Angela Merkel and other magnets at the 8th Berlin Biennale

So, the 8th Berlin Biennial. Sueddeutsche Zeitung found it too shy, too careful. In his artnet article, Alexander Forbes wrote he doesn’t really find much innovation in it. He points out really quite striking parallels to the past dOCUMENTA (13), like the wish to tackle peripheral subjects, locations or artists. Or the mini „brain“, in Juan A. Gaitán’s case called „A private collection“, in the venue Haus am Waldsee. (Both artists I will write about here participated in the last documenta, by the way.)

Nonetheless, my visits to the peripheral venues in Dahlem during the first week of the show really paid off. This is not least due to two rewarding performances I got to witness.

The first was Goshka Macuga’s 50 minute play Preparatory Notes for a Chicago Comedy (thanks, Leonie and Christina, for saving that seat!). It draws on an 1895 comedy script by notorious art historian Aby Warburg, founder of the iconological method. With the help of curator Dieter Roelstraete, the artist took Warburg’s tongue-in-cheek account of conservative and liberal factions in the art world of his time and adapted it to comment on the art circus of our time. Hysterically funny at times, for example when performance artist Marina Abramovic annoys everyone (including Warburg) with her self-publicizing ego, or when Angela Merkel comments laconically on the phone-hacking scandal, it is also a great example of how artists can rewrite historical narratives, one of Gaitán’s aims at this year’s Biennale. Unfortunately, the one I saw was the last staging – but it was videotaped.

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Goshka Macuga in collaboration with Dieter Roelstraete, stage of Preparatory Notes for a Chicago Comedy, 2014 © Photo: Haupt & Binder

The second rewarding performance was a concert of Tarek Atoui’s Dahlem Sessions. Since October 2013, Atoui had repeatedly invited professional experimental musicians to play the historical instruments of the Ethnological Museum. Some of these instruments were unfamiliar to them and so they simply invented new ways of playing them: With magnets, portable fans, bouncy balls and other paraphernalia. The result was not only a very experimental half hour concert. Atoui and his musicians also recorded a “sound library” of their endeavours. They thus enhanced the collection of „field recordings“ of foreign sounds, ambiance, languages, chants and music already existent in the museum. I really like how incidentally, these sessions have now invented a new, experimental, weird musical language that could now once again be filed like an ethnological artefact. In this concert, the interconnection between history and presence was so tangible. 

Both of these performances highlighted the curator’s approach to history in the best possible way. Our very attentive friend Friederike noted another positive feature of this Biennial: She pointed out that this is the first exhibition she has (maybe ever?) seen that tackles a postcolonial subject without making the mistake of stating the artists’ country of origin on every label. So there. As Sueddeutsche Zeitung put it, it is an elegant but shy biennial. Maybe that’s a good thing, for once?

by Stefanie Gerke

PS: If you missed these events, there are other happenings at the Biennale that might enhance your experience of it. Like this special guided tour or this talk with the curator. Make sure to check out the program

NICHE FÜR CEE CEE: DIE TOP 5 DES GALLERY WEEKENDS 2014

Zum Gallery Weekend 2014 haben wir für Cee Cee Ausstellungen und Performances zusammengetragen, auf die wir uns besonders freuen. See you there!


UNPRAKTISCHE GEBILDE BEI ARRATIA BEER: FRIEDRICH TEEPE
"Unpraktische Gebilde" nannte Friedrich Teepe seine in der Tat sehr unpraktischen, aber faszinierenden Objekte. Der 2012 verstorbene Künstler arbeitete zeitlebens in Osnabrück und verwehrte sich einer internationalen Karriere, um stattdessen an einem Gymnasium zu unterrichten. Kuratorin Eva Wilson sagt deshalb über die gemeinsam mit Euridice Arratia zusammengestelte Ausstellung: "Es ist toll, der Ich-AG-Kunstwelt von 2014 eine sehr andere Künstlerbiographie entgegenzustellen." Die Abgeschiedenheit tat seiner Kunst keinen Abbruch, ganz im Gegenteil: Leinwände und Polster nähte, faltete, schnitt, bemalte und begürtete er zu großformatigen Gebilden, deren Eigenart fasziniert. Am 3.5. gibt es um 16 Uhr eine Performance des Cellisten Augustin Maurs mit Louis-Philippe Scoufaras, basierend auf der Zahl 3 und in Form einer abstrahierten Musikstunde. (Fotos: Courtesy Arratia Beer)
 
