10th Berlin Biennale: We don’t need another hero

What to expect from this new edition, running through 9 September across five venues

By ArtReview

Dineo Sheshee Bopape, Untitled (Of Occult Instability) [Feelings], 2016–18, bricks, light, sounds, videos, water, framed napkin, dimensions variable. Photo: Timo Ohler. Courtesy the artist Ana Mendieta, Untitled, ca. 1983–85, Ink and wash on paper, 33 × 21,3 cm, Private collection, Modena, courtesy Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan; Galerie Lelong & Co., New York Portia Zvavahera, Hapana Chitsva (All is Ancient), 2018, oil-based printing ink and oilstick on canvas, triptych, part III, 204 × 126 cm. Courtesy the artist and Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg

The Berlin Biennale is here again, it being two years since the last one. Curated this time by Gabi Ngcobo and titled, with due credit to Tina Turner and the Mad Max franchise, We don’t need another hero, the 10th edition aims to refract our current moment of ‘collective psychosis’ while boldly promising not to give a coherent reading of it at all, or to suggest, as per the title, that anyone in particular can save us. Instead Ngcobo (supported by a curatorial team composed of Nomaduma Rosa Masilela, Serubiri Moses, Thiago de Paula Souza and Yvette Mutumba) persuasively asserts that we need ‘different configurations of knowledge and power that enable contradictions and complications’, and she’s engaged 46 artists and collectives – 74 fewer than previous curators DIS employed last time – to specify how. Among them, former ArtReview Future Great Dineo Seshee Bopape (presenting an immersive installation reflecting on trauma and the work of psychiatrist Frantz Fanon), the late Ana Mendieta (represented through her lesser-known works on paper), Portia Zvavahera (showing an epic new triptych) and Luke Willis Thompson (with works including his Turner-Prize nominated film autoportrait, 2017). 

Meanwhile, familiar venues such as the Akademie der Künste, Kunst-Werke and the Volksbühne pavilion are augmented by the ZK/U – Center for Art and Urbanistics in Moabit – where the young artists are moving to these days – as well as Kreuzberg’s HAU Hebbel am Ufer. The latter will be hosting two evenings of events looking at Kwaito, a music style that emerged out of Soweto post-Apartheid, and aptly scheduled on 15–16 June to mark the forty-second anniversary of the 1976 Soweto student uprising.

The biennale’s public programme, I’m Not Who You Think I’m Not – also pointing to ideas of refusal and negation – will kick off on the opening weekend with performances by Las Nietas de Nonó, Koleka Putuma and Sinethemba Twalo and Ismaël Imansoeradi, book and publication launches and a screening of Dineo Seshee Bopape’s latest film Title unknown at time of publication, and will continue throughout the duration of the biennale (through 9 September).

See here for the full list of artists

See here for the full public programme

8 June 2018