English / Deutsch

what is waiting out there


With the title what is waiting out there, the exhibition presented contemporary positions by more than 40 international artists whose work centrally questioned the notion of the present and the role of contemporary art in relation to the now. The presented artworks (more than half of them new productions) reflected and made visible the multiplicity of ways in which art appropriates and produces the many different realities of our contemporary times.

On invitation of Kathrin Rhomberg the American art historian Michael Fried curated an exhibition with works by Adolph Menzel produced in cooperation with the Alte Nationalgalerie and the Kupferstichkabinett of the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin. By showing a selection of drawings and gouaches by the great 19th century realist from Berlin contemporary art was juxtaposed with an art historical position that served as a contextualization to the 6th Berlin Biennale’s point of view.

Kathrin Rhomberg opened up the curatorial process of the exhibition by organizing it in collaboration with other artists. Michael Schmidt’s photo series Frauen (Women) was on view on billboards in public space both during the run-up and throughout the biennale. Marion von Osten chose the e-flux Journal as space for her artistic contribution and edited one issue of the magazine. Thomas Locher developed the graphic treatment of the 6th Berlin Biennale together with the graphic designer Yvonne Quirmbach whilst Marcus Geiger designed the exhibition architecture in close collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg herself.

Already before the official opening, the 6th Berlin Biennale commenced with the project Artists Beyond which was funded by the European Commission. The project engaged in a public dialogue with several artists such as Mark Boulos, Phil Collins, Marcus Geiger, Nilbar Güreş, Petrit Halilaj, Thomas Locher and Marie Voignier, and took place at the sites where they were currently working on their pieces for the 6th Berlin Biennale. The creative process itself was thus made a public part of the biennale.

La monnaie vivante / The Living Currency / Die lebende Münze (after Pierre Klossowski) was another exhibition project which took place during the first week of the biennial. The three-day event was curated for the 6th Berlin Biennale by Pierre Bal-Blanc and produced in collaboration with the theater HAU Hebbel am Ufer and the Centre d’art contemporain de Brétigny (CAC Brétigny). Over the course of the three days, the exhibition La monnaie vivante constantly changed its appearance as it juxtaposed contemporary and historic perceptions of the body in visual arts with notions from dance, music and theater. During this event the audience at HAU played an active part in an open-ended performative process.

A solo exhibition with works by George Kuchar—created in collaboration with Marc Siegel—was furthermore presented in a warehouse space in Berlin-Kreuzberg. On the opening night Andrej Kuzkin and Marlene Haring performed in the gallery. Marlene Haring continued her performative interventions moreover throughout the entire duration of the exhibition.


Kathrin Rhomberg

6th Berlin Biennale, 11.6.–8.8.2010; curator Katrin Rhomberg; photo: Manfred Unger

Graphic Design
Thomas Locher, Yvonne Quirmbach

From the catalog

What is waiting out there

Can [art] make disparate realities perceivable and prompt us to participate reflectively in them? That is the central question to be posed by the 6th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. How can it aid the viewer in assuring him/herself of his/her existence and of the world, in feeling more present in this world? Does it have the means at its disposal which film or other media and art forms do not? How can it call attention to the gap between the pseudo reality postulated by the public and personal life reality, how can it criticize this gap, or raise an awareness of it? How can it convey strange and unfamiliar realities by means other than hermetically sealed narrative forms, and thus reflect this strangeness in our own reality? In the midst of the overwhelming abundance of visual imagery produced incessantly by our media, how can reality and a critical view of its underlying conditions even be created? And finally, how does this reality relate to the present and its “passion for the real”?

No satisfactory answers to any of these questions will be found in the exhibition. Indeed, the aim of the show is not to provide answers, but to pose questions. It will have reached this goal when it succeeds in calling attention to the questions. That is why the option of producing an exhibition catalogue of complete and argumentatively self-contained essays was abandoned. Instead it was decided that the catalogue would consist of transcripts of roundtable discussions required to fulfil only one criterion—to discuss reality.

If we recapitulate the developments and tendencies of the last two decades, we will be compelled to concede that contemporary art has not escaped the increasing economization of all areas of life. Considering art’s history, the hope that its traditional resilience to the dominating forces of society would prevent its suffocating usurpation proved to lack the very sense of reality this exhibition is appealing to.

Not only the financial world, but also the art world has recently dug itself into a realm far removed from reality, governed by fantasy and the conviction that even the most obvious illusion will prove meaningful. In this economically determined system, art has radically deregulated itself, in the name of freedom shed its autonomy and, often, even its contents. Like our world, it is characterized by economization, fragmentation, intractability. At the same time, there seems to be a connection between the impossibility of orientation in a world shaken by global crises on the one hand and, on the other hand, new forms of historicism and retrospection as well as a return to aesthetic and formal issues—tendencies observed in the Western art world over the past few years.

The exhibition seeks alternative standpoints on this perspective presently prevailing in art, a perspective that is not directed at what is waiting out there, but is, on the contrary, introspective in nature.