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.
For 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
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.
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.
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.
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 secure basement of the building
using the latest surveillance technology, 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.
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
A comprehensive catalogue published by Argo Books, featuring specially commissioned essays, will accompany the exhibition.
catalogue embedded art
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.
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.