Welt Am Draht at Julia Stoschek Collection in Berlin


WELT AM DRAHT (english: World on a Wire) is the title of the first presentation in the new temporary Julia Stoschek Collection satellite at Leipziger Strasse 60 in Berlin’s Mitte district. In line with the Julia Stoschek Collection’s insistence that it be contemporary, the exhibition is devoted to media-based pieces that address the influences and changes in our social reality, identity and environment since digitalization. In 38 main pieces by 20 international artists all drawn from the Julia Stoschek Collection, starting with large video installations, sculptural works, performance, a monumental live simulation through to a purpose-made piece by artist collective K-HOLE the exhibition highlights current art strategies and a completely new artistic formal idiom first enabled by the latest technologies.

WELT AM DRAHT derives from the eponymous two-part 1973 TV movie produced by German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The plot is derived from SIMULACRON 3, a novel by US author Daniel F. Galoye dating from 1964.

Nothing is left to chance at the Institute for Cybernetics and Future Research. Ostensibly for research purposes, a private corporation uses a mainframe to create a computer-animated world where economic and social developments can be simulated in order to make forecasts and thus lay the basis for decision-making. This mainframe goes by the name of Simulacron 1 and is capable of perfectly simulating a section of reality with all the respective inhabitants. All the simulated persons have their own minds, but no idea that they are part of a virtual reality.

One of the central pieces in the exhibition is the live simulation by Ian Cheng made in 2015. By means of the virtual animated real-time simulations that arise through the 3D videogame design Cheng enables viewers to experience the microscopic but essential mechanisms of the complex, multi- millennia-long process of evolution. The artist construes his real-time simulations as “neurological gymnastics” intended to familiarize the viewer with the experience of constant change and with states of confusion, anxiety and cognitive dissonance.

Artists such as Britta Thie or K-HOLE draw on ad images as the primary language for their works. The structure of consumer and product experiences in capitalist societies and the creative industries become the main theme of art.

By contrast, Jon Rafman, Wu Tsang, Hannah Black and Hito Steyerl spotlight the inner turmoil of digital culture as expressed by changed gender roles, political bodies and the subculture of online communities.

Another aspect of the show is the definition of mortality, as is especially evident in the two video installations A Minute Ago and Palisades in Palisades made in 2014 by Rachel Rose. Her subject matter and venues range from Philip Johnson’s Glass House to the American War of Independence and park layouts in the 19th century. The narratives overlap with one another, reveal different angles on death, and morph into a kind of deja-vu in the viewer.

The works in the exhibition share in common a critical thrust that asks how digital technology should be limited and justified. In this regard, the individual art forms oscillate between the different genres. They radically cast into question traditional notions of the artwork and the original creation of pictures as the main task of art.

Participating artists: Ed Atkins, Neïl Beloufa, Hannah Black, Ian Cheng, Loretta Fahrenholz, Cao Fei, Melanie Gilligan, Camille Henrot, Juliana Huxtable, K-HOLE, Josh Kline, Helen Marten, Jon Rafman, Rachel Rose, Timur Si-Qin, Frances Stark, Hito Steyerl, Britta Thie, Wu Tsang, Amir Yatziv

Julia Stoschek Collection (JSC) – Leipziger Strasse 60 (entrance: Jerusalemer Strasse), D 10117 Berlin
2 June – 18 September, 2016