Thursday evening at Berghain hosts several fearless, challenging artists who act as flagbearers at the urgent forefront examining identity, sexuality, spirituality, and sound.
Tara Transitory aka One Man Nation embraces performance as an “explicit expression against the prefabrication of culture.” Living and working nomadically, Tara defies and refuses to commit to real nation states as well as to the firm boundaries of the ‘nations’ that are gender, identity, and musical tradition. Her music employs field recordings and sounds from a midi controller and 64-button monomer. In most performances she also places self-built piezo contact microphones on the venue’s furniture as well as on the instruments themselves, so that the system picks up sounds including fader and knob movements, button-pressing, and physical motion from both Tara and the audience. The resulting sound mass communicates an individual and global state of emergency.
Second on the bill, the Japanese group A set out into hybrid geographies between music and performance art. The duo was formed in 2012 by Tommi Tokyo (synthesizer, vocals, percussion) and Sayaka Botanic (violin, synthesizer, cassette tapes), and from the beginning, their shows came as a shock to most spectators. While their mixture of synth-heavy minimal wave, avant noise, striking visuals and performance art carried the very breath of early industrial pioneers such as Throbbing Gristle or Cabaret Voltaire, the duo has since evolved into a beast of its own.
Laying her Kate Wax moniker to rest after releases on Trevor Jackson’s Output and James Holden’s Border Community, the enigmatic Aïsha Devi embarked on a new adventure with Danse Noire, her sanctuary-label, in 2013. The label is dedicated to exploring abstracted techno/club structures, and Devi’s own music references her Tibetan and Nepalese heritage and uses machines to transmute deep meditation. Having successfully debuted her newest full-length, Of Matter And Spirit full length (Houndstooth) live this past October in Berlin, Devi returns to premiere her first live A/V show. Devi’s music is accompanied by visuals by rising Chinese artist Tianzhuo Chen, who recomposes his existing video and performance materials into a mad whirlwind. Colourful, grotesque, and kitsch imagery dominated by direct references to drugs, LGBT hip-hop, the London rave scene, Japanese Butoh, and voguing forge intimate connections to our daily lives, in which everything a celebrity says or does creates new mythologies.
Celebrated NYC rapper, producer, and style icon Le1f is a trailblazer in a growing, fiercely creative hip-hop scene especially welcoming to gender fluidity, playfulness, and identity exploration. His newest LP, Riot Boi, came out in November 2015 on Terrible/XL and included collaborations with producers Blood Diamonds, Evian Christ, and Lunice.
To close the evening, Lena Willikens delivers her polychromatic shards of post-punk, jagged electro, and left-field house. Equal parts DJ, producer and radio host, she is an established Friday night, vinyl-in-tow resident at Düsseldorf’s Salon des Amateurs and a member of the forward-thinking Cómeme clan.
Throughout the evening, video work “The Great Puddle” by duo Graw Böckler is on display in the ground floor entrance hall. Generally shallow enough to walk through and with a tendency to gather on roadsides on rainy days or from backed-up sewers, the non-transparent water in puddles hide all sorts of objects - from dangerous items like broken glass, to rubbish or small lost knicknacks. Graw Böckler invited friends and acquaintances in different cities such as Novosibirsk, Valencia, Gotland, London, Berlin or Buenos Aires to take a swim in these transient pools, creating an urban recreational activity that also brings back childhood memories of rainy play. The project was supported by Goethe-Institut Novosibirsk, the SoCCoS network and the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
Graw Böckler is the joint project of Berlin-based artists Ursula Böckler and Georg Graw, who together and independently work across the popular formats of video and still photography. In collaboration since 1997 and longtime affiliates of CTM Festival, the pair specialise in making music videos and loops, experimental films, and unauthorised commercials.
Dancer and choreographer Beio currently works and lives in Beijing. He commenced his pursuits in Butoh performance and choreography in 2009. He has collaborated with various national and international musicians and has also curated and participated in several improvisations based on Butoh and sound art. In 2012, Beio became involved in contemporary art performance and other forms of artistic creation.
Lena Willikens has graced the sweaty dancefloors of Cologne and Düsseldorf for years now. Equal parts DJ, producer and radio host, she is an established Friday night, vinyl-in-tow resident at Düsseldorf’s Salon des Amateurs, a member of the Cómeme clan and a regular contributor to that label’s monthly “Sentimental Flashback” internet mix.
As Le1f, producer and rapper Khalif Diouf makes playful, bold hip hop amalgams, often presented in conjunction with distinctive music videos. He is also known as a style icon, radical performer, and flag-bearer in the ever-expanding queer rap genre. He runs the label Camp & Street.
Tara Transitory, aka One Man Nation, makes work which some consider art, some music, and some trash. She’s a trans, nomadic explorer working at the intersection of gender, noise, ritual, sound, performance, and collective trance.
The kitschy, neon grotesquerie of Chinese artist Tianzhuo Chen takes its cues from a sprawling range of influences—from LGBTQ hip hop to the London rave scene, Japanese Butoh, New York vogue, manga, and the fashion world.
Swiss-born, Nepalese-Tibetan producer Aïsha Devi's hypnotic machine meditations fall somewhere between club music and ecstatic ritual. A classically trained soprano, Devi's recent work contorts and extends her own voice, experimenting with Eastern scales, chanting and the guttural drones of Tuvan throat singing.
Japanese duo group A was formed in 2012 by Tommi Tokyo (synthesizer, vocals, percussion) and Sayaka Botanic (violin, synthesizer, cassette tapes). Their shows, with their mixture of synth heavy minimal wave, avant noise, striking visuals and performance art, consistently deliver surprises to most spectators.