CTM electronic music and art festival returns this year across multiple spaces in Berlin, opening January 29 and running February 6.
CTM 2016 is titled New Geographies, and in direct response to rapidly collapsing borders and hybridising topographies, as well as the backlash of tense essentialist reaction to these changes, invites more artists, contributors and voices operating in less familiar localities than ever before.
Guest curators are Rabih Beaini, for the music programme and Norient who have organised a “multi-authored” exhibition with over 250 artists working in 50 different countries with video, sound and music. Cult independent film maker Vincent Moon is opening his ‘Rituals’ installation at HAU2 on January 30 and talks led by the links of The Wire editor Emily Bick and journalist Adam Harper.
Included in the amazing line up are Hatsune Miku, and MBJ Wetware who will collaborate with JG Biberkopf, for whom aqnb has recently written a series of short texts to be read alongside his unthinkable show on NTS radio.
Here are some of our recommendations:
Zones 1 with Visionist, Thug Entrancer, J.G. Biberkopf and MBJ Wetware on February 2.
Zones III with Le1f, Aïsha Devi and Tianzhuo Chen on February 4.
Flow II with Jlin, Nkisi, Nidia Minaj and Kablam on February 4.
Steven Warwick and Anna Homler’s ‘Breadwoman‘ performance on February 5.
Zones IVwith Kassem Mosse and others on February 5.
Still Be Here with Hatsune Miku, featuring Laurel Halo, LaTurbo Avedon and others on February 5.
Grid Line with Why Be, Mum Dance and Rabit on February 6.
“Maybe, the music lost the war,” posits Ji-Hun Kimat the final panel titled ‘Global and Local Music Scenes’ of 3hd Festival, running across venues in Berlin from December 2 to 5. Given the overall theme of the rather meticulously curated event programme –‘The Labour of Sound in a World of Debt’ –it’s possible to see how that might have happened. In a climate of big brand sponsorship and accelerated media uncovering, exposing and mining the so-called ‘underground’ in the flattened space of the internet, the outlook of what could have been counterculture appears rather bleak. But then, when it comes to a project like 3hd –where its Creamcake organisers Anja Weigl and Daniela Seitz manage an international cast of musicians, producers, desginers, writers, brought to the German city on a tiny budget –it seems there is still hope.
Here, it’s the sense of community, however dispersed along the global online, that really is palpable. Attendance, for one, is healthy. Crowds vary nicely in demographic depending on the night and engagement with the discussion series –moderated by Adam Harperand including topics like ‘What is the Musical Object in the 21st Century?’ and ‘Visual Pleasure, the Impact of Image Making’ –is lively. The latter takes place in Kreuzberg’s Vierte Welt, surrounded by the art of 3hd’s The Labour of Sound in a World of Debt exhibition. It includes sculpture by Ella CB and Per Mertens, the heavily branded graphic design of Simon Whybray’s JACK댄스 night posters and Kim Laughton’s ‘TIDAL (tone-on-tone)’ video featuring a billboard screen ad for the title music streaming sitein what looks like an industrial wasteland.
Vierte Welt is also the setting for 3hd’s official opening, where the multiple wall-mounted LED screenings of Emilie Gervais’ ‘Brandon aka Kamisha’ CGI animation and Lawrence Lek’s ‘Unreal Estate (The Royal Academy is Yours)’ projection is shown up by Easter’s short but striking live performance. With it they unveil their ‘True Cup’ video, a film that’s part of a sort of distributed art project featuring the artists, Max Boss and Stine Omar, staring at their flip phones and moving, model-like, around Galerie koal where they also have an exhibition. The show features a serialised video piece, Sadness is an Evil Gas Inside of Me, running at the same time as 3hd and featuring a cast of global creatives, including voice over by Vaginal Davis and cameos by actor Lars Eidinger and Britta Thie. The latter Berlin-based artist similarly has an episodic video work, drawing on Leigh Bowery and showcasing an international art scene in her Transatlanticsweb series. It’s for that she’s been invited to join the ‘Branding–Hype–Trends’ discussion of 3hd, with its focus getting lost in the panelists’ understandable inability to identify and deconstruct the complicated, inextricable inter-relationship between creativity and capital.
