Birds and Buoys

Nadja Abt Barbara Marcel

Grafik: Viktor Schmidt

9 April – 13 June 2021

Please wear an FFP2-mask while visiting. According to the regulations issued by the Berlin Senate, the exhibition space can host a maximum of 8 visitors at the same time.

No appointment necessary. You can visit the exhibition Tuesday to Sunday between 11am and 7pm.

Further Events:

28.4. – Paz Guevara in conversation with Nadja Abt, Barbara Marcel, Katja Kynast (Online on Zoom)

[postponed] 2.5. – These Birds of Temptation. Book presentation with Barbara Marcel and K. Verlag (Open-Air)

20.5. – “Decolonize Mitte!” Digital city tour with Berlin Postkolonial

27.5. – Wayfaring Strata. As We Move Along. Audio Walk Sonia Fernández Pan in collaboration with Stephen McEvoy & Julia Rodríguez

[postponed] 3.6. – Guided tour through the neighbourhood of the Bärenzwinger with Berlin Postkolonial e.V. / Dekoloniale (German)

13.6. 5 to 7pm – Finissage with Nadja Abt, Barbara Marcel, Andreas Doepke and Tâmera Bak

On 9 April 2021, the double exhibition “Birds and Buoys” opens at Bärenzwinger Berlin with works by Nadja Abt and Barbara Marcel. The double exhibition “Birds and Buoys”, with works by Nadja Abt and Barbara Marcel, brings two complex and long-standing artistic strands of research together and deals with transatlantic labour and the cultural history of shipping and mining from a feminist and queer perspective.

Together, the works reference the architecture and history of the Bärenzwinger as well as its immediate neighbourhood, including the historic harbour, the Marinehaus (former clubhouse of the imperial navy) and the Brazilian embassy.

Based on texts by the writer, philosopher and cultural theorist Édouard Glissant, Nadja Abt presents “Ship of Relation”. With this work she reinterprets the ship, traditionally a male-dominated space, as a place for feminist narratives and a multiplicity of relationships. Following Glissant’s “Our boats are open, and we sail them for everyone”, Abt considers the ship with its female crew as a metaphor for creating connections in postcolonial discourse.

The artist incorporates concrete elements of seafaring, such as ropes, buoys or sails, into her composition and transforms the bear kennel into a ship’s hull. In three fictional narratives, which can be read on boat fenders in the exhibition space, the voices on board report on the intention and background of their journey.

Barbara Marcel’s project “Golden Tone” is derived from her research into the historic and cultural landscape of Harz, the western mountain region of Germany, where many of the mining technologies of mineral soil extraction were first developed and later exported across the world.

The video installation reflects on the intersections of the past, present and future of this anthropogenic landscape through the particular history of the breeding, training and trading of canary birds in the region. In a video assemblage featuring hands and machines, silver and serinettes, contaminated heavy metal hills and falling spruce trees, touristic tours and intimate interviews, the iconic landscape of the German Harz gradually reveals its many hybrid layers. “Golden Tone” is a film about the Harz Roller canary birds, the domestication of mines and the queering of nature.

The exhibition “Birds and Buoys” opens the “Bricolage” programme and with it a series of explorations into the less visible present and history of the Bärenzwinger.

Exhibition concept (EN)
Conceito curatorial (PT)

Curated by Isabel Jäger, Katja Kynast, Malte Pieper, Maja Smoszna

Grafik: Viktor Schmidt

Nadja Abt

Nadja Abt is an artist and writer living between Berlin and Lisbon. Abt studied literature and art history at the Free University of Berlin as well as visual arts at the Berlin University of the Arts and the Universidad Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires. In her performances, videos and paintings, she constructs feminist narratives that reference the worlds of literature and film.

She is part of the artist collective Michelle Volta. She has recently shown works and performances at KW-Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Pivô, São Paulo, Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, among others.

Barbara Marcel

Barbara Marcel is an artist and filmmaker. Marcel studied film studies in Rio de Janeiro, holds an MA from the Institute Art in Context at the Berlin University of the Arts and is currently a PhD student at the Bauhaus University Weimar as a research fellow of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Her video installations and publications are often collages and essays of found and produced images, based on histories of colonialities. Her works propose experimentation with new ecological relations, processes of thought and practice.

Her work has been shown at ZKM, Karlsruhe; Galeria Metropolitana, Santiago de Chile; Savvy Contemporary Berlin; Broad Art Museum, Michigan; Espacio Pla, Buenos Aires; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; CeNak – Zoological Museum Hamburg; V240, Amsterdam; Athens Biennale; Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig and Galeria Marta Traba; Fundação Memorial da América Latina, São Paulo, among others.


