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EMBEDDED ART - Art in the Name of Security

Exhibition presented by Akademie der Künste and BBM
Installations, Performances, Lectures, Film programme
Akademie der Künste, Pariser Platz 4, Berlin-Mitte

24.01.2009 - 22.03.2009                            catalogue embedded art                    www.embeddedart.org


In 2009, the first exhibition of the year at Berlin´s Akademie der Künste will be devoted to a topical, highly political theme. EMBEDDED ART looks at the threats to unrestricted public life following the 9/11 attacks and the attacks in Madrid, Moscow and London. Security issues in the 21st century have an impact on the day-to-day life of millions of people. Since terrorism has reached major European and US cities that were once considered safe, citizens have been subject to increasing state control. To ensure comprehensive physical, political and national integrity, security has become a new ideology, the ´mantra´ of civilised society.

coetzer100331102954For EMBEDDED ART, the curators Olaf Arndt, Moritz von Rappard, Janneke Schönenbach and Cecilia Wee of artist´s group ´BBM´ have commissioned international artists to respond to the current situation. EMBEDDED ART will only show works realised on location or against a background of research into future security. The diverse works focus on the conflicting fields of terrorism and terror, security and control. Broadly speaking, the artists can be said to explore the subject in the following three ways: investigating the validity of ´new threats´, the predominantly technical reactions to these threats, and their resulting impact on society. EMBEDDED ART is the working principle, ´art in the name of security´ is the theme of the exhibition, a provocative phrase which itself is an artistic comment on one of the core questions of global development.

img_0871100329164024 EMBEDDED ART also reflects the ambivalent relationship between artists and the state military machinery. So-called ´war artists´ were dispatched to the front for the first time by the Australian government during World War I to capture the soldier´s experience directly at the scene of events. Even as far back as 1944, ´military science fiction´ authors collaborated with US army defence engineers to design the ´cyber-soldier´ in preparation for a Third World War. Today, the dispatch of ´war artists´ in the ´war on terror´ continues as a military practice. Artists in their capacity as researchers of the imaginary perhaps pave the way to a new reality, their fantasies selectively exploited for the development of new security strategies. EMBEDDED ART, conversely, introduces artists who are intent on enlightenment, not affirmation.

img_094310032916435 The exhibition venue - the Akademie building at Pariser Platz - is directly linked to the exhibition theme. The Pariser Platz, which was still a symbol for the end of the Cold War during the late 1990s, has become a security perimeter for international politics since 9/11. With its embassies, banks, a luxury hotel and architecture reminiscent of modern strongholds, it is located between the new hub of political power and the Holocaust memorial, hence the square is potentially one of the most-at-risk and most closely guarded, locations in the German Federal Republic. EMBEDDED ART´s exhibition concept incorporates Pariser Platz’s unique location, thereby creating a further level in the interaction of artistic imagination and stark reality, the project´s focal point.

The Exhibition
With more than 30 commissioned works, the exhibition not only highlights many of the pertinent issues relating to global security, it also offers fascinating insight into current trends in contemporary art practice, featuring artists from Germany, Great Britain, Japan, South Africa, Italy and Slovenia showing visual art, video art, media art, photography, music, and sound art.

The video artists Korpys & Löffler film a Rhineland-Palatinate-police riot squad workshop, where officers are instructed in the use of the TASER electronic control device. Painter Moritz ® portrays ´Five Peace Monsters´, the protagonists of new technologies for political control. Photographer Christina Zück travels to Karachi, where she records the ´psycho-geography´ of a site on the ´axis of evil´, collaborating with the Pakistani photographer Zahid Hussein. British dubstep pioneer Steve Goodman (aka Kode 9) in collaboration with sound artist Toby Heys illustrate the physical sensations of future sonic weaponry with their installation ´Unsound´. Peter Kennard mounts a 20-metre-wide collage on command centres - ´War Rooms´. Media artist and music producer Paul B. Davis reworks legendary ´Popcorn´-composer Gershon Kingsley´s ´Security-Song´.

 The influence of EMBEDDED ART will also reach beyond the Akademie’s walls into Berlin’s public spaces. Posters designed by six internationally renown graphic artists will spread the word all over the city. Works by video artists will be shown on a 60-square-metre display on the façade of the Akademie building. The performance artist Richard Dedomenici will stage interventions on Pariser Platz.

Exhibition Presentation
The exhibition format itself reflects the central issue of security, enabling the visitor to live the experience. Only projections of the works, transmitted from the hi-tech img_090210032916423secure basement of the building using the latest surveillance lille_zaji100331102648technology, will be seen in the Akademie´s exhibition halls. The visitors can choose to visit projections of the artworks in the exhibition halls for a small entrance fee, the originals can only be viewed on a guided tour of the secure area, accompanied by security personnel.

Ancillary Events
The exhibition will be accompanied by events, guided tours, debates and movie screenings. Each Friday, artists and guest speakers will discuss the exhibition in the temporary bar ´Bar zur inneren Sicherheit´ on the top floor of the Akademie overlooking Pariser Platz and Brandenburg Gate.


