The 9th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art

Posted on June 12, 2016 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Berlin Biennial kw institue

KW Institute for Contemporary Art


After the disappointing DMY design festival, I stumbled upon The 9th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art (4th June until 18th September) by chance, and decided to check out it out. A €16 ticket (€26 including a boat trip) includes admission to four venues across the city. Due to time constraint, I only managed to visit three of them; but unlike other mega art fairs, I rather enjoyed these exhibitions.


Office of Unreplied Emails by camille henrot

Office of Unreplied Emails by camille henrot  Office of Unreplied Emails by camille henrot

'Office of Unreplied Emails' by Camille Henrot


My first stop was the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, where the four storey building was filled with various disciplinary art works by international artists.

On the 3rd floor, French artist Camille Henrot's new project 'Office of Unreplied Emails' occupies the entire floor. Created in collaboration with Jacob Bromberg, the installation presents sympathetic, over-emotive, and personal responses to one hundred unanswered emails in Henrot’s inbox from environmentalists, politicians, activist groups, and online shops. The project addresses the ever-changing modes of information distribution and interpersonal experiences that result from the so-called digitisation of our present day. It also considers the subsequent emergence of trolling, phishers and scammers—new modes of duplicity, abuse, outrage, and bullying.


"What the Heart Wants," by Cécile B. Evans

Oblivion by Anne de Vries

DSC_0460-min  Schwarze Pumpe by Lucie Stahl

Schwarze Pumpe by Lucie Stahl  Schwarze Pumpe by Lucie Stahl

Top row: 'What the Heart Wants' video installation by Cécile B. Evans; 2nd row: 'Oblivion' by Anne de Vries; 3rd right & bottom rows: 'Schwarze Pumpe' by Lucie Stahl


It took me a while to find the second venue – Feurele Collection, even with the aid of Google map. Located by the canal in Kreuzberg, it is easy to miss the new museum, which is inside a former World War II telecommunications bunker (1942–44). There is no signage around it, and I only noticed it when I saw several visitors standing outside of the entrance.

Opened in April of this year, the private museum houses art historian and connoisseur, Désiré Feuerle's collection of international contemporary and Southeast Asian art and Chinese design. Refurbished by the renowned British architect John Pawson, the museum is an exciting addition to the artistic and cultural-rich city.


Berlin  berlin

The Feuerle Collection

The Feuerle Collection

The Feuerle Collection  The Feuerle Collection

Josephine Pryde's 'The New Media Express'

Josephine Pryde's 'The New Media Express'

The Feuerle Collection  Korpys/Löffler's video installation 'Verwisch die Spuren!'

Yngve Holen's 'Window seat 10–22 F'

The Feuerle Collection – 5th & 6th rows: Josephine Pryde's 'The New Media Express'; 7th right: Korpys/Löffler's video installation 'Verwisch die Spuren!' Botton row: Yngve Holen's 'Window seat 10–22 F'


I love the museum space, as the minimalist style reflects Pawson's respect for the building and history. At the exhibition, the most prominent features are the mini rail track and miniature train installed by English artist Josephine Pryde. 'The New Media Express' is a five-inch gauge model of a full-size train, complete with graffiti added by artists unknown. The train tracks run parallel to a series of photographs mounted on the wall focusing on hands and various sorts of transmitters. Visitors can view the artworks by sitting on the miniature train, forward and backwards!

German artist Yngve Holen's 'Window seat 10–22 F' features a row of glass-blown objects inspired by the pupil-like Nazars (from the Arabic word for “sight” or “seeing” that protect against the "evil eye") designs that are sold in countless tourism shops globally. Here, Holen's versions are shaped and sized like the portholes of Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” planes and are installed in a row, and they serve as windows to the world of global mobility – conjuring themes of superstition, economics, tourism, and social unease.


Akademie de Kunste

Akademie de Kunste

Akademie de Kunste  Timur Si-Qin's 'A Reflected Landscape'

Simon Fujiwara

M/L Artspace's "in bed together"

 Anna Uddenberg's Transit Mode – Abenteuer, 2014–16: Journey of Self Discovery

DSC_0588-min  Jon Rafman’s L’Avalée des avalés (The Swallower Swallowed)

Akademie de Kunste

Akademie der Künste – 3rd right: Timur Si-Qin's 'A Reflected Landscape'; 4th row: Simon Fujiwara's 'The Happy Museum; 5th row: M/L Artspace's 'in bed together';  6th row: Anna Uddenberg's Transit Mode – Abenteuer, 2014–16: Journey of Self Discovery; 7th right: Jon Rafman’s L’Avalée des avalés (The Swallower Swallowed)


My last stop of the festival was Akademie der Künste, situated at the touristy Pariser Platz by the famous Brandenburg Gate. Designed by Stuttgart architect Günter Behnisch, the glass building's foyer is occupied by several conspicuous video installations.

Throughout the exhibition space, visitors would encounter some unusual sculptures created by Berlin-based Swedish artist, Anna Uddenberg. Her ongoing project (since 2014), 'Transit Mode – Abenteuer' investigates how body culture, spirituality, and self-staging, examining social codes within consumer culture as they relate to class, gender and sexuality.

One familiar name at the exhibition is Berlin-based English artist, Simon Fujiwara. A room has been turned into 'The Happy Museum' through consultation with his brother Daniel, an economist working in the field of “happiness economics.” Part scientific laboratory, part archaeological display, and part boutique, this selection of objects is a sly materialization of econometric data ostensibly gathered on the well-being of Berliners. The installations and performances question the way we conventionally experience artworks, melding fact with fiction to indicate where such distinctions seem no longer relevant.

Unfortunately, my visit was disrupted by the fire alarm as we all had to evacuate from the building; and I did not return afterwards. As much as I enjoy visiting art exhibitions, often I prefer to ramble around the city to experience it directly. Yet if you are traveling to Berlin this summer, and you are bored of the touristy sites, then I would recommend this festival – if contemporary art is your cup of tea.

This post was posted in Exhibitions, Travel, Art, Berlin and was tagged with contemporary art, Art festival, Berlin, Berlin Biennial