13.6. – 5 to 7pm
With Nadja Abt, Barbara Marcel, Andreas Doepke and Tâmera Bak

Exhibition, Audio Walk, Readings, Conversations

We kindly ask for proof of a negative COVID test result not older than 24h. Please wear a FFP2 mask while visiting the exhibition. A maximum of 8 visitors are allowed in the exhibition at the same time.

The artists Nadja Abt and Barbara Marcel and the curatorial team will be present and invite you to visit the exhibition, discover publications by the artists presented on site and wander through our neighbourhood, guided by the audio walk »Wayfaring Strata. As We Move Along« written by Sonia Fernández Pan.

Pick up your copy of Nadja Abts publication »Ship of Relation« and listen to Barbara Marcel and researcher Andreas Doepke reading fragments of their essay on the blue canary – to be published soon in »These Birds of Temptation« – while going for a walk in the neighbourhood of Bärenzwinger.
A maximum of ten participants can take part in the walk, which begins at 5pm with a contribution by singer and producer Tâmera Bak. Registration for the walk will take place on site.

The current measures to protect against infection apply. 


Audio Walk

27.5. – 13.6.2021

»Wayfaring Strata. As We Move Along.«

Audio Walk choreographed by Sonia Fernández Pan in collaboration with Stephen McEvoy & Julia Rodríguez

Language: English
Start your walk on site at Bärenzwinger.

Starting on May 27, 2021, Bärenzwinger invites you to participate in an audio walk, »Wayfaring Strata. As We Move Along«. The audio walk was developed for the Bärenzwinger by curator and writer Sonia Fernández Pan in collaboration with musician Stephen McEvoy and performer and choreographer Julia Rodriguez.

Visitors are invited to engage in an audiovisual journey and re-discover the neighborhood of the Bärenzwinger in a new way. »Wayfaring Strata« proposes a practice of wandering and attentive listening in motion, that is based on an act of writing that responds to and expands the environment.

The audio walk lasts approx. 45 minutes and will be held in English. It will be accessible to all visitors as an audio file to take away during the gallery’s opening hours (Tue-Sun, 11am-7pm) from 27 May to 13 June. 

Please bring your own smartphone or MP3 player and headphones. Alternatively, a MP3 player will be offered in the exhibition space, which can be borrowed for temporary use on site. The audio file can be picked up without prior registration during opening hours in the entrance area of the Bärenzwingers.

Proof of a negative corona antigen test is not necessary for pick-up. Please wear an FFP2 mask and follow the distance rules.

Artist Talk

28.4.2021, 6.30 – 8pm
Online on Zoom

Paz Guevara in conversation with Nadja Abt, Barbara Marcel, Katja Kynast

Participation is possible online using Zoom, please follow this link: Artist Talk on Zoom  

Meeting ID: 954 2135 3509, ID code: 183974

On 28 April 2021 from 6.30 to 8 pm, Bärenzwinger invites you to an online artist talk around the current exhibition »Birds and Buoys«. The two participating artists, Nadja Abt and Barbara Marcel, will each explain their individual approach and also present some of the long-standing research that forms the background to their works on display at the Bärenzwinger. Abt and Marcel have independently of each other been working for many years on the transatlantic history of labour and culture in shipping, respectively mining.

Together with curator, researcher and author Paz Guevara and exhibition curator Katja Kynast, they will explore the connections between their artistic works and question the ways in which they relate to the architecture and history of the Bärenzinger and its immediate neighbourhood including the historic harbour, the Marinehaus (former clubhouse of the Imperial Navy) and the Brazilian Embassy.

The conversation will be held in English.

The audience is invited to participate in the discussion and is welcome to ask questions and give feedback. The entire curatorial team will be part of the conversation.

“Decolonize Mitte!”

Digital city tour with Berlin Postkolonial

20 May 2021
Online on Zoom

Participation is possible online on Zoom, follow this link:

Meeting ID: 952 6822 6330
ID code: 605373

Why do African visitors in Berlin still ask in vain for an appropriate place of remembrance for the infamous Berlin Conference? What does Berlin’s M-Street have to do with the Sachsenhausen concentration camp? When did activists of African origin first demand a Black representative in the German parliament?

On 20 May 2021, the Bärenzwinger invites you to a virtual city tour through the neighbourhood of the Bärenzwinger online in the evening from 6 to 8 pm.

The tour will be moderated by Christian Kopp and the Berlin Postkolonial association. The virtual city tour with Berlin Postkolonial explores forgotten, repressed, embellished and contested sites of colonial history in the centre of Berlin, touching on pressing questions of the postcolonial present. The tour will take place in English.