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, 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 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 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 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 in autumn 2015. 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. From September 2017 to January 2018, Ed Atkins’ exhibition “Old Food” was presented at Gropius Bau. Atkins 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 were juxtaposed with a wealth of costumes from the archives of the Deutsche Oper Berlin that were exhibited as an objet trouvé in the identical manner in which they are stored there. Together with composer Bernhard Lang and under the musical direction of Simone Young, Jonathan Meese brought a grand opera to the stage of the Festspielhaus with his overwriting of Wagner “MONDPARSIFAL BETA 9–23”. 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.

In January 2018, Gropius Bau’s Atrium became a conference venue, designed by Eva Veronica Born. In collaboration with the Federal Agency for Civic Education, we presented the international conference “INTO WORLDS. The Craft of Blurring Boundaries”, conceived by theatre and media researcher Andreas Wolfsteiner, which explored three areas of the immersive arts: spectacular entertainment formats, spiritual practices and manual techniques. Seated at a 110-metre long table, artists and scientists entered into an open exchange with the audience, while the surrounding exhibition spaces provided experiences of video art from the Julia Stoschek Collection, a virtual reality experience and a sound installation, among others.

In April 2018, we will continue our cooperation with ARTE and present the 360°-film “Mutter und Sohn = Realität trifft Kunst (Z.U.K.U.N.F.T. der Unendlichkeit)”. The first virtual reality production by Jonathan Meese and his mother Brigitte Meese is a journey into the heart of the dictatorship of art. In the artist’s virtual studio, the spectators will witness the emergence of a 360°-Gesamtkunstwerk of the future. For the initial presentation from 21 to 29 April 2018, the room designed by Jonathan Meese during the shooting process will be reconstructed at Gropius Bau. Visitors will be able to witness the creation of an artwork within an artwork. From this time, the film will also be available via the free ARTE360 VR-app and on ARTE’s website.

The summer of 2018 will be dominated by two large-scale exhibitions at Gropius Bau. French artist Philippe Parreno will create his first institutional solo-exhibition in Germany as a living organism that can be set in motion by light, sounds and images. It focusses less on individual objects and more on the choreographed interaction between the different components. The application of contingency methods allows the exhibition to evolve and transform over a certain period of time, so that the work takes on a life of its own and develops an eerie presence. In the resulting performative moments, the objects create more than the sum of their parts – a choreography of absence and presence that challenges our knowledge about the synchronicity of objects and the control over it.

Curators Tino Sehgal and Thomas Oberender have created a new format spanning group exhibition and performative art for “Welt ohne Außen. Immersive Spaces since the 1960s”. Ranging from the Light and Space Movement of the late 1960s to works by contemporary artists like Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Cyprien Gaillard and performances and workshops, this exhibition spans a panorama, featuring a great variety of immersive practices which blur the categories of viewer and work and diminish the distance between subject and object. Immersive works can only be experienced in their own respective temporality – they need a phase of departure, of immersion and emergence for which the exhibition will develop a specific dramaturgy.

For the programme series “The New Infinity”, we will join forces with Planetarium Hamburg from 2018 to 2020 to produce new artistic works for digital fulldome-systems used in planetariums. For “The New Infinity”, we will place the Planetarium’s Kuppelraum (domed hall) at the disposal of artists as a space of facilitation, where they can use digital audio and video equipment to attempt something that humankind has tried throughout the ages and various states of development: to create moments of unboundedness and intimations of something that transcends the boundaries of our perception – infinity. In the autumn of 2018, we will bring these artistic productions to Berlin’s public spaces for the first time, using mobile dome architecture.

Immersion has proved to be a guiding concept across all these activities for us, 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 the artistic experience.

“Immersion” is funded by

Der Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien