The gallerists behind Berlin's popular Gallery Weekend — which saw its energetic 2011 edition take place from April 29 to May 1 — founded Art Berlin Contemporary, or ABC, in 2008 "as a free, new format between exhibition and gallery event," according to the fair's Web site. Their experiment seems to have been a successful one, as ABC is now poised to absorb the city's other fall art fair, Art Forum Berlin, founded in 1995.
According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine, which broke the story, the new combined fair will debut between September 7 and 11 of this year. Almost a month earlier than the previous dates of either event, this timing will avoid direct competition with London's expanding Frieze Art Fair and Paris's FIAC. The new fair will take place in the Station, a former postal freight depot in the Kreuzberg neighborhood where ABC first took place, according to Kunstmarkt.com.
Art Forum Berlin hired Peter Vetsch and Eva-Maria Häusler away from Art Basel to co-direct its 2009 edition, but Vetsch announced in April that he was leaving the fair for personal reasons. At that time, Häusler and project director Kirsten Günther were announced as the fair's co-directors, but the leadership of the newly-merged fair is yet to be announced.
Even the name of the new entity is not entirely certain. While some sources, including the Frankfurter Allgemeine, have reported that the fair will keep the name Art Berlin Contemporary, the Berliner Morgenpost wrote that the name had not yet been determined. According to the Morgenpost, negotiations had been ongoing for some time, and both fairs will have equal roles to play in their merged identity. However, ABC's Web site supplies the fair's new dates along with a theme ("about painting"), without further details. As of this writing, Art Forum Berlin's Web site has not been updated to reflect the new dates or the merger.
With a high concentration of young artistic talent drawn to cheap (for now) rents, the city's gallery scene has attracted a great deal of attention recently. Gallery Weekend has generally been viewed as a more exciting venue than the fall fairs, which, in their new incarnation, are surely trying to replicate the energy of the spring event.