Arratia Beer, Potsdamer Str.87, 10785 Berlin-Tiergarten
Opening: 2.5.2014; Laufzeit: bis 14.6.2014
Performance: 3.5.2014, 16h


IM HINTERHAUS: ALEXANDRA BIRCKEN — UPSTAIRS BEI BQ
Die BQ Galerie ist schon länger für ihre konzeptuellen, philosophischen, wortspielerischen Schauen bekannt. Momentan widmet sie dem Turnerpreisträger Richard Wright eine sehenswerte Ausstellung in ihren Haupträumen, die ein Jahr lang (!) in Kapiteln aufeinander aufbaut. Zum Gallery Weekend kommt noch ein neuer Coup hinzu: “Upstairs” heißt die neue, regelmäßig zu bespielende Ausstellungsfläche der Galerie im Hinterhaus. Hier zeigt BQ aktuell Alexandra Bircken, die uns schon oft durch ihre eigenwilligen, organischen Skulpturen aufgefallen ist. Ihre Einzelausstellung heißt “B.U.F.F.”, das steht für “Big Ugly Fat Fellow”, die militärinterne, umgangssprachliche Bezeichnung für den amerikanischen Langstreckenbomber B-52. Die großformatigen Latexobjekte erinnern dabei nicht zufällig an überdimensionale Phallussymbole. Birckens experimentelle Verwendung von Material – sie hat Modedesign studiert – macht ihre Ausstellungen immer absolut sehenswert. (Fotos: Roman März / Courtesy BQ)

BQ, Weydingerstr.10, 10178 Berlin-Mitte
Opening: Fr 2.5.2014, 18-21h
Laufzeit: 3.5.-28.6.2014


OFFEN FÜR: SIMON DYBBROE MØLLER IN DER GALERIE KAMM
Simon Dybbroe Møllers Ausstellung “Aperture & Orifice” zu Öffnungen, Begehren und Aneignung in der Galerie Kamm zeigt, dass die Kombination aus Ironie und Kunst durchaus gelingen kann. Im engeren Sinne geht es um Fototechnik und Essen, im Weiteren um die Nähe von Vulgärem und Stilisierten. Das Video “Untitled (How Does it Feel” (2014)) kombiniert absurde Netzclips zur Canon Mark ii Kamera – diese nahm als erste Spiegelreflexkamera auch professionelle Filmsequenzen auf – und unterlegt sie mit dem titelgebenden Lied von D’Angelo. Ein grauenvolles Phänomen greift auch die Serie “Negative Plates”(2014) auf: Das Fotografieren der angerichteten Nahrung vor dem Einverleiben. Auf den Keramiktellern befinden sich mit aus Kunstharz gegossene Nachbildungen halb gegessener Mahlzeiten. Eine “Denkmal für das peptische Nichtstun”, so der Künstler, setzt Møller dagegen an der Kurfürstenstraße 142. Auf der umzäunten Brache einer Baugruppe arrangiert er zwischen Müll und Unkraut eine Spritzbeton-Skulptur aus seiner Serie “Sporting” aus dem Jahr 2013. (Foto: Courtesy Galerie Kamm)

Galerie Kamm, Rosa-Luxemburg-Str.43, 10178 Berlin-Mitte
Opening: 2.5.2014 18-21h
Laufzeit: 3.5.-14.6.2014


