When her father died, German artist Kerstin Honeit learned that she had nine half-siblings strewn across East and West Berlin. Unprepared to make overtures to a family she’d never known, Honeit sought a connection by inhabiting their identities and space. In a series of photographs called “Becoming 10,” Honeit transforms herself into these sibling strangers, wearing a wig and trucker cap to become her working-class brother, and a camel-hair coat and heels to play an elegant older sister. She then photographs herself in their respective neighborhoods, posing as she imagines them to be. In one example, Honeit stands outside a brother’s home on a winter morning, dressed in tailored pajamas and a robe. She is looking over her shoulder down a snowy path, towards a door that may never open, and it’s this image—of an artist both literally and metaphorically outside—that is so aptly representative of the rest of the collection.
Honeit’s piece is just one in a constellation of works lining the walls of Daniel Berger’s home on Sheridan Road. Berger is the founder and current medical director of Northstar Medical Center and an avid art collector. It’s not uncommon for successful doctors to build collections, and in fact many of them treat it as an expensive hobby, kind of like big-game hunting. When I heard about Iceberg Projects, the exhibition space Berger founded in a renovated carriage house behind his home, I half expected to find a trophy room; four white walls where Berger could show off his collection like so many dead antelope. Frankly, that’s how a lot of collectors approach art—as a conquest. But Berger is not your average collector. Northstar is the largest private treatment and research center for HIV in the city and Berger is one of the leading clinical researchers in the field. His work with a disease that has the power to be so isolating seems to have informed his collection, imbuing it with an astounding sense of empathy for those on the fringe.