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Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art

12th Edition: Still present!

Since its first edition in 1998, the Berlin Biennale has been taking place every two years at various exhibition venues in the city under the direction of changing curators and themes. The 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art starts on June 11 and explores decolonial strategies and practices for the present through exhibitions, interventions and events until September 18.

This year's curator is Kader Attia, who as an artist, thinker, and activist has been particularly concerned with the notion of repair, first of objects and physical injuries, but then also of individual and societal traumas. Under the title Still Present! the artists invited by him and his team from different parts of the world deal with the legacies of modernity and the resulting planetary emergency.

How can a decolonial ecology be shaped? What role can feminist movements from the Global South play in the re-appropriation of historical narratives? Or: Can the field of emotions be reclaimed through art? These and other questions will be negotiated at six exhibition venues that were deliberately chosen because they map historical ruptures as well as political and social transformation processes that began in Berlin and have an impact far beyond the city. We briefly introduce these locations below. Click on the entries for more information on opening hours.

Tickets

Tickets are 18,00 €, reduced 9,00 €, up to and including 18 years the entrance is free. You can get them here or at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Akademie der Künste (Pariser Platz) and Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin. Tickets entitle the holder to a single visit to all exhibition venues, including the other exhibitions at Hamburger Bahnhof, and are valid for the entire duration of the exhibition. At the exhibition sites Dekoloniale Memory Culture in the City and Stasi Headquarters, Campus for Democracy, admission is free.

Guided tours

During the Biennale, the Museumsdienst Berlin offers public tours every weekend at the Akademie der Künste (Hanseatenweg and Pariser Platz), Hamburger Bahnhof and KW Institute for Contemporary Art. These are free with a valid exhibition ticket, and registration is on site:

  • Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg, Saturdays 2 p.m. German, Sundays 4 p.m. English
  • Akademie der Künste, Pariser Platz: Fridays 5 p.m., German/Engl. alternating
  • Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin: Saturdays 2 p.m. in German, Sundays 4 p.m. in English
  • KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Saturdays 2 p.m. in German, Sundays 4 p.m. in English

Combined tours for groups through various locations are also offered. These can be booked by calling 030-247 49 888 or by e-mail: museumsdienst@kulturprojekte.berlin.

Akademie der Künste, Berlin
© Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

Akademie der Künste

Hanseatenweg und Pariser Platz

Founded in 1696, the Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts) is one of the oldest European cultural institutes. It is an international community of artists organized in the sections of fine arts, architecture, music, literature, performing arts, film and media arts. It had its headquarters on Pariser Platz since 1907, before the building was largely destroyed in the last days of the war in 1945. In divided Berlin, the Hanseatenweg site was built in the sixties. The new building at Brandenburg Gate was not occupied until 2005. Nevertheless, the Academy building on Pariser Platz, which was still unrenovated in 1998, was one of the exhibition sites of the 1st Berlin Biennale. After further exhibitions at one of the locations each, the current edition now occupies both buildings for the first time.

© faf.berlin

Dekoloniale

Memory Culture in the City

The model project Dekoloniale - Memory Culture in the City was created at the beginning of 2020 to critically examine the history of colonialism and its consequences. It is largely supported by actors who have been involved in Berlin's critical examination of colonialism for years. The associated project space is located at Wilhelmstraße 92 between the former sites of the Reich Chancellery and the Foreign Office, thus at a place where European, U.S. and Ottoman envoys met in 1884/85 for the Berlin Africa Conference and agreed on the rules for the colonial division and exploitation of the African continent. It can be visited at any time (window display).

Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, Invalidenstraße 50, Berlin-Mitte
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / David von Becker
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, Invalidenstraße 50, Berlin-Mitte © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / David von Becker

Hamburger Bahnhof

Museum für Gegenwart Berlin

Today, Hamburger Bahnhof is a permanent exhibition space for contemporary art from the collection of the National Gallery of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. It was built in the mid-19th century as the terminus of the Berlin-Hamburg line. Despite several reconstructions, it could not keep up with the growing volume of traffic on the rails, so that its closure followed in 1884. After various interim uses, the building was severely damaged several times during World War II in 1943. Subsequently, it lay unused for decades in a no-man's land between West and East Berlin during the division of Germany. It was not until 1996 that Hamburger Bahnhof was opened in its current form after extensive reconstruction and renovation.

atelier le balto Archipel, 2017, Mixed media, Courtesy atelier le balto, Photo: Fran Sperling
© Foto: Frank Sperling
Café Bravo. KW Institute for Contemporary Art. © Foto: Frank Sperling

KW Institute for Contemporary Art

KW Institute for Contemporary Art is dedicated to the production, presentation, and mediation of contemporary art and addresses central questions of the present. It does not have its own collection, but is a laboratory with exhibitions, artists' studios and events. Founded in the early 1990s in a former margarine factory in need of renovation in Berlin-Mitte during the turbulent post-reunification period, KW has established itself as a lively venue for progressive artistic practices and networked internationally. The Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art was also founded here and hosted for the first time in 1998. Since then, KW has been a fixture as the Biennale's exhibition venue.

© BStU / Dronebrothers
© BStU / Dronebrothers

Stasi Headquarters

Campus for Democrary

With around 50 buildings, the headquarters of the Ministry of State Security in Berlin-Lichtenberg was a huge complex in GDR times, in which up to 7,000 full-time Stasi employees worked. From here they organized the surveillance of the population and the foreign espionage of the GDR. Today, the former bastion of the secret police is a place of education about dictatorship and resistance and sees itself as a place of learning for democracy. Today's Stasi Archives house around 43 kilometers of files containing personal data on GDR citizens. In 2018, the exhibition "Insight into the Secret" opened, which provides information about the mass spying by the Ministry for State Security.