Upcoming Events

25 Jahre Stiftung Springhornhof

21. September – 3. November 2024
Group Show, Springhornhof, Neuenkirchen

Flussbad Berlin

11. – 30. September 2024
Group Show, Roter Saal, Berlin

Current Events

Urban Art Biennale

26. April – 10. November 2024
Biennial, Völklinger Hüttte, Saarbrücken

The World In My Hand

18. April – 31. October 2024
Group Show, Alexanser Tutsek-Stiftung, München

The World in My Hand explores the smartphone as both object and aesthetic inspiration for artistic creation. It comments on public debates surrounding the many uses of smartphones: from always-on media consumption to digital detox, from swiping and matching to ghosting and blocking, from language atrophy to information overload, from resource depletion to status symbol.

The curators, Dr Jörg Garbrecht and Katharina Wenkler, have chosen a narrative approach to the exhibition. In eight chapters, they summarize various aspects and debates surrounding the smartphone, ranging from the launch date of our daily digital companion to its characteristic touchscreen and the contractions of time and space it enables. Deeply personal moments – such as Ai Weiwei’s selfie at the moment of his arrest or Sergey Melnitchenko’s photograph of his son during a blackout in Kyiv – appear alongside themes of perception and presentation of the self, as realized in the glass sculpture Stability by Julija Pociūtė. Other subjects include: looking for love online, as in Ariane Forkel’s Casanova’s Kabinett or John Yuyi’s Tinder Match; the complexities and pitfalls of digital communication, for example in the works of James Akers or Alejandra Seeber; and the smartphone as a means of staying in touch during pandemic lockdown isolation, for instance in the work of George McLeod. Edward Burtynsky’s photograph of lithium mines in the Atacama Desert calls attention to the topic of raw materials for electronic devices.

With works by:
Tornike Abuladze, James Akers, Ai Weiwei, Kate Baker, Aram Bartholl, Tillie Burden, Edward Burtynsky, Yvon Chabrowski, Julia Chamberlain, Rachel Daeng Ngalle, Erwin Eisch, Ariane Forkel, Shige Fujishiro, Valentin Goppel, David Horvitz, Artem Humilevskyi, Gudrun Kemsa, Zsuzsanna Kóródi, Brigitte Kowanz, George McLeod, Sergey Melnitchenko, Jonas Noël Niedermann, Julian Opie, Cornelia Parker, Katie Paterson mit Zeller & Moye, Julija Pociūtė, Rebecca Ruchti, Karin Sander, Jeffrey Sarmiento, Alejandra Seeber, JanHein van Stiphout, Jolita Vaitkute, Sascha Weidner, John Yuyi, Jeff Zimmer


Recent Events

Killyourphone workshop

13. April 2024
Workshop, Transmediale exhibition hosted by Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Berlin

14:00 – 16:00

Killyourphone is an open workshop format. Participants are invited to make their own signal blocking phone pouch. In the pouch the phone can’t send or receive any signals. It is dead! This workshop was run for the first time at the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg end of 2013.

Stitch Incoming!!

25. March 2024
Curatorial, Speed Show at Web Cafe, Athens

Monday 25th of March, 7:00 PM at Web Cafe, Eptanisou 40, 113 61 , Kypseli – Athens

!Mediengruppe Bitnik with Selena Savić & Gordan Savičić , Ingrid Hideki, Joanna Bacas, Kyriaki Goni, Maria Mavropoulou, Marina Gioti, Marsunev, Nadja Buttendorf, Theo Triantafyllidis

Curated by Aram Bartholl & Socrates Stamatatos

Speed Show lands in Greece, the country of souvlaki, the sun (yes we can claim that they originated a celestial body), ouzo, feta, an enormous financial debt. Currently, Greece is also trending for all the wrong reasons namely, gentrification, queerphobia, state crimes and more dystopic incidents.
As 2024 unfolds, we find ourselves amidst a whirlwind of confusion, bombarded with a cacophony of online horrors to consume, an attention span further abbreviated by TikTok’s algorithm and the barrage of incoming stitches.

Stitches Incoming serve as a conduit for creators to engage and converse, traversing from one topic to the next. They have evolved into a new social fabric, weaving connections within an ever-shifting digital and physical landscape while also serving as a testament to personal and collective traumas, both past and present.

What unites the participating digital artists? Perhaps everything and nothing simultaneously… Departing from the traditional Speed Show setup, where artworks are carefully stacked inside internet cafe computers, and drawing inspiration from the structure of TikTok stitches, each piece seems to propel the conversation forward, or perhaps uses the next as a springboard for its own narrative.

