About Immersion


Go in instead of look at – Allan Kaprow’s idea has been the leitmotif of our Immersion programme conceived over several years. Since 2016 we have presented works in this series that often occupy territory on the borders between exhibition and performance. At the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, the Martin-Gropius-Bau and in other venues we present pioneering artistic positions and investigate and interrogate formats, narrative forms and everyday practices that recalibrate our relationship between activity and passivity.

The programme opened in Autumn 2016 with Mona el Gammal’s Narrative Space “RHIZOMAT” in a former East German telephone exchange, Lundahl & Seitl’s unconventional museum tour “Symphony of a Missing Room”, the exhibition »Talking is not always the solution« by Omer Fast and the discursive-performative weekend “Schule der Distanz” at the Martin-Gropius-Bau. The 360°-Film “RHIZOMAT VR” was created together with ARTE and INVR.SPACE, extending Mona el Gammal’s Narrative Space into the digital space and receiving its world premiere in March 2017 at the SXSW (South by Southwest) Festival in Austin, Texas. Since then it has also been available to view in our Virtual Reality Experience Space designed by TheGreenEyl and using the ARTE360VR-App.

In July 2017 we took over the first floor of the Martin-Gropius-Bau with a cluster of three exhibition modules under the collective title “Limits of Knowing”: for the scenic installation “Nachlass – Pièces sans personnes” Rimini Protokoll developed a series of rooms with eight different individuals, each of which should provide a memory of them after their death. The multisensory spatial installation “Haptic Field (v2.0)” by Chris Salter + TeZ focussed on the boundaries of one’s own body and perceptions, while the exhibition “Arrival of Time” curated by Isabel de Sena in autumn 2015 in collaboration with artists and scientists from LIGO California Institute of Technology explored a new concept of time that has evolved as a result of the first ever measurement of gravitational waves. With “Unknown Cloud on Its Way to Berlin” Lundahl & Seitl staged a social artwork that brought people together using their smartphones to experience a cosmic phenomenon that could only be seen on an app and that created an intense sense of community. The same was also true in a very different way in Vegard Vinge and Ida Müller’s creation and production of their very own theatre. They spent over six months building their “Nationaltheater Reinickendorf” in a former industrial space and then performed works there on ten consecutive nights that included the continuation of their “Ibsen-Saga” and a Hamlet musical. The programme continued in October with a major opera: together with the composer Bernhard Lang and under the musical direction of Simone Young Jonathan Meese brought his overwriting of Wagner “MONDPARSIFAL BETA 9–23” to the stage of the Festspielhaus, whose alpha version was premiered at the Wiener Festwochen. Jonathan Meese was responsible for direction, stage and costume design and framed the performances with the installation “ERZGRÜNER TOTALSTHÜGEL DE LARGE (EVOLUTIONSPARSIFAL’S MONDRAUM)”, produced exclusively for the Berliner Festspiele.

Until January 2018 there is still a chance to see the new work by Ed Atkins “Old Food” at the Martin-Gropius-Bau. Atkins has developed his most extensive installation to date for the galleries of the exhibition venue. Nine computer-generated works on large video walls and flat screens are juxtaposed with a wealth of costumes from the archives of the Deutsche Oper Berlin that are exhibited as an objet trouvé in the identical manner to which they are stored. They sabotage their actual role as tools of immersive storytelling to the same extent that Atkins’ videos continually subvert their own realism and the sophisticated technology with which they are created.

In January 2018 the Lichthof of the Martin-Gropius-Bau will become the venue for an exchange including leading scholars of immersive arts, artistic interventions and the audience. In collaboration with the Federal Agency for Civic Education we present the international conference conceived by the theatre and media researcher Andreas Wolfsteiner “INTO WORLDS. The Craft of Blurring Boundaries”, that explores three areas of the immersive arts: spectacular entertainment formats, spiritual practices and manual techniques.

For us, Immersion has proved to be a guiding concept across all these activities, facilitating a better understanding of many of the artistic and social developments of our times and necessitating a reassessment of classical institutions, their missions and their working practices. The Immersion programme is our way of feeling out this new territory and attempting to develop original, emancipatory visions and forms of enduring artistic life.

“Immersion” is funded by

Der Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien