Berlin Biennale — Still Present


Mixed media

Berlin Biennale
Still Present

Past: June 11 → September 18, 2022

The Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art takes place every two years at varying locations in Berlin and is defined by the differing concepts of its renowned curators. It promotes experimental formats and provides the appointed curators the space and freedom to present the latest relevant and challenging positions independent of the art market and collection interests.

Each edition brings together artists, theorists, and practitioners from different fields to let them enter into a dialogue with the city of Berlin and its public. The German capital is continuously under change thus remaining fragmented, diverse, and contradictory. The Berlin Biennale explores artistic developments to present the unseen and the unfamiliar against the backdrop of this stimulating atmosphere. Participation in the exhibition has contributed to numerous young artists achieving international status.

“As diverse and varied as the worlds that comprise our current human reality are, they subsist amid the waste and cacophony that traverse global capitalism’s frantic and destructive race toward production. Since the onset of modernity, our planet has endured successive and ruinous changes that have accelerated alarmingly from the start of the third millennium. The place to which we have arrived today is not by chance: it is the result of historical formations constructed over centuries. In their egoism, modern Western societies have taken their own liberal character for granted, falsely assuming that the balance between free trade and universal suffrage guarantees a self-regulating system of universal democratic values. The dystopian society we have inherited from this utopian promise produces chaos but denies responsibility for it. In fact, the present world is the way it is because it carries all of the wounds accumulated throughout the history of Western modernity. Unrepaired, they continue to haunt our societies.

We must beware of the consequences of the capitalist logic of modernity/coloniality and its capacity to depoliticize the subject. The social worlds we inhabit today are articulated through cross-linked networked environments that interact in ways that are not immediately visible. More than ever before, algorithmic governance has taken over our present moment; it has become a field of unprecedented economic struggle over behavioral data extraction, which is such a powerful economic model that we feel powerless to free our present from its clutches. We project ourselves daily onto the future or past, while believing that we constantly act in the present. How do we reclaim our present? By reclaiming our attention. Art offers a present that is protracted and, above all, free. Inherent to emotion, consciousness is movement in the present: as emotional, interpretive beings, we are totally unpredictable in the present, and this allows us to escape the technologies of capitalist behavioral manipulation and imperialist governance that colludes with it. So more than ever, we must remain present!”

(Excerpt from Kader Attia’s curatorial statement. The full version will be published in the guidebook of the 12th Berlin Biennale on June 10, 2022).

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