The Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art 2009 logo and double-tasking mother/yogi sums up the birth of a new, unified Berlin surmounting the struggles of integration.
(photo: bb9 logostroller © Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art).

Berlin, as a city that is recreating itself from a 360 perspective, is the ideal location for a new dialectic of art based on the Third Mind of collaboration. The Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (BB9) venues illuminate Berlin’s recent history as a bisected city…

The European School of Management and Technology (EMST) as the former building of the DDR governing council…(photo by Timo Ohler)

The Akademie del Kuenste was the set of the US Embassy in the television series Homeland, noted by Halil Altindere’s “Homeland 2016” video. (Photo © Akademie der Kuenste)

The Berlin location of “The Present in Drag” is a chief determinant of the contents of a biennale flush with funding and in a rare situation of being able to commission the artworkto create a uniform slick style.

In providing a visual uniformity under the banner of Uncertainty, BB9 fulfills its goals spectacularly. “The Present in Drag” is a catchy title that seems to divert interpretation even as it loads meaning of the present in which the only certainty is a new phase in the gender wars–towards a Third transgender reality which only adds to the uncertainty of a humanity born into duality.

Water is a prominent theme in the exhibition, in which the basement of KDW was immersed in water for a projection of a “drag” performance and a boat ride. “The feeling you get when you realized Internet access is a human right but water isn’t.” That one line, as included in the list of anxieties at the technology installation in the ESMT, the former council of the DDR, sums up the underlying quest of the Third Mind.

The promise of the Aquarian Age is here — the Third Mind arising out of collaboration which is the collective of four — three men and one woman (Lauren Boyle with
Solomon Chase, Marco Roso and David Toro) comprising DIS, the founders of a multimedia online platform curating this multi-venue BB9 as their premiere exhibition.

The promise of technology to create a unified world is also present. The theme takes hold in the ESMT main exhibition presenting new “global design” initiatives into the iconic postage stamp. Yet such modern iconography is accessed through the ancient reminders of the ongoing cycles of destruction and resurrection…

Katja Novitskova’s horns and fire as another unconscious reminder of the cycles that the technology, with its pride of linear progression, cares to forget. Neolithic Potential (fire worship, yellow horns), 2016 (Foto/Photo: Timo Ohler).


This is one of many juxtapositions defying the logical mind revealing the magic that comes from the Third Mind in teasing out themes from the unconscious. This is where Uncertainty dominates the consciousness and Uncertainty is precisely the place where humanity needs to surrender to in order to find that leftover piece to inspire the future.

Arising from the anxiety surrounding from Uncertainty are new permissions to collaborate with commerce, that is placed right in the thirst of the visitor, on a hot summer’s day to Akademie del Kuenste where a refreshing Mint drink is advertised and on display but not being sold.

Debora Delmar Corp.’s “MINT” 2016 teases our thirst for the iconic in both art and advertising. 2016 (Foto/Photo: Timo Ohler).

Playing with perception is the tropical island created inside the building and the collaborations with fashion that literally put you into bed with the gap created from the breakdown between boundaries of commerce and art. One expected to see price tags on the fashion items.

Center for Style adorned the balcony (Installation view Foto/Photo: Timo Ohler).

Why not?

Also the lack of distinction between design and art, with a juxtaposition at the Feuerle Collection expressing the traps of “gadget love”…

Josephine Pride’s “The New Media Express” and “Hands” consists of a toy train running by a wall of photographs depicting fondling of the hand apparatus, yet the tracks are not in the typical circle, but come to an abrupt linear end: a chillling reminder of Auschwitz. (Installation view
Foto/Photo: Timo Ohler).

….opposing the Yngve Holen’s “Window Seat” the repeating identical glass object reminiscent of an airplane window that the label tells us is derived from a universal icon of the “evil eye” in an attempt to be iconic on its own, complete with a label revealing points of purchase. (Installation View Foto/Photo: Timo Ohler)

The center of this venue is a repeating mantra: “COVER YOUR TRACKS”. Here is a text/image reminder that no matter what you fondle or purchase, Big Brother is taking account, as it certainly is in Korpys/Loffler’s “Transparenz, Kommunickation” two channel video installation smashing up surveillence with Occupy documentation in a repeating phrase of watchfulness.

The transparency of the architecture with the constant presence of the surveillance camera sums up the dissolving surfaces of modern life. The anxiety arising from this breakdown of boundaries, –not only between the digtial and the physical but art/design, art/commerce, art/entertainment and the personal/public–is the culmination of an (r)evolution taking place since the dada movement reacted to the devastation of World War I.

The breakdown confounds the mind in regards to the eternal question:


This is a necessary question to be asking as reality structures breakdown in 2016, leaving humanity open to either a major leap into a new paradigm in which the opposites are united or a devastation that Carl Jung warned would come about as a split between the opposites.

Clearly, BB9, by its very design, offers no concrete answers, only the dissolution accompanied by anxiety and new opportunities for definition arising with the breakdown of known structures as an underlying theme of the return.

The theme of anxiety accompanying our present epoch of Uncertainty was repeated in Berlin Art Week. Ann Imhof’s abysmal “ANGST II” collaborative “opera” at the Hamburger Bahnhof left a single lasting impression of the tension of the times: a tightrope walker.

A floating anxiety made real through material of infection contributed by the white “fog” in the gallery leads to new discussion about what is art on the verge of a new paradigm. Where only one participant had a recognizable name, Adrian Piper, cropping up like a repeating joke…

The iconic greeting from the most recognizable artist “brand” in the exhibition begs the post-Warhol question. “Howdy #6 [Second Series]”, 2015 (Mounted projection onto a closed door at the end of a darkened hallway © APRA Foundation Berlin. Installation View Foto/Photo: Timo Ohler).

If everyone who is an artist can claim a micro-celebrity status through the social network, what is the purpose of the art exhibition?

This review proposes that it is a public opportunity to enter the Third, a conscious embrace of the current state of Uncertainty, that reaps the rewards of the transbinary form as formulation…

…”The Present in Drag”.

Dr. Lisa Paul Streitfeld is a Kulturindustrie philosopher and critic based in Berlin.

All photos courtesy of 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art and the individual artists and used with permission of BB9.

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