The event is inspired by Marta Minujin, Allan Kaprow and Wolf Vostell’s 1966 staged international project “Three Countries Happening”, which took place in New York, Berlin, and Buenos Aires where some of the happenings occurred concurrently and were aired on channel 13 in Buenos Aires. The press release states, “To celebrate this post-digital condition that has changed the way art is practiced, we will stage simultaneous screenings in New York, Beijing, and Berlin, bringing together artists living in the these art metropolises”.
The event is meant to also address how the internet has changed and expanded studio practice into the realm of social media.
“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 Berlin artist will be performing with the French-Canadian musician ahead of the opening of her solo show, Translantics. The Schirn is for the first time presenting art that would not be possible without the internet and digital technologies, and Thie’s exhibition is their first step into the digital art realm.
Thie’s web series, Translantics, will appear in six monthly episodes, starting on April 28 and continuing until September 28. The “digital chamber play embedded into the network” tells the story of three young women living in the globalized, culturally homogenized world of present-day Berlin.
The event invites anyone aged 16 and over to be a part of the agency’s new commercial, to be featured on the Special Service website for a fee and selected tapes will be screened at a (free) ticketed event on April 29
That’s part of the opti-ME* project, a month-long exhibition and event series at Auto Italia opening April 26 and running to May 25.
The exhibition explores artistic agency and modes of production, inviting collaborators to occupy a
transformed Auto Italia space and use it as an experimental testing-ground for new work and proposals.
One of these collaborators is of course Special Service, an ongoing collaboration between Annika Kuhlmann, Julia Zange and Britta Thie, founded in 2013 and announcing itself as “a new model of a modeling agency” interrogating networks of image production in fashion.
The concrete underground rooms of Berlin’s Alte Münze, accessed through heavy bank vault doors, provide an aesthetically crude backdrop for raw reflections on money and emerging forms of social engagement, both online and off.
With the building and venue name literally translating to “old mint”, it’s a fitting location for an exhibition set to interrogate the insidious relationship between capital and art, the increasingly widespread “capitalisation of the social sphere”, and dispersed and precarious monetary relations giving rise to the so-called ‘creative class’. The conceptually dense Surplus Living exhibition, curated by Elisa R. Linn and Lennart Wolff of km temporaer and London-based poet and writer Harry Burke,features the work of 19 artists and contributions, in a group show tackling the theme from assorted angles, ranging from the acutely literal to abstractly analytical.
Britta Thie’s images of a group of young, pale white models (herself included), lounging nonchalantly, replicate the visual language of advertisements in a starkly banal counter-gesture to some of the more abstract pieces in the show. Hung in the middle of one of the rooms, the women in the photos watch from all angles as visitors circle the outer perimeter, quieting critique with a simple gaze from the commercial ‘other side.’
The collaged, densely packed ink-on-paper scrawls by Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, on the other hand, provided concrete, theoretical reflections on the role of the artist within a capitalist art market. The tiny print of ‘The Meaning of Everything’ (2008) offers innumerable insights, notes and observations about the politics inherent in the production and consumption of art, saturated with references to political theorists like Marx and Lenin and delineated like a cognitive flowchart marked by arrows and equal signs.
The Russian collective of artists, critics, philosophers and writers, Chto Delat?, screened the 37-minute long film ‘Tower’ (2010) from their Songspiel triptych. Mostly set around a boardroom table, with a comically large rotary telephone in the centre, the story is based on real documents of Russian social and political life, as well as an analysis of the conflict that has developed around the planned Okhta Centerarchitectural development in St. Petersburg. The narrative is interspersed with varying political reflections by a chorus of Russian citizens: xenophobic workers concerned with a takeover of migrant labour, bourgeois businesspeople supporting development in the name of a “New Russia,” and revolutionaries calling for a “communist skyscraper!”
The exhibition is broadly divided between these poles. Here, it presents either a tongue-in-cheek reproduction of commercial imagery, construed in an ironic repositioning putting our everyday experience of advertising into stark relief as in Thie’s piece –but also Yngve Holen’s sculptural work ‘Sensitive 2 Detergent’ (2012) and Josephine Meckseper’s video ‘Mall of America’ (2009) –or more academic and researched musings on particular political events and theories.
Constant Dullaart’s ‘Rave Lecture’ performance at the openingmanaged to playfully merge these positions. Around 10pm the lights in the foyer were turned off and the room was suddenly infused with the loud penetrating beats of Dullaart’s BRIC Mix –a selection of euro house club mixes from the so-called ‘emerging’ economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Dullaart’s manifesto ‘Balconism: Balconisation not Balkanisation’ was projected on the wall, set to the pace of the BRIC mix. In a strange juxtaposition, the quickly moving words offered a considered and articulate critique of online proprietary systems and the myth of the Internet –as well as select examples from the outside world, like Zuccotti Park as a locus of privately-owned ‘public space.’
Dullaart’s critique, set in the framework of a highly commercialized, fast-paced Euro disco, reflected the wider aim of the show. To varying degrees, all the contributions to Surplus Living aimed to question the way in which even forms of enjoyment and social interaction (like the rave or the exhibition itself) are sadly permeated with economic and commercial concerns. **