Stitch this and stitch that, we have everything you ever wanted (maybe) ! Are we stuck in an infinite loop of sh*tposting, valuable content, the highlight of social issues, personal and interpersonal experiences?
Maybe! Come and find out…

More info on Speed Shows at https://speedshow.net/stitch-incoming/

Killyourphone workshop

23. March 2024
Workshop, Transmediale exhibition hosted by Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Berlin

14:00 – 16:00

Killyourphone is an open workshop format. Participants are invited to make their own signal blocking phone pouch. In the pouch the phone can’t send or receive any signals. It is dead! This workshop was run for the first time at the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg end of 2013.

Killyourphone workshop

9. March 2024
Workshop, Transmediale exhibition hosted by Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Berlin

14:00 – 16:00

Killyourphone is an open workshop format. Participants are invited to make their own signal blocking phone pouch. In the pouch the phone can’t send or receive any signals. It is dead! This workshop was run for the first time at the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg end of 2013.


Colonial Shadows – Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin

December 19, 2022

[This article was published first in German in monopol magazin October 2021]

(photo: Aram Bartholl 2021)

Attempting to see the Neue Nationalgalerie in a different light

Berlin takes great pride in the newly renovated Neue Nationalgalerie but some aspects of Mies van der Rohe’s iconic building have been barely addressed. Guest contribution by artist Aram Bartholl.

After many years of renovation works, the jewel of Berlin’s museums, the Neue Nationalgalerie, was opened to the public once again at the end of August. Prior to and since its opening, this iconic piece of modern architecture has been repeatedly celebrated and praised with a multitude of print, radio, and television features. Berlin, and the art world, take so much pride in this building. In stark contrast is the recently opened Humboldt Forum, criticized for it backward-looking architecture and the accompanying painful discussions of German colonial history and art theft. A new building that cannot be celebrated but now the good old Neue Nationalgalerie has finally reopened without any problematic history, its modernist clarity can be enjoyed to the full. Or can it?

The genesis of Mies van der Rohe’s design is given a cursory mention in a few articles and reports. Plans of what would become the Neue Nationalgalerie were originally developed as the headquarters of spirits manufacturer Bacardi, which never was never realised, a detail one Deutschlandfunk presenter giggles about briefly before immediately gushing over the open floor plan and the building’s incredible transparency. But there is more to this story. How can a company headquarters turn into a museum? And why couldn’t the headquarters be built at the time? It is worth taking a look at the buiding’s history prior to it becoming the Neue Nationalgalerie.

Mies van der Rohe, former director of the Bauhaus, banned in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, stopped receiving commissions, so he emigrated to the US in 1938 to take up a professorship in Chicago. Recently, there has been renewed discussion about his relationship to National Socialism — it was said for years that van der Rohe was “apolitical.” His preference for glass and steel suit was a perfect fit for the high-tech building culture of the US and he rose to become one of the best-known architects in the country in a few short years. He was behind all of the iconic buildings that became modern architectural classics.

One of those is the famous Seagram building in New York, designed as Seagram Distillery’s headquarters and completed in 1958. Constructed from the highest quality materials, the skyscraper was a complete success and became a flagship for the Canadian distillery company. Competition was not far away. Bacardi, another successful distillery, wanted its own building designed by a star architect to promote the company. But not in New York — Bacardi was originally headquartered in Cuba.

Collage: Neue Nationalgalerie and original design sketch by Mies van der Rohe, 1957 (screenshot: MoMA collection website)

An administration building for Bacardi

In 1957, Mies van der Rohe was already on his way to Havana, were he sketched his first ideas for an administrative building on a cocktail napkin in the presence of Bacardi’s president, Jose Bosch. Though the Bacardi logo is featured, what would later become the Neue Nationalgalerie can already be recognised clearly in the sketch. Fun fact: van der Rohe misspellt “Bacardi.” The famous napkin with the first sketch of the building is now held in the MoMA collection.

Two years later, in January 1959, he presented the finished design of the building, a somewhat smaller version of the Neue Nationalgalerie, at the Hilton Hotel Havana. But that same month the political situation in crisis-ridden Cuba fundamentally changed. The communist revolution, led by Fidel Castro drove out despised President Batista and put an end to the military dictatorship. All the large landholdings and big companies were expropriated. As a result, the Bacardi family business fled abroad, and the administration building project fell apart from one day to the next.

It isn’t unusual for an art or architecture project to not work out for whatever reason, and it may be that it is realised later elsewhere. It doesn’t mean that the quality of the project suffers. It may even improve. In the case of the Nueu Nationalgalerie, however, it is interesting to take a closer look at the context of the initial planning of the building — both the function and the location of the building change radically in the eventual realisation. A closer look at the history of Cuba is pertinent here.

