KGB – Sounds and Berlin’s Public Galleries


A powerful and incessant sound coming out of around 10 drum sets, one stage serving as the starting point, but not as protagonist, the audience taking part in the action. No center, no main stage, one rhythm. This is how KGB – Sounds created a metaphor of Berlin’s art production.


Last 17th of September the KGB – Sounds took place at Heimathafen Neukölln. KGB – Sounds is an annual event that marks the end of the KGB – Kunstwoche (KGB – Artweek). For this event, different bands of artists condense their sound in one night and perform for Berlin’s audience.




This year the KGB – Sounds night started with a piece by „Beating the drum“ and „N.U. Unruh“ (from Einstürzende Neubauten). By placing a lot of drum sets outside of the main stage, they invite the audience to perform and take part in the creation of a common rhythm. The night continued with a musical performance lead by the Country-Grunge-Punk sound of „Dangerpony“. Around 23:00 hrs. the retro-electronic beats of “Artists on Horses” transformed the ground on a dancing floor. The audience was also lead to a political tempo marked by “Black Heino“. And, at the end of the night, everyone could dance with the experimental DJ „planningtorock“ set.


But what does it means „KGB“? In recent years KGB has acquired in Berlin a different meaning from the one it had during the communist days of the city. KGB stands now for the german „Kommunale Galerien Berlin“ or „Municipal Berlin Galleries“ in English. Kommunale Galerien Berlin is the group of 28 public galleries of Berlin. According to their website, the 28 galleries conform 3,500m2 of artistic space. The KGB – Galleries „are places for contextualized analysis of thematic, cultural, political and historical issues“. Altogether they present in one year an amount of around 150 – 200 exhibitions. These galleries are committed to the promotion and support of Berlin’s art production. Another important aim of this group is to put art at the disposition of a wider public, this is why you can visit any of their locations for free. The Kommunale Galerien Berlin are also engaged with the decentralization of art production and the support of local scenes. For this reason, you can find one of their spaces almost in every Berlin’s neighborhood. If you want to make a tour you won’t need to pay an entrance fee, but a good amount of time. You could start at the Galerie 100 in Lichtenberg or the Galerie Schwartzsche Villa in Steglitz. Among them is also the better known and central located Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien. Going around all these spots would help you to get a general view of what is going on in Berlin’s art scene. This is, as you can imagine, not a task you can complete on one day.


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For the last 3 years, the Berlin public galleries have been organizing their annual art week. This art week, or KGB – Kunstwoche, takes place parallel to the more commercial directed Berlin Art Week. The aim of the KGB – Kunstwoche is to present the experiments, productions, and development of Berlin’s local scene. During a whole week, the galleries part of this group open their spaces for lectures, performances, exhibitions and more. On this week the KGB Galleries also invite the visitors to take part in artists walks and talks. Bus tours were also organized to make easier the way to the different locations around Berlin. I found the bus tours also a great way to expand the artistic territory and transform the whole city into a stage. 


KGB – Sounds and the KGB – Kunstwoche will take place again until next year, in the meantime, we have 28 galleries to get around and being involved in Berlin’s powerful and incessant art scene.