That collusion, or obsession even, is unsettlingly present at the HAU Hebbel am Ufernight of performances the following day. The plastic palm trees and cartoonish props of the exotic Contiki-esque Aurora Sander-designed ‘Love Jungle’ sets the scene for Dafna Maimonand Adrian Hartono’s performing the high-life in a massage for ‘Dear Unkown One’. Conceptions of luxury, money, power, feature heavily tonight. Classically-trained cellist Oliver Coates performs the disturbing soundtrack to a live rendition of Lawrence Lek’s ‘Unreal Estate’. The 3D animation travels through the empty rooms of an imagined London Royal Academy of Art, now up for private sale. Lek’s bilingual voiceover reads English and Mandarin translations of instructions on running a wealthy household from Russian Tatler magazine: “Learn how to do everything yourself. That’s how to stop the servants blackmailing you”. Colin Self’s multimedia performance of his sequential opera ‘The Elation Series’ is a festival highlight, while Aaron David Ross (ADR)’s ‘Deceptionista’ presents an assault of noise and real-time Vine videos shattered into violent shards of visual information fed through the Tabor Robak-developed VPeeker software.
Repeatedly, a blurring of boundaries between what you might consider ‘pop’ versus ‘underground’ circulates throughout the four-day event. Malibu opens a queer, vocoder-heavy sung performance at OHMwith Justin Bieber’s ‘What Do You Mean?’. A video presentation by Nicole Killian opens the ‘The Media, Fan and Celebrity Culture’ panel live via Skype from her home in Virginia. The Richmond-based artist talks Tumblr aesthetics and self-started teen girl culture as not only a subversion but a kind of hack into the power of celebrity by not just ‘killing’ their idols but by ‘eating’ them too.
That kind of pop culture cannibalism is something that Danny L Harle and DJ Paypal do in their own way at Südblock on the last night. The former does so by weaving his high-classical background with ‘low’ pop music appreciation into the slightly manic electronic opuses he and his PC Music peers have become known for. DJ Paypal, meanwhile, hijacks dance to develop an almost aggressive pursuit of a pure high. The subject of Justin Bieber again emerges at Vierte Welt as Simon Whybray shows the global superstar’s latest Purpose album cover as an example of bad graphic design in his opening lecture for the ‘Branding–Hype–Trends’. It seems that Whybray, too, is unsure of the distinction between what is and isn’t ‘bad’ when considering counterculture and its position within the mainstream, but then that’s probably, vitally, the point. **
The lineup for this year’s “label – magazine – festival” is stronger than ever, with The Labor of Sound in a World of Debt group exhibition on December 2 (featuring among others, Lawrence Lek and Simon Whybray); a ‘visual catalogue’ of composers, DJs, and media artists in Visual Pleasure, the Impact of Image Making (with Ilja Karilampi) on December 5; and the Happy Hyper Hardcore Dance Party with five different DJs on December 5.
Other events include a special lecture with Adam Harper on his book Infinite Music; a Google hangout with Nicole Killian; the Identities, Romantic Adventures sonic experiment and live performance with Malibu and Soda Plains.
“Hybrid project” 3hd Festival has announced its first batch of participants in its “label – magazine – festival” programme, to run online over the coming months and culminating in an IRL lineup of presentations and performance across venues in Berlin, running December 2 to 5.
The event series is a first for party organisers Creamcake, running since 2011, who have invited a number of artists, academics, designers, journalists, and curators from around the world to examine “what the labor of sound is today, what it’s cultural causes and consequences are, and how it might make it’s way forward in a world where individuals and cultures live within systems upon systems of debt.”