The Contemporary Art Festival Returns to Berlin
Berlin is bouncing back with the return of Berlin Biennale, a celebration of contemporary art that is set to run from Saturday 11th June to Sunday 18th September 2022.
As the name suggests, the festival takes place every two years, although the last one was postponed due to the pandemic. This year will be its 12th edition. While each edition has a new theme and participating artists and curators vary, the festival’s goal is to promote experimental art at venues across the capital.
While the first festival in 1998 focused on Berlin’s local art scene, 70 international artists also participated, exhibiting primarily new, contemporary art at venues ranging from KW Institute for Contemporary Art to Academy of Arts.
The second edition, themed around connectedness and contribution, was committed to public participation, with installations and films that engaged the public. Fifty international artists who viewed art as a communal experience were chosen to participate.
They say that life imitates art; well, in the third Biennale the curator was keen for the festival to reflect life, with themes of migration and urban conditions.
Berlin Biennale: The Middle Years
Never one to shy away from hard-hitting topics, the fourth Biennale dealt with the issues of birth, loss, surrender and nostalgia, with events in unconventional venues. The fifth edition held events outdoors at night, such as Cyprien Gaillard’s illuminated sculpture, The Arena and the Wasteland, in a park.
Since then, the festival has hosted a protest, dances, anxiety workshops and events on a sightseeing boat. It has also gone digital. Highlights over the years include Patricia Piccinini’s Truck Babies – two pink and blue lorries – and Berlinde de Bruyckere’s Lichaam (Corpse) horse hide sculpture. Audiences have also been treated to a model village and a race track in a room full of sand.
Berlin Biennale 2022’s Curator: Kader Attia
This year’s Curator, Kader Attia, was raised in Algeria and Paris, where he founded La Colonie in the 10th arrondissement – which works to bring people together. His recent projects include the 12th Shanghai Biennale in China and Manifesta 12 in Palermo, Sicily.
Attia has participated in group exhibitions at the Tate Modern in London, Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art and Solomon R Guggenheim Museum in New York. His solo exhibitions include 2019’s The Museum of Emotion at the Hayward Gallery in London and MATRIX 274 in Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in the US, as well as 2013-2014’s Continuum of Repair: The Light of Jacob’s Ladder at the Whitechapel Gallery in London.
So what next? Details of the 2022 edition are still being finalised, although Attia’s previous work, which has dealt with the concepts of destruction, repair and decolonisation, may provide a clue as to what to expect.
Whichever artists take part, one thing is for sure: audiences will experience thought-provoking, engaging art in unusual locations.