There are more than 100 artists, musicians, and designers involved in this year’s Berlin Biennale. Historically, the Biennale featured artists from, in, or around Berlin, but today, the DIS-curated iteration, par for the course, reflects the decentralized and democratized nature of art made from, in, and around the internet. At KW Institute, works dealt with the line between the personal and public collapsed by new technologies, while work at the Akademie der Künste more so questioned aesthetics of state power, transparency, and commercial spaces: in this way, the two major locations acted as a sort of binary. In addition to the five venues around the city of Berlin itself, the show bleeds into the digital sphere in the form of interactive online experiences and a soundtrack, while performance art and even workout classes play a part. Here we pick ten aspects of this year’s biennale not to be missed.
Camille Henrot’s Office of Unreplied E-mails: Henrot’s installation fills one floor of the KW Institute with large-scale printouts of junk mail sent by Petco, the Sierra Club, and the like. Alongside aggressive, faux-personal letters, Henrot replied on equally inflated printouts but in cursive type with tender, Jane Austen-esque missives.
Simon Fujiwara’s Happy Museum: At the Akademie der Künste, Fujiwara’s installation is the only work shown in the original gallery space. It’s a fitting location: Happy Museum is a multifaceted look at how wellbeing can be defined, quantified, and aestheticized in Germany, from displays measuring GDP to examinations of Angela Merkel’s HD makeup.
Boat Rage: A Blue-Star tour boat is the venue for Korakrit Arunanondchai and Alex Gvojic’s collaborative work for the biennale, and will also host BOAT RAGE, a series of events that span musical performances, literary readings, and fashion presentations along the Spree. Up next is Conjure Migration a performance by Analisa Bienvenida Teachworth in collaboration with Telfar and a DJ set by SADAF, followed by Emily Segal reading from a forthcoming novel with music by Why Be and ANGEL-HO on June 18.
Sonic Cripsis: Brazilian artist Daniel Steegmann Mangrané’s performance SONIC CRIPSIS, will happen every Saturday at 6pm at the Feuerle Collection. The work incorporates music and technology as a flutist transposes a secret score, “simultaneously encrypting its content and merging into the surrounding sonic space.”
How to DISappear in America: This musical by Ei Arakawa in collaboration with Dan Poston and Stefan Tcherepnin is based on the book of the same name by artist Seth Price. The lip-synched adaptation will next be performed on Fridays and Saturdays at the Akademie der Künste at 5pm.
Telfar: At the entryway to the Akademie der Künste building is a merchandise store conceived by Telfar, which also acts as a 10-year retrospective of the designer’s white T-shirts. Uniforms worn by guards and staff throughout all the venues were also designed under the label.
Anthem: This biennale won’t just be seen but heard. On the biennale website, tracks will appear all summer, eight in total, as collaborations between artists and musicians from Jacolby Satterwhite to Isa Genzken to Kelela.
Open Workout: Every Saturday, the Akademie der Künste will host a different public workout, in a riff on the many DIS ventures associated with aspirational living. The current lineup includes Kundalini yoga, a Fitness Povero course, and foundational movements.
Photography: Photographic images have long been an important medium for DIS, and in that vein, they plays perhaps a larger-than-usual role in this year’s edition, particularly in the auxiliary aspects of the show. Each floor of KW Institute is illustrated by ad campaigns shot by Babak Radboy and LIT, light boxes scattered around the biennale, features work by Zanele Muholi and Roe Etheridge. Among the artists in the biennale, at the Feuerle Collection, Josephine Pryde’s large installation features intimate color photographs of women’s hands interacting with technology while Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff.
Fear of Content: The biennale website will be updated with daily content so anyone can experience the show. Current writing up now includes thoughts on the show from biennale artists such as Simon Fujiwara, essays by writers like Natasha Stagg, and an archival interview about the first Berlin Biennale with Rem Koolhaas and Klaus Biesenbach, to name a few.