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The 3rd Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art directed by Ute Meta Bauer presented 50 contemporary artists at KW Institute for Contemporary Art and, for the first time, also at Martin-Gropius-Bau. In addition 35 film pieces were shown at the cinema Arsenal.

As its central concern the 3rd Berlin Biennale aimed for the creation of a temporal space of discourse by fostering connections between local players of art and knowledge production. Ute Meta Bauer’s selection of writers, filmmakers, cultural producers and artists took place within the context of twenty years of structural changes that the city had experienced since the end of the East/West conflict. For the biennial, Berlin became a frame of reference in which to present a broad international spectrum of visual art, architecture, film, performance, sound art and urban interventions. The exhibition moreover reflected on issues of site-specificity, particularly in terms of comparing Berlin’s idiosyncratic topography to similar conditions in other European metropoles.

Five core themes called Hubs were mostly developed on-site by establishing direct relations to Berlin as an exhibition space: Migration, Urban Conditions, Sonic Scapes, Fashions and Scenes and Other Cinemas.

For the first time the Arsenal cinema at Potsdamer Platz functioned as an additional venue to present an extensive film program three times a week. Besides lectures and discussion events at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, the biennial included cooperation with numerous other local cultural institutions such as the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, MaerzMusik, Berliner Festspiele and Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz. Other novelties were the institutional partnership with the Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek and the temporary radio project reboot.fm, which did a weekly broadcast on the 3rd Berlin Biennale.

The 3rd Berlin Biennale ended with the three-day event, Performance Jam, featuring sound performances, concerts, readings and fashion shows during the final exhibition weekend.


Ute Meta Bauer

3rd Berlin Biennale, 14.2.–18.4.2004; Ute Meta Bauer, 2004; photo: Anita Back

Graphic Design

From the catalog

complex berlin

The frame of reference for the 3rd berlin biennial is Berlin’s heterogeneity, deriving from the myths of its past, from the alternative, subcultural and critical practice of the 1980s and early 1990s and from politically and economically motivated redefinitions and shifts due to the city’s role as the ‘new’ capital. A broad international spectrum of fine art, architectural, cinematic, performative, sonic and urban stagings enters into dialogue with Berlin-specific discourses. [...]

The goal of the 3rd berlin biennial for contemporary art is to take local contexts and circumstances, the art production that results from them and their relations to similar structures elsewhere and condense all of these in a temporary arrangement as a structure of interlocking discourses. In this way we aim to exploit the potential for the production of cultural knowledge, to insist on the relevance of artistic statement to our perception of contexts, and to generate a community of shared interests by calling on the public to participate autonomously. The incorporation of older artistic works produces connections to the situations and constellations of the early to the situations and constellations of the early 1980s seen from Berlin in the here and now.

The artistic positions represented at the 3rd berlin biennial, most of which are shown as series of works, appear alongside ‘hubs’ that have been produced by cultural workers: Migration, Urban Conditions, Sonic Scapes, Fashions and Scenes and Other Cinema. The metaphor of the hub is borrowed from the language of information technology, where it refers to a distributor of data within a computer network, and from its use as a name for a centre for air traffic. The hubs consist of specially designed spaces in the exhibition that function as nodal points or distributors of themes that are potent in Berlin – themes that emerge more clearly because of the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification have that certain urban and social changes have taken more rapidly here than in other large European cities. The connection of the hubs to the artistic works produces a ‘neighbourhood’ that enables an audience from all walks of life to establish cross-references between the works exhibited, to raise questions, to see the contexts differently, and to discover their own links in the subject matter of the contributions.