Kathrin Rhomberg in the catalogue of the 6th Berlin Biennale

Can [art] make disparate realities perceivable and prompt us to participate reflectively in them? That is the central question to be posed by the 6th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. How can it aid the viewer in assuring him/herself of his/her existence and of the world, in feeling more present in this world? Does it have the means at its disposal which film or other media and art forms do not? How can it call attention to the gap between the pseudo reality postulated by the public and personal life reality, how can it criticize this gap, or raise an awareness of it? How can it convey strange and unfamiliar realities by means other than hermetically sealed narrative forms, and thus reflect this strangeness in our own reality? In the midst of the overwhelming abundance of visual imagery produced incessantly by our media, how can reality and a critical view of its underlying conditions even be created? And finally, how does this reality relate to the present and its “passion for the real”?


No satisfactory answers to any of these questions will be found in the exhibition.

Indeed, the aim of the show is not to provide answers, but to pose questions. It will have reached this goal when it succeeds in calling attention to the questions. That is why the option of producing an exhibition catalogue of complete and argumentatively self-contained essays was abandoned. Instead it was decided that the catalogue would consist of transcripts of roundtable discussions required to fulfil only one criterion—to discuss reality.


If we recapitulate the developments and tendencies of the last two decades, we will be compelled to concede that contemporary art has not escaped the increasing economization of all areas of life. Considering art’s history, the hope that its traditional resilience to the dominating forces of society would prevent its suffocating usurpation proved to lack the very sense of reality this exhibition is appealing to.

Not only the financial world, but also the art world has recently dug itself into a realm far removed from reality, governed by fantasy and the conviction that even the most obvious illusion will prove meaningful. In this economically determined system, art has radically deregulated itself, in the name of freedom shed its autonomy and, often, even its contents. Like our world, it is characterized by economization, fragmentation, intractability. At the same time, there seems to be a connection between the impossibility of orientation in a world shaken by global crises on the one hand and, on the other hand, new forms of historicism and retrospection as well as a return to aesthetic and formal issues -- tendencies observed

in the Western art world over the past few years.


The exhibition seeks alternative standpoints on this perspective presently prevailing

in art, a perspective that is not directed at what is waiting out there, but is, on the contrary, introspective in nature.


6th Berlin Biennale. Catalogue

10th Berlin Biennale