Collage: Neue Nationalgalerie, evolution of the design (video still: „Die Neue Nationalgalerie“, ein Film von Ina Weisse. 2017)

Cuba’s history is marked by many years of colonial exploitation, as are so many parts of Latin America. For centuries, Cuba was a colony of the Spanish crown, which made a fortune on the back of sugarcane cultivation on a massive scale. The “white gold” business was extremely lucrative, though profits came at the expense of generations of enslaved people who were brutally exploited — forced to work under inhumane conditions on the sugar plantations at the hands of Spanish colonists.

Cuba was the largest producer of sugar in the world for a very long time, meeting up to a third of Europe’s ever-growing demand for sugar. Molasses, a bypoduct of sugar cane processing, was often used in distilleries to make rum, which in turn, was used as a means of payment in the African slave trade. Bacardi, a traditional company, was founded in Cuba towards the end of the colonial period.

Collage: Neue Nationalgalerie and „Cuban Sugar Mills in the 19th Century“ (photo: latinamericanstudies.org)

Cuba’s sugar cane industry and Neue Nationalgalerie

Bacardi was founded in 1861 by Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, who had emigrated from Spain to Cuba. He was successful in using new processes to distill “rough” rum, which was known as a distinctive and very shelf-stable drink popular with sailors, into a higher quality white (clear) rum. Cuba, with its centuries-old history of sugar production, was naturally the ideal place for Don Facundo to set up a distillery specialised in rum. The raw ingredient, molassess, was available in large quantities at very reasonable prices. Cuba did not enact a complete ban on human trafficking until 1886, twenty years after the US and two years earlier than Brazil. The rest of Bacardi’s history is story of complete success, particularly during prohibition – the US ban on alcohol (1920-23) – when the company enjoyed the same immense growth as competitor Seagram in Canada.

But what does all this have to do with the Neue Nationalgalerie? What is it that makes the building so special? Of course, the open floor plan and the full transparency of the glass hall are fascinating. Supported by only eight pillars, the incredible roof made of 1200 tonnes of steel, floats at a height of 8.4 metres and spans a huge area, completely unencumbered. The glass façade underneath is set very far back. The roof projects seven metres beyond the façade on every side. And this is where it gets interesting. Van der Rohe had, of course, worked with overhanging rooves on other buildings; the overhang emphasises the floating nature of the roof slab, hanging as though the glass façade did not even exist. But there is another important reason for this overhang. Cuba, located in the Caribbean, has a tropical climate. The sun shines mercilessly, and shade is a prized commodity, especially for a full-glazed building. The cantilevered roof was clearly designed for Cuba’s climatic condissions. A former employee of van der Rohe’s office had this to say:

“The intense tropical sun in Santiago prompted Mies and Summers to modify the familiar glass box form used in Crown Hall by designing the large roof that shaded the main volume. This broad overhanging roof would become one of the signature elements of the New National Gallery, and although Mies had designed large overhangs before, the distinctive form it took in the late work emerged in the Bacardi project and was inspired in part by Cuban vernacular architecture. Summers recalled the development of the Santiago scheme: “… we were sitting under this overhang which was quite interesting, it was probably twenty feet high, it had long sort of colonial-like columns [with] probably twenty feet … between the column and the wall and we were sitting very comfortably on lounge chairs having a drink and I said to Mies, “this is kind of what we need to shelter the glass and to offer shadow and to keep the sun out of the inside. At least in the summertime.” (Kathryn E. O’Rourke (2012) Mies and Bacardi)

Collage: Neue Nationalgalerie and “Oak Alley Plantation“ Villa Louisiana USA, built in 1837. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Schinkel as a source of inspiration

We could now ask how the Neue Nationalgalerie would have even functioned as an administration building. The president of Bacardi wanted an open space for a trendy open-plan office. We can only speculate on the appropriateness of this large glass hall for such a purpose. It has always posed challenges when used as an exhibition space as well (for the Calder exhibition, the first thing put up was of course a huge white wall blocking the line of sight). It seems that the function of the building plays a subordinate role. Architectural historians all agree that van der Rohe’s ultra-modern designs refer to the architecture of ancient temples with his ultra-modern. The lower level of the museum, with its wide staircase, functions as a plinth, topped with a sublime columned temple of glass and steel.

