  “Exposition litteraire autour de Mallarme.” The exhibition is centered around re-readings and re-writings of “Un Coup de Des Jamais N’Abolira Le Hasard” across different media, reproducing that icon of the avant-garde.

What are you most looking forward to about this newest edition?

The fair is celebrating the 10th  year of its existence by bringing together 267 exhibitors and publishing an anthology called “Publishing Manifestos” (which follows a 2015 artists/book monograph with Printed Matter). The book also features a comprehensive who’s-who of publishers within the last decade who participated in MISS READ, with 600 separate entries. Some of the chosen artists for this specific edition: Simon Morris will examine the history of self-publishing and look forward to the political praxis of the 21st-century’s digital future. Annette Gilbert will examine the possibility of immaterial literature in conceptual writing. Karl Holmqvist will read “You Blew up my House,” a spoken word event that mixes pop culture with song lyrics and political slogans.

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