AUF DIE OHREN: IGNACIO URIARTE IN DER BERLINISCHEN GALERIE
Beim Gallery Weekend gibt es viel zu sehen. Zum Auftakt des Wochenendes gönnen wir unseren Augen deshalb noch eine kurze Pause und konzentrieren uns allein auf unseren akustischen Sinn. Ignacio Uriarte präsentiert im Eingangsbereich der Berlinischen Galerie “Acht Stunden zählen”. Uriarte, der Betriebswirtschaft studiert hat, setzt sich in dieser Klanginstallation, wie auch in früheren Arbeiten, mit der Monotonie des Büroalltags auseinander. Hier hören wir einen Mann zählen. Acht Stunden lang. Jede Silbe nimmt dabei eine Sekunde ein. Uriarte verweist damit nicht nur auf den regulären Arbeitstag eines Angestellten, sondern gliedert diesen durch Sprache neu. Am Ende der acht Stunden ist der Sprecher bei der Zahl 3599 angelangt. Und wir vermutlich froh, dass wir den Büroalltag für diese Woche bereits hinter uns gelassen haben. (Foto: Courtesy Berlinische Galerie)

Berlinische Galerie, Alte Jakobstr.124-128, Berlin-Kreuzberg

Eröffnung mit Brunch: 3.5.2014, 11h; der Eintritt zur Ausstellung ist zwischen 10-12h kostenlos Laufzeit: bis 30.6.2014


RÄTSELHAFTES MIT KATINKA BOCK BEI MEYER RIEGGER
Eine weitere, mysteriöse Performance gibt es am Samstag auch bei der Galerie Meyer Riegger zu sehen und zwar im Rahmen der Ausstellung “Februar” von Katinka Bock. Bock verwendet natürliche Materialien – die Arbeit “Martinzùl”(2014) etwa besteht aus Holz, Stoff und Salz – ohne dabei ins Esoterische abzurutschen. Ihre Arbeiten sind angenehm einfach und klar und zeichnen sie sich durch aberwitzige Spannungsverhältnisse aus. Häufig konzipiert sie sie ihre Arbeiten erst in den Ausstellungsräumen, was die Skulpturen und Interventionen zu Begegnung von Gegenständen, Situationen und Räumen macht. Umso gespannter sind wir auf ihre Performance “Nord”. (Fotos: Courtesy Meyer Riegger)

Meyer Riegger, Friedrichstr.235, 10969 Berlin-Kreuzberg
Eröffnung: 2.5.2014, 18-21h; bis 31.5.2014
Performance: 3.5.2014, 12h

WHY SO SERIOUS

Yes, it’s an anniversary – 10 Years of GW – and yes, there will be amazing gallery shows. Only, these shows will be on for a couple of weeks and this weekend you won’t see much of the actual works anyways (due to the crowds of people), so why not go for more fun activities and discover the less known spots to start with? Voilà: Our personal Gallery Weekend selection for our favorite Berlin blog – Stil in Berlin

WEDNESDAY

Alicja Kwade at CFL

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The Contemporary Food Lab states to be a platform for the hungry for knowledge, which investigates how our diet shapes our relationship to nature and vice versa. Part of their interdisciplinary approach is – of course – artistic collaborations and they invited Berlin based artist Alicja Kwade to react to their quarterly topic »stagnation«. As far as we’re concernced: we’re curious to see both, the CFL space and of course Kwade’s new pieces 24 Stunden and Stellar Day (23 Stunden, 56 Minuten, 4,099 Sekunden.

Contemporary Food Lab Exhibition Space, Bergstr 22, 10115 Berlin

Opening 30.4., 7-9 PM

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Christoph “radicality” Schlingensief

When the young lady at the press conference asked Klaus Biesenbach to “say something” about Christoph Schlingensief’s radicality, a giggle went through the room. Asking this is like asking to comment on Christoph Schlingensief himself. He was radical all through. And much too complex to be explained in one sentence.

But this young lady had of course, in a way, nailed it: Radicality is really the word that keeps coming back to your mind when walking through the exhibition that opens today at KW - Institute for Contemporary Art, curated by Biesenbach, Anna-Catharina Gebbers, Susanne Pfeffer and Aino Laberenz. Who but Schlingensief would do a “Hitler Stalin Porn”? 

