Positive Pathways, GCC Collective
Positive Pathways is an installation inspired by Dubai’s newly instated Minister of Happiness. It questions the newfound culture of optimism that is emerging in parts of the Middle East and beyond. The installation itself featured a woman bending to speak to a child. They are standing on a platform of sand surrounded by a maroon running track.
View of Pariser Platz, Jon Rafman
The concept of virtual reality is a hot topic in recent times, especially as technology develops to make the experience even more compelling. In Jon Rafman’s work for the Biennale, viewers are invited to stand on a balcony over Pariser Platz where they undergo his three-minute Oculus Rift simulation of the exact same scenery, except that in Rafman’s version, an apocalyptic scenario transpires over the Brandenburg Gate.
There’s a word I’m trying to remember, for a feeling I’m about to have (a distracted path toward extinction), Korakrit Arunanondchai/Alex Gvojic
Being that contemporary art is a movement that spans across many mediums, no Biennale would be complete without a few film installations. Korakrit Arunanondchai and Alex Gvojic’s experimental video explores climate change and extinction, including that of humankind. Meanwhile, the venue itself, which is located on a boat, travels up and down the river Spree.
What the Heart Wants, Cécile B. Evans
A common theme throughout this year’s biennale is an exploration of our conceptions of the body and the social conventions that have ubiquitously become intertwined with it. Artists like Cécile B. Evans set out to dismantle these assumptions by blending human body parts with machines and digital entities in her film What the Heart Wants.
Oblivion, Anne de Vries
Many artists’ work also grapples with the supposed bleakness of postmodernism and the realities of post-internet culture. Anne de Vries, for example, sought to elucidate the impacts of media and technology on collective perception in her meticulously detailed diorama of a music festival. From a bird’s eye view, it is clear that we are constantly bombarded with stimulation, which can lull us into a state of oblivion.
Transit Mode – Abenteuer, Anna Uddenberg
Undoubtedly one of the most striking exhibitions of the year, Anna Uddenberg’s Transit Mode – Abenteuer, is an examination of the human form. Through shape and positioning of lifelike sculptures, Uddenburg challenges social conventions and highlights the fact that even the ways we move our bodies are performative rather than natural.
Power Rack, Rig, Squat Rack Nik Kosmas
Nik Kosmas brings a fascinating interactive art piece to the Biennale. Consisting of three multi-colored structures that essentially function as jungle gyms, Kosmas instructs workout sessions using this equipment. His work is derived from his love for fitness and nutrition in combination with art, thus expanding the parameters for post-contemporary art at large.
Happy Museum, Simon Fujiwara
Another artist to examine the concepts of happiness and optimism is Simon Fujiwara in his installation called ‘Happy Museum.’ With the help of his brother, an economist, Fujiwara’s work sheds light on the commodification of happiness using Berlin as his unit of analysis, subsequently exposing the absurdity of consumption as a means of finding true happiness.
Blockchain Visionaries, Simon Denny/Linda Kantchev
Looking further at the world of the commodity, Blockchain Visionaries is an installation that assesses the connection between corporations and branding, with special attention paid to three real startup companies and their relationship with the transaction database known as BitCoin. In the simulated trade-fair, each company has a stamp that it uses as currency as an examination of the way institutions use currency as a means of controlling commerce.
Duilian, Wu Tsang
Wu Tsang invites us to change the way we look at history through the installation Duilian, which intermingles fictional characters from different eras and genres to explore the way cultures change perceptions of their predecessors within her conceptual paradigm, ‘wild history’. The installation also focuses on the protagonist, Qui Jin, and her bonds with other women. In turn, we see how certain elements of the human experience render fact and chronology irrelevant.
MINT, Debora Delmar Corp
Debora Delmar Corp calls for people to come to terms with the social and political impacts of their actions, no matter how well-intentioned they might be. Focusing on the health food craze, Delmar sells healthy green juices whilst also exploring the ways that consumption of so-called super foods has very real impacts on the lives and economies of those living in developing countries around the globe.
Ewaipanoma (Rihanna), Juan Sebastián Peláez
Juan Sebastián Peláez literally deconstructs the human form through his work, Ewaipanoma (Rihanna), which features blown up images of many famous individuals with their heads removed and their faces superimposed over their chests. The goal is to question both body ideals and the feelings of otherness that so often arise in those that don’t fit them.
PRIVILEGE, Amalia Ulman
Amalia Ulman’s PRIVILEGE, depicts the ways that technology and the emergence of a culture industry have caused many to create completely fake personas for themselves, ones that often completely contradict reality. In this installation, she employs a pigeon as her counselor in an examination of the ways that race, gender, and other forms of stratification impact a person’s productivity and agency. Ulman simultaneously examines her own sense of privilege and conception of stereotypes.
#3, Shawn Maximo
In #3, Shawn Maximo identifies the fact that commercial environments serve as the interface between the real and the virtual. Drawing on his experience making signs for well-known brands, Maximo assigns digital images and aesthetics to spaces where they clearly do not belong in order to create a disorienting sense of visual contradiction, demonstrating the power of advertising to influence our perceptions.
Monument Right, Julien Ceccaldi
Illustrator Julien Ceccaldi creates highly evocative and relatable characters that oscillate between states of oversentimentality and apathy. For the Biennale, his installation features two large light boxes with a mixture of digitally produced images and hand painted figures. We witness a clear disjunction between the emotional states of the two characters, a conventionally attractive man and an emaciated androgynous person.