This past Friday, seven artists and seven technologists, working in pairs assigned by Rhizome, took up residence in workspaces across the city. The rules of engagement were simple: they were given one day to make something, which would be made public the following day at Rhizome’s Seven on Seven conference, presented by HTC.
Seven on Seven can have the feel of an Olympic figure skating mixed pairs event in which the pairs have never met before. Part of the drama is around whether they hit the triple axel, so to speak: will their projects be any good? But there is another dimension to the drama as well, which has to do with the conversations and relationships that unfold on stage, the sparks that fly when two interesting minds come together.
What follows is a description of the projects that came out of Saturday’s event, as well as the sparks.
Pierre Huyghe, A Journey that Wasn't
Today is the start of my first full week here at Rhizome in the role of Editor & Curator.
This disjunct between reality and its illusory other, the world of privileged consumerism, was at the heart of the 6th Berlin Biennial. In the exhibition catalog, curator Kathrin Rhomberg wrote that there is a growing "gap between the world we talk about and the world as it really is." In an effort to close this gap, the Biennial wrestled with contemporary issues and realities far beyond the gallery walls - an all-too-rare impulse in the hermetic field of visual art.
Unfortunately, this Biennial may well have convinced many of its visitors that artists should stick to the studio; too many of the works lacked any nuance in their portrayal of external realities. There was a highly unpleasant video of a horse being knocked off its feet, subtly titled Problems with Relationship. There was Bernard Bazile's inept installation of shouty protest videos from Paris. There was Sebastian Stumpf running into private garages just as the doors closed behind him, Indiana Jones-style.
Yet there were also moments of brilliance along the way. At its best, the Biennial yielded keen insights into the conditions of contemporary capitalism and the relationship between the personal and the political. Without further ado, here are some of the highlights.