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Or who would make you go through a stair lift procedure, only to discover one of his provocative little videos behind a curtain?

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And who else would make people sit on stakes for hours to make them profess their fears?

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A lot has been said about this incredibly diverse artist, film maker, opera director, and his oeuvre. But maybe not enough of it has been seen. We advise you to plan a whole day for your visit of this show. It contains innumerable videos, films and complex installations that deserve a bit of our attention. Their influence cannot be underestimated.

There is something else you can do to help Schlingensief’s legacy to live on: Donate for his Opera Village Africa. Help this unique project to survive. We certainly did.

http://www.operndorf-afrika.de/index.php/spenden.html

http://blog.operndorf-afrika.de/ 

http://www.betterplace.org/de/projects/14952

TANAS: More questions than answers

Walking up Heidestraße, around the corner from Hamburger Bahnhof, it’s hard to believe that this street used to be one of Berlin’s gallery hotspots. The area is currently under redevelopment and feels more like no-man’s-land than ever -  rows of car garages on one side, construction sites on the other. Even Tanas' staircase in the industrial backyard is pitch-black, but for the glow of a neon sign in arabic.

The sign - a work by Mario Rizzi - reads Ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ an-niẓām (‘The people demand of the fall of the regime’), a slogan that first emerged during the Tunisian revolution and became closely associated with the Arab Spring. This political undertone characterizes many of the artworks on display in the current show, The Unanswered Question, Iskele 2, including Olaf Metzel's large, hand-folded aluminum sheets.

Olaf Metzel, ‘Taksim’, 2013

Printed with press photographs of protests in Turkey, it is as if the artist had rescued the pages of a crumpled newspaper and given them permanent life inside the gallery. Born and raised in Kreuzberg, Metzel is interested in the way Turkish newspapers in Berlin reported on the events in Istanbul. As the artist explains, ‘Parallel societies here in Germany are evident not just in the language’. 

Although Tanas describes itself as Berlin’s centre for Turkish art (Tanas is an anagram of the Turkish word for art, ‘sanat’), the current exhibition incorporates artists from many regions, including the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East and Germany. For those who missed Annika Kahrs’ Playing to the Birds at abc,here is your chance to catch another glimpse of the German artist’s beautiful video installation. 

Using the same medium as Kahrs but striking a much darker note, Adel Abidin's 1 + 2. Ping Pong consists of two players competing in a heated match of table tennis. Instead of a net, a naked woman lies in the middle of the table. As the ball flies back and forth the players are oblivious to the woman’s pain and we as viewers are torn between the thrill of the match and our repulsion at this aggression on the human body. Perhaps this can be seen as an allusion to the suffering of women caught in the crossfire of men’s power struggle?

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Video Still, Adel Abidin, ‘1 + 2. Ping Pong’, 2009

This, and many other ‘unanswered questions’, are what make Iskele2 one of the most engaging shows of the season. But hurry: the exhibition runs until Sunday, Nov. 3rd, after which Tanas will be permanently closed, as its curator Rene Block moves on to other projects and ventures. 

Tanas, Heidestraße 50, 10557 Berlin, Tues to Sun 12-6pm

Field Trip

Yes, it’s Berlin Art Week, and yes, there’s plenty to see. But there is one little thing, right in the heart of Berlin, which makes you escape from all that bustle. On your way to Auguststrasse you can easily drop by Torstrasse 111.

Step through the big old door into the courtyard, where this Saturday The Bakery takes place. At this performance-like project by Egill Saebjörnsson, curated by Annabelle von Girsewald, Berlin based artists broach the issue of food by producing bread. The Bakery is a process-orientated project which will find its end in a “café exhibition” in 2014, which shouldn’t be missed, since there will be cake.

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Despite this familial happening in the courtyard, one can discover the surrounded group of buildings, where the resident artists exhibit their works. This group-show, which can be visited till Sunday, brings together most different themes.