A comprehensive catalogue published by Argo Books, featuring specially commissioned essays, will accompany the exhibition.

catalogue embedded art

Press Quotes

DIE ZEIT, 5 February 2009
"Horrifying Humming" Tobias Timm
The artists participating in EMBEDDED ART do not wish to produce decorative commodities, rather, they understand themselves as radical preachers of Enlightenment…. The exhibition attempts to show how the fear of terror has been stoked and instrumentalised. As a result the show itself induces fear, that future technologies will be deployed in reality in the near future…. The visit to the underground cellars of the Akademie resembles a ghost train ride leading you from the world of make-believe into a menacing reality, increasing the visitor’s sensitivity to the current threats.

Tagesspiegel, 24 January 2009
“Mental Warriors” Kolja Reichert
It’s amazing how quickly the disposition capsizes. For so long, political art has been suspected of being oriented towards a practical goal, which in itself is hostile to the concept of art….The apologists for neo-liberalism, acknowledging their shipwrecked status, remain silent, now enabling critical art to be acceptable in a mainstream art context. With that, the ground has been prepared for a ground-breaking exhibition at the Akademie der Künste whose opening unexpectedly coincided with the Gaza war.

spiegel.de, 23 January 2009
"In Close Contact With the TASER" Jenny Hoch
We tolerate quite a lot In the Name of Security: surveillance, raids, data disclosure. The exhibition “EMBEDDED ART” in Berlin’s Akademie der Künste comments on this alarming development and challenges the boundaries of acceptability with its visitors. But above all, EMBEDDED ART deals with a powerful subject, particularly strong because of its societal relevance. Whereas in former times, the ideals have been liberté, egalité, fraternité, today the predominant ideal is security…. The exhibition elucidates a re-evaluation of the gulf between the older ideals and that of security, also demonstrating the problematic results of that re-evaluation.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 27 January 2009
"Self-experiments in Weapon Technology" Alexandra Mangel
The idea of the exhibition makes sense. That it can work as an exhibition is proved as soon as the doors of the goods lift in the second underground floor open and we are confronted by a Kandy-Kolored (Kool-Aid) Acid trip style oil on canvas painted by Moritz Reichelt…. The show is shocking, an honourable, enlightening research effort and a feast for fans of Michel Foucault’s “Discipline and Punish”.

Neues Deutschland, 3 February 2009
"The Production of Maximum Pain" Manuela Lintl
Of course it’s hasty to say at the beginning of the year that the Akademie der Künste has been installing the most important exhibition of the year with “EMBEDDED ART – Art in the Name of Security”. But this ambitious project will – most likely - be an exception amongst the palatable others of Berlin’s contemporary art jungle.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 25 January 2009
“Art of War Halls" Peter Richter
During EMBEDDED ART, the Akademie’s cellars, built by the architect Behnisch, get a taste of Abu Graibh…. When you find out that the Pentagon considered providing an ADS microwave pain beamer machine knowing that the exhibition will critically investigate the subject of Non-Lethal Weapons, and you discover that this critique of European security policy is sponsored by EU funding, then you’ll gain some idea of what the term ‘embedded’ means today.

Die Welt, 24 January 2009
"In the Name of Security" Gabriela Walde
The exhibition abstains from ham-fisted provocations, depicting and documenting more than she judges. However, those who expect the Akademie to come up with a top-down presentation, lush with discourse, will thankfully be most pleasantly surprised.

Frankfurter Rundschau, 26 January 2009
"In the Cellar" Harry Nutt
The curators’ approach is political in an eminent way and most of the commissioned artists have been following them on this path, according to which any one of us is under the control of an alien apparatus…. Most of the time we are too dull and inactive to imagine what the exhibition is clearly demonstrating: namely, the huge amount of scientific energy that has been put into the apparatus of building security…. There will be no-one left untouched by this.

Berliner Zeitung, 24 January 2009
"The Great Discomfort" Ingeborg Ruthe
Those expecting to engage with highly complex, brittle political fragments and wade through problematic debates will be surprised how visceral the exhibition is. Irritating and unsettling, yet elucidating, its also entertaining when, for instance, you see a Pop-Art style Bin Laden appear on the giant display of the Akademie’s façade, turning the “master of evil” into a comic figure. Thankfully, the exhibition refrains from dividing the world into good and bad, avoiding the judgment of gods and wise men. Only the Hauptstadtkulturfonds dared to finance such an aspirational, weighty and explosive exhibition.

Zitty, March 2009
"In Evil’s Den" Petra Reichensperger
Once again it’s the artists in their role as curators who consequently experiment with the format of the event exhibition. They thrust themselves into undermining the system by subversively executing the fundamental rules of security. There is no way that art can be more cutting in commenting on contemporary security policies.

Deutschlandradio, Barbara Wiegand
The mis-en-scene is very apt, inspiring and filled with fresh art…. Without doubt, an honourable show.

3Sat Kulturzeit
Very intense.

Radio1, Marie Kaiser
EMBEDDED ART takes place at the very right location. My advice is to go and see it. It’s worth it, but its tough…One of the most important exhibitions in Berlin.