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The Sun Machine Is Coming Down. Art at the ICC – 07.10.-17.10.2021

Editors’ Choice

Photo: ICC Berlin © Berliner Festspiele / Eike Walkenhorst

With “The Sun Machine Is Coming Down”, the Berliner Festspiele will open the International Congress Centrum (ICC), which has been closed for years, for ten days and revive the futuristic architectural icon from 1979 with new and adapted art in the fields of performance, artistry, music, film and installation with national and international artists.
The ICC will be open to the public from 7 October 2021, 4:00 pm.

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ICC Berlin © Berliner Festspiele / Eike Walkenhorst

The project initiated by Thomas Oberender and curated by the team follows the principle of simultaneity; just as the architectural design by Ursulina Schüler-Witte and Ralf Schüler envisaged for the congress building.

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Motiv „The Sun Machine Is Coming Down“ © Berliner Festspiele

Visitors experience the gigantic building freely during their 3.5-hour visit and explore temporary – announced or spontaneous – elements of the live art programme as well as permanent screenings, concerts and installations.

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Jonas Brinker: Tuesday, 31.01.2017 © Berliner Festspiele / Eike Walkenhorst

The permanent programme includes the screening programme of the Julia Stoschek Collection, shown in a loop in the largest room 1: the works, created between 1978 and 2018, question the relationship of people to their own bodies and their position in social structures. Whether as a hyperreal avatar in Ed Atkins’ work or as a dancer in the streets of Guangzhou in Cao Fei’s, the actors in the selected video works are united by their belief in the power of resistance that is hidden in simple, poetic gestures. Cinema Hall 3 will also be permanently occupied, and its art film programme will provide an insight into 70 years of festival history on the occasion of the anniversary. From around 1000 hours of film material from public and private archives, Thilo Fischer and David von der Stein restored over five hours in sound and vision and assembled three video works that bring together news, discourse and art. Thilo Fischer also curates a cinema programme with recordings of extraordinary concerts, performances, actions, reports, conversations and full-length films. Also almost continuously programmed is Hall 2, where music curator Martin Hossbach tests the compatibility of architecture and sound in the ICC with international and Berlin-based musicians – including Alexis Taylor, Nazanin Noori, The White Screen, Rosaceae and Tegel Media – in an extended music programme of concerts and lecture performances.

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Markus Selg: FRACTAL SONGS OF DISTANT EARTH. The Sun Machine Is Coming Down © Berliner Festspiele / Eike Walkenhorst

In the lower foyer, visual and acoustic installations lead the way into the ICC. There, Markus Selg fills ten glass showcases with sceneries of future and archaic realities that flow into the large space in light choreographies and sound worlds of Richard Janssen’s sound installations. Experimenting with biodiverse forms of coexistence, the self-organised group Floating University Berlin, active since 2018, is shaping discourse. It shifts its culture of conversation and ideas to the upper foyer of the ICC with various talk formats, while the Spider Walks initiated by Studio Tomás Saraceno open up the view of marginalised life. Here, the connection of existing knowledge with new needs resonates – a focus that artist Joulia Strauss also places on the further thinking of the media theory of her famous teacher Friedrich Kittler with sculptures, installations and discursive séances. Together with other companions, she will mediate daily scheduled séances as soul journeys to Friedrich Kittler in Hall 6 in honour of the tenth anniversary of his death.

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Joulia Strauss: An Friedrich Kittler. Seelenreisen. The Sun Machine Is Coming Down © Berliner Festspiele / Eike Walkenhorst

Artificial and human intelligences combine in Monira Al Qadiri‘s permanently accessible installation in the central foyer with three kinetic busts whose AI voices tell of the artist’s bizarre experiences and dreams during the Corona pandemic. On the other side of the upper foyer, Ayaka Nakama also celebrates the border between the grotesque and the magical in the botanical world of her four-hour solo “Freeway Dance”, in which her earliest memories of dance experiences collected from friends and family become the embodiment of dance itself.

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Ayaka Nakama: Freeway Dance. The Sun Machine Is Coming Down © Berliner Festspiele / Eike Walkenhorst

Another focus is on the arts in the field of dance and circus, the latter curated by Wolfgang Hoffmann. Performances in the water cylinder and chi gong on the forecourt of the ICC at the Messedamm traffic junction; repetitive circus exercises and dancing polystyrene on the listed 1970s carpet in the ICC lounge of the foyer; balancing on an arched scaffold under the mechanically moving, barrel-loaded stage system of Hall 2: Chloé Moglia, Jörg Müller, Darragh McLoughlin and Andrea Salustri as well as Alexander Vantournhout, Grace Ellen Barkey and Tino Sehgal reinterpret the spatiality through counter-gestures. Space is the basic condition of these body-poetic and circus narratives. In doing so, they play with states that are constantly threatened by failure – flying, the dream, emptiness, transformation, deception, transposition.

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Monira Al Qadiri und Raed Yassin: Suspended Delirium. The Sun Machine Is Coming Down © Berliner Festspiele / Eike Walkenhorst

With works by Monira Al Qadiri & Raed Yassin, Arachnophilia & Studio Tomás Saraceno, Ed Atkins, Grace Ellen Barkey / Needcompany, Dara Birnbaum, Bruno Eap, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Cao Fei, Floating University Berlin, Cyprien Gaillard, Barbara Hammer, Arthur Jafa, Richard Janssen, Ilya Khrzhanovsky & Ilya Permyakov, Scott King, John Carroll Kirby, Lawrence, Gordon Matta-Clark, Darragh McLoughlin, Chloé Moglia, Jörg Müller, Ayaka Nakama, Nalan, Nazanin Noori, Ulrike Ottinger, James Richards & Leslie Thornton, Rosaceae & Natascha P., Rachel Rose, Andrea Salustri, Tino Sehgal, Markus Selg, Joulia Strauss, Alexis Taylor, Tegel Media, Unguarded, Alexander Vantournhout / not standing, WangShui, The White Screen and many more.

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WangShui: From Its Mouth Came a River of High-End Residential Appliances. The Sun Machine Is Coming Down © Berliner Festspiele / Eike Walkenhorst


ICC, Haupteingang Neue Kantstraße, 14057 Berlin-Charlottenburg


Thursday, 7 – Sunday, 17 October 2021

Tue – Fri, 4pm – 2pm
Sat, 2pm-2pm
Sun, 14-23 h
Mon closed

Tickets: berlinerfestspiele.de/tickets

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