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Ausstellungsansicht Tarantula Tentacle

In the first room, Diego Fernandez and Thilonius Staudt present a wide range of their paintings, comic-like impressions of contemporary urban life.

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Still: Ulu Brau, Forst, 2013

Ulu Brauns Forst, screened in the ruin in the back of the courtyard, reflects a modern approach to nature in contrast to an ancient mythic appreciation. The narrative collage-video opposes different situations, contrasting yet enhancing each other. 

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Ausstellungsansicht Tarantula Tentacle

The initiator of Torstrasse 111, Ingo Fröhlich, exhibits in another room of the ruin. His abstract chalk-circles on schist lie on the floor and perfectly fit in these rooms, with the old dirty ceiling and white walls.

Back in the courtyard there is nothing else to do then soak in the calm atmosphere and enjoy the native garden before you get back to Torstrasse and Berlin’s busiest week.

Opening hours Tarantula Tentacle: Sat 3pm - 10pm, Sun 3pm - 10pm.

Pictures: All Courtesy Ulu Braun

High Flyer at abc

Conceptual yet unpretentious, clear yet fun: Annika Kahrs and Kasia Fudakowski are among our favorite contributors to abc. By the way, we’re delighted to see how many young promising female artists are participating this year! But back to our favorites:

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Annika Kahrs,Playing to the Birds, 2013, HD-Film, 14 min Courtesy the artist &  Produzentengalerie, Hamburg

Annika Kahrs’ works address the impact of irritations on the perception of situations. Some might have experienced her performance piece in KW’s show “One on One” lately. It consisted of two piano players pausing their play as soon as you entered the room. At abc, Produzentengalerie presents Kahrs’ video Playing to the Birds, 2013 – a video on the construction of communication and perception. It documents a pianist playing Franz Liszt’s Legende # 1, a solo piece full of twitter-like trills. It is based on the legend of St. Francis of Assisi preaching to and being understood by birds. Now, the pianist’s audience consists of cage birds. The viewer thus observes birds listening to a piano play, based on the »translation« of their communication into a score. Captive in a highly artificial environment exposed to unnatural communication, they have nothing in common with the wild protagonists the saint patron of animals communicated with.

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Detail: Annika Kahrs, Playing to the Birds

Kasia Fudakowski is a story-teller, too. She has this amazing sense for the absurd in real life. She often creates delicate, odd, amorphous objects, often combines steel with diverse materials such as clay and fabric. In one way or the other, her sculptures always refer to something identifiable - no matter how abstract they are. Fudakowskis objects populate the exhibition space like the protagonists of sketches. Some are kinetic, some can be props for performances, too. But then, one single, static sculpture can be as strong as to re-write the context of its surrounding. Fudakowski creates the most unlikely links between objects – and it works: she brings out the absurd in what we thought we were familiar with. We can’t wait to get her intriguing glass balloon sound piece at hand and see Fudakowski perform – every day!

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Kasia Fudakowski, I am really enjoying this, 2013, glass balloon, mp3 player, headphone, Courtesy the artist & Chert, Berlin 

What’s the link between Kahrs’ cage birds and Fudakowski’s glass balloons, you’re asking yourself? Both will surely fly high at this year’s abc.

Watch out for Fudakowski’s daily perfomance Pessimistinnen.

Not just about the money: Collaborations between galleries at this year’s abc

Sure, a partner can come in handy when you have to pay a four-digit fee for participating at abc. But then, of course, the collaboration between two or even three galleries can turn into a thought-provoking creative progress, that makes one plus one add up to much more than two.

We spoke to gallerist Heike Tosun (Soy Capitán, Berlin), who is collaborating with Galerie für Landschaftskunst (GFLK) to present a new installation by Klara Hobza. GFLK is an unusual gallery slash project space in Hamburg. It was co-founded by artist Till Krause in 1992, and has been promoting and featuring artists with a strong interest in interventions outdoors, in the public sphere, ever since. GFLK is also where Tosun first became aware of Klara Hobza in 2009. Hobza had relocated all her artworks from her studio in New York via raft, kayak and freight container to Hamburg, to exhibit them on the dismantled raft in Till Krause’s space (Departing America, 2009). Tosun, who admires this kind of innovative exhibition practice typical for GFLK, was eager to collaborate for abc. »It’s been like forming a temporary collective with Hobza and Krause«, she says. The ideas are circulating and gaining from the three different perspectives: gallery, artist and project space.