Dirk Lohan, Mies van der Rohe’s grandson, has said that when his grandfather designed the Neue Nationalgalerie, he was clearly thinking of Schinkel’s Alte Museum. The fact that the original design had been intended for Cuba somehow didn’t seem to matter. Either way, Greek temples with their strict desing and construction rules, have always been an influence on architects, and naturally for Berlin master builder Schinkel. Plantation owners, however, liked to employ these same attributes to project a better image. A great example is “Oak Alley Plantation” Villa, built in Louisiana, in the southern US, in 1837. It is completely symmetrical, and its columns also holding up a wrap-around, shaded veranda. At that time, and even now, such references serve to show off perceived superiority and “gentlemanliness.”

You could be forgiven for mistaing the Bacardi design for a large, plantation owner’s villa rather than for an office building. The musem’s sculpture garden, enclosed by high walls, recalls the sheltered interior gardens found in stately homes in Cuba.

In short: next time you go to the Neue Nationalgalerie, check out the wide, overhanging roof and think about the building’s history. It had its beginnings with German architect, a luminary of modernism who had to shut down the Bauhaus, and who then became a member of the Reich Chamber of Culture before emigrating to the US. While there, he designed a temple for a globally operating company in crisis-ridden Cuba.

Neue Nationalgalerie as of today after renovations in summer 2021. (photo:Aram Bartholl)

Tropical Climate in Berlin

Like many other companies, Bacardi owed its success to the long and extremely brutal colonial history Europe imposed on the world. The island of Cuba is marked by a history of exploitation and military dictatorship. Work on “Villa Bacardi” was interrupted by the Cuban Revolution, but the design reappeared later as the Neue Nationalgalerie in cold Berlin.

And the irony of the story? The Neue Nationalgalerie stands on the exact spot that Hitler and his architect Albert Speer had earmarked for the House of Tourism, as part of the huge north-south axis planned for the capital of the Thousand Year Reich.

It’s not that cold in Berlin, not in the summer anyway, and the glass facades need shadows too. And so it is fortunate that when, in the not too distant future, Berlin will have a more tropical climate, this building, with its almost “proxy colonial history,” will already be on the right spot. When you stand there, in the shade of the 1200 tonne roof, think about the sugar cane fields of Cuba, and sugar cane, the same as what Chrosotpher Columbus brought back from the Carribean 500 years earler.

Aram Bartholl 2021

[This article was published first in German in monopol magazin October 2021]

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DALL-E Dead Drops

June 8, 2022

The artist Fabiola Larios described the Dead Drops to the AI picture generating system DALL-E.
It resulted in these generated pictures! 👏👏… love it! Thx! :))

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Hypernormalization at HMKV House of Mirrors

May 1, 2022

Hypernormalization at HMKV House of Mirrors, ‘Facebook, Twitter Co zerschlagen ZDF Aspekte 29.4.2022

MoMA collection

March 10, 2022

The MoMA aquired 10 photographs in 2021 https://www.moma.org/artists/39302

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I don’t need to own art.

February 16, 2022

A thread unroll of a text about ntfs and digital art I posted on Twitter today.

I wrote a text about nfts from a digital art perspective but wasn’t very happy with it. Instead I condensed it into these 18 tweets. I hope you find some interesting angles.

+++ I don’t need to own art. +++

A thread:

Blockchain, nfts and smart contracts are not the new medium. The driving force in making art with nfts is a very old one: It is money! Andy Warhol: „Making money is art, good business is the best art.“ The promise of ‘getting rich quick!’. Sadly money is the medium here.

The art market is governed by money. Success of art works is measured in prices. This is not helping the quality of art, on the contrary it often distorts the art. Congrats! We have the same system in place for digital art now. Ownership mindset in a space of abundance.

Science built a very powerful and open Web/Internet with no commerce in mind. We’ve already lost the openness to the mega platforms. Now the crypto-bros try to add a full blown digital property layer on top of everything. This will not help make the world a better place.

It’s the irony of history that netart of the 90s, which explored a true new medium is returning now in this flat form of expensive jpgs. Back then the art world didn’t know how to handle netart. Today nfts enter the market from the very top with record auction sales.

The Post Internet generation, which came from netart was the first one to successfully enter the commercial art world. Because they made sculptures and prints after the Internet. But suddenly jpgs and gifs online are the big financial winner. The Internet art paradox.

Now there is again a vibrant scene of online art going on and certainly interesting works are being produced. But the nft space is annoyingly loud with a lot of toxic stories and desperate jpgs. It hurts to see established digital artists in crypto whale group show auctions.

Yes, make netart. Build websites. It’s great you finally can live from it. But don’t rip off your fan base with 1000$ podcast bundles. Whales have endless coins while people with no money buy in for 0.3 Eth out of FOMO. At least make sure they get something real and it lasts.

