CTM Festival 2020 celebrated and evolved the concept of liminality, hybridization and transgression comprehensively considering all of them as are not enough in and of themself.
The Festival drew inspiration from music and contemporary art and offered several inputs to expand the considerations beyond the disciplines and the meaning of boundaries – in their acceptance of multifaceted spiritual practices and social rituals as well as aesthetic, psychedelic, and other transformative experiences.
Liminal spaces are zones and abstract ideas whose limits and goals remain uncertain: what does it really mean to enjoy music performances in their peeks and limits? What does it mean to interpret arbitrarily arts? What does it really mean a 360° clubbing experience? Could it be exhaustive to examine carefully in advance all the performers and gigs or live an immersive music experience means to let yourself go into a deep and naive journey without preconceptions?
Based on these reflections, it started our experience at CTM 2020, in Berlin.
The acclaimed HBO series Chernobyl is also known for its remarkable soundtrack.
The sounds of this work are captured from an actual power plant (Ignalina – Lituania), including pumps, reactors, and turbines which created a constant sense of anxiety – performed in a stunning location (Bethonalle – Silent Garden), earlier used as a former crematorium that operated for only six months before the crematorium was finally closed down.
The overall experience was enriched by acoustic instrumentations and field recordings combined with astonishing changing-lights and smoke-effects.
It has already been written almost everything about Berghain: from the absurd theories about bouncers’ selection strategies to the club’s descriptions as an enchanted black universe full of stairs, corners, dark spots, and hidden places. You can pretty much do whatever you want in this place, and moreover nobody will ever know – if it’s your concern.
Anyway – Thursday night was a soft-clubbing night.
I found interesting the perception that all the people in these ambiguous spaces find ourselves more clearly; it seems that somewhere precarious between a past that is no longer present and an ever-becoming future could help to stimulate both imaginations and freedom – that’s liminality, maybe.
The proposed artistic perspectives in this exhibition open up interpretations of in-betweens and thus, at the same time, question their opposite: the places that are supposedly “real” and concrete. It is thus revealed that unambiguity is arbitrarily produced through coexistence.
The Interstitial Spaces exhibition takes the questions of CTM 2020’s theme beyond the margins of music through an accurate selection of different atmospheres and immersive rooms.
In the catastrophic theories on technology and control, the artists Louis-Philippe Demers and Bill Vorn introduce “Inferno,” a participatory robotic performance enacting an experience of hell and punishment. Addressing many persistent anxieties around the relationships between humans and technologies, and the shifting boundaries between them, “Inferno” envisions infinite punishment as endless automation and subordination to the machine, as participants are drawn to the spectacles and thrills of submission.
Participants are divided and split allowed only partial control over their own bodies. In this liminal experience of purgatory, the ambiguous possibility of salvation hangs overhead beguiled audience members, who submit to a spectacle of suffering.
The 2nd night at Berghain was characterized by a lineup full of nu-gabberisms, drum’n’bass evolutions, between anxiety and ecstasy, panic and after-hours enhanced by explosive multi-disciplinary connections – it’s quite rare to become involved in “a unique commission between Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Festival and CTM, Gabber Modus Operandi are joined by Wahono (of Uwalmassa, a Jakarta-based project that explores connections between contemporary electronics and traditional Indonesian sounds), and Uganda’s Nakibembe Xylophone Troupe, one of the few remaining groups that perform on the embaire—an extremely rare and gigantic indigenous wooden xylophone that is simultaneously played by eight musicians.”
You Will Go Away One Day But I Will Not
Through this immersive installation in the tropical greenhouse, Alves and Dalt attempt to open a space for the multifarious voices of the forest—organic and inorganic, human and non-human, speculative and lived—while also pointing to their silencing and erasure by European colonists.
The political impact and the role of communities are quite prominent and create such experiences and practices affect political and cultural impact.
Is it enough to practice forms of experimental politics in a liminal space that has to make do without tangible utopias?
Transmediale – The Eternal Network
The Eternal Network is a group exhibition about the persistence of networks, with a focus on their potentials and limits in response to current social and technological changes.
In times of environmental and political turmoil, networks have lost their mass appeal and are the subject of widespread backlash: blackouts, propaganda, hate speech, addiction, and a human desire to disintermediate from the platforms of surveillance capitalism. Still, networks are ubiquitous, and thus both the poison and cure for the act of organizing within activism and politics alike. With the now more tangible limits of networks in mind, the exhibition asks how effectively they respond to future models of sociality, technology, and politics.
By connecting “The Eternal Network,” critical net cultures, and contemporary artworks, the exhibition closes the loop between the pre- and post-internet moments. With the backlash against networks in mind, it re-examines the legacies of critical net cultures, asking if and how they will continue to have an emancipatory relevance in the future.
CTM 2020 – as they used to highlight – throws itself into limbo in hopes of stimulating a critical discussion of our present and possible futures.
They thrust us into the grey zone between the two sides of a supposedly clear demarcation.
At the end of this all-embracing days in Berlin, we feel like we’re in between. Within ambivalence and perpetual evolution, we float on air without assurance nor sureness – a bit dazed.
How and in what shape will we emerge? What/who will we encounter along the way? Is there anything else beyond this liminal zone?
At Berlin-Tegel gate, we feel like we were fluctuating forms, minds, and bodies both regenerated and deflagrated.
Text by Marco Gardenale
Pictures by CTM