We can’t wait to see the result: At this year’s abc, Hobza will surprise us with the outcome of an impossible horserace. More cannot be said yet, but we are sure, with all these thought-provoking ideas flying around, it will be great.

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Official poster for Klara Hobza, The Last Race which took place on the “Land for 5 Final Acts”, 2013

 

What about a little torture on friday 13th?

Be quick, Friday 13th is your last chance to get a first glance at the world’s nearby future – at least its utopian vision as presented by km temporaer . new atlantis brings together fascinating and most different approaches by young artists with amongst others Mexican, Iranian, US-American, and Swiss backgrounds who question present power-relations and their possible future impact.

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Baden Pailthorpe Cadence (2013), HD video, colour, stereo sound, 6 minutes

Oval Office (Mikko Gaestel / Jaakko Pallasvuo) Cooler (2013), Water cooler, water, paracetamol, codeine, dimensions variable

 

Their second-last show in their 170m² apartment – which they had taken over for the last one and a half years – presents the ideas of utopia and the innovations it motivates in the realms of technology, biology and sociology. The curators Elisa R. Linn, Lennart Wolff and Judith Lavagna brought together approaches in the media video, illustration, installation and sculpture. The artworks reflect some present age images on an utopian future like the 45min film Cyborgs in the mist (2011/ 12) by Gwenola Wagon and Stéphane Degoutin, which is one of the works that struck me most. It presents the fictional research lab LOPH, where scientists and researchers test utopian scenarios and their possible impact on mankind. Interviews and sights of Google-Streetview come together to form a pseudo- documentary.

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Antoine Renard, Utopic compost (New Earthlike Samples) (2013),  8 acryglass tubes, variable components, 130 cm x 70 mm each

 

While Wagon and Degoutin present a fictional approach to the question of how they see the future, Antoine Renard shows the actual temporal connection between present and future in his installation Utopic compost (2013). Eight identical acrylic glass tubes stand in the middle of the biggest of the seven rooms. They are enlivened and filled with biological, chemical or industrial products and its diverse states of rotting visualize human impact on nature and vice versa.

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Detail: Antoine Renard Utopic Compost

 

This rather biological approach confronts Anne de Vries’ sculpture Hold on (2012). Web-based information of closer-future events are printed on common towels which are arranged around a towel rack leading upwards, playing with the terms progression and innovation, while showing existing possibilities of technology on banal everyday objects.

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Detail: Anne de Vries, Hold on (2012), Stainless steel, digital print on towel

 

A social notion of utopian scenarios is represented in the “dark room”: Luc Mattenbergers Help for a Revolution (2010) resembles a medical facility to enhance one’s posture, but you can’t avoid a latent association with torture instruments. For the upright position of strength with a raised fist, the user is forced to act in a revolutionary way.

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Luc Mattenberger Help for a revolution (2010), leather and steel

Bettina Pousttchi Starker Staat 2, Starker Staat 10 (2003), photographs, 88 x 110cm

 

Another feeling of heteronomy is created by the two photographs Starker Staat 2 and Starker Staat 10 (2003) by Bettina Pousttchi in the same room. The digitally altered pictures resemble surveillance camera footage and therefore evoke an uneasy feeling of suppression – especially together with Mattenbergers work.

 

The exhibition leaves the visitor with a latent discomfort, nevertheless mindful of their own behavior and environment.

 

PS: km temporaers last show  is in collaboration with Florian Kuhlmann and starts on Sep 20th. 

A show by ff features the theme of future aswell: The Oracle - What is your Prophecy for the Future? opens Sep 12th at 7pm. 

all images: courtesy of km temporaer

by Julia Heldt