Many articles and videos explained already why the crypto game is a pyramid scheme. For people in the traditional art market this is not a real problem. Because it is the same game there. Attention hype, art clowns, rigged markets, pump and dump and so on. This is fine.

Galleries love nfts but institutions and museums with public funding have a different responsibility. Think hard about what you are showing and why? With nft shows you are normalizing a problematic and wasteful system. Critical works don’t need to be on but about blockchains.

It was beautiful to witness the past 20 years, to see digital art evolve. Yes, there have always been trends, discussion and unexpected forks. But the current hype about ntfs is a game changer. Despite my criticism I understand the attraction of the unique identifiable file.

I proposed this idea even myself ten years ago. But already back then @GIFmodel pointed such a system would not help the art in netart. And here we are: massive pyramid speculation with jpgs and museums losing tokens send to a wrong wallet address. https://web.archive.org/web/20130914141217/http://ny-magazine.org/issues.html

I was naive about art markets but interested to see digital art being represented better in the art world. For this I created exhibition formats like “Speed Shows” in internet cafes or routers on gallery walls, “Offline Art”. http://speedshow.net/ https://arambartholl.com/offline-art-new2/

At the @MovingImageNYC visitors could burn a DVD outside the museum building or “Full screen” was a show with works on smart watches. I was interested seeing netart in the space, bound to situations, breaking expectation. https://arambartholl.com/dvd-dead-drop/ https://arambartholl.com/full-screen/

I wonder what will be left in a decade or two of the nft production from the last couple years. It is an interesting phenomenon from a Internet folklore point of view. Massive amounts of poor images being produced in hope of getting rich quick. A feast for net anthropology?

Once this hype will fade and the art crowd moves on to the next new thing, nfts will become another chapter of digital art, and people will wonder how crazy that was. @errafael pointed this out in context of the Wikipedia case rejecting nfts as art.

In his book “Krypto Kunst” german art critic @koljareichert delivers a very nuanced extensive analysis of what’s going with nfts and crypto art but in a podcast interview he concludes with “… to watch animations on screens is boring.” I don’t agree.

I love digital art. There is such a rich history of screen based works. It is important to acknowledge and remember them. Especially because working digitally became so normal in all kinds of art practices. The nft hype hasn’t brought much new to the table, except toxic $$.

I don’t need to own art.


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Kunstforum International

December 16, 2021
  • Kunst forum International #297 Jan-Feb 2022
    Oliver Zybok „Memes – Ursprünge und Gegenwart“ Kunstforum International #297 Jan-Feb 2022, page 55
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Schatten Kubas

October 21, 2021

I wrote an article about the Neue Nationalgalerie and its initial design as headquater for Bacardi on Cuba.  It is available to read at monopol magazin (in german).


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La Grande Bibliotheque ferme

May 20, 2021

In 2015 I projected 10k leaked passwords on the national library Quebec as part of a public art show in Montreal. It’s 2021 and the library is closed because of a hacked database and leaked personal info etc … ¯\_ (ツ) _/¯

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Artforum – Greetings from Berlin

April 25, 2021

Grand Facades, March 16, 2021 • Kristian Vistrup Madsen on the Humboldt Forum in Berlin

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Double opening – HAW student shows

February 21, 2021

Posthumanism Explained, online exhibition, opening!! Tuesday 23.2. 18:00 -> https://posthumanism-explained.common.garden/ (computer browser recommended!) Results of the Blockseminar “Virtual Reality – Real Virtuality”, 3D and VR experiments, WiSe20/21, Prof. A.Bartholl, Kunst mit digitalen Medien, Design, DMI, HAW Hamburg.

with: Tobias Bartenschlager, Lukas Besenfelder, Stefano Dealessandri, Frederik Engelbrecht, Julika Hother, Vanessa Könemund, Katharina Mumme, Amyra Radwan, Sandy Richter, Luisa Striepe, Alexandra Vögtle & Sebastian Ziemann

The Danger Of A Single Story, online exhibition, opening!! 23.2. 18:00 -> https://the-danger-of-a-single-story.common.garden/ (computer browser recommended!) Projects on the topic of memorials and postcolonial discourse, results of the class “Denkmal”, WiSe20/21, Prof. A. Bartholl, Kunst mit digitalen Medien, Design, DMI, HAW Hamburg

with: Stefano Dealessandri, Konstantinas Grigalaitis, Stephan Kraus, Julia Löffler, Matasova Mariia, Sandy Rrichter, Janna Thaden, Anna Wank & Lorenz Wendt

Both exhibitions build with https://common.garden , thx!

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