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Festivals & Events


One of the first big events in the year in Berlin is taking place in the middle of winter: the CTM FESTIVAL. It’s a 10-day marathon of cultural and countercultural input, paired with discourse, club culture and art. If you want to know what’s the state of the art in underground music culture(s), you need to check out CTM BERLIN, short for Club Transmediale.

During the festival, you’ll find performances by electronic music veterans, such as Robert Henke, next to underground gems like Sherelle. The intersection of so many fields demands diversity – and the festival’s political agenda doesn’t fall short on integrating different identities, backgrounds and experiences.

This year’s theme – “Liminal“ – points towards the spaces in-between and states that are neither here nor there. What a fitting theme for a festival that houses a broad range of different discursive practices under one roof.

Looking at the festival’s theme gives an insight into the current momentum of cultural practices. We are indeed in a liminal state, the beginning of a new decade and the ever-changing political agenda as well as a global climate, that has gone off the rail. Where are we right now as a culture? We have no idea what’s going to emerge. All that’s left, is to experience the liminal and explore it with our fullest attention. Both critical and joyful – in discussion as much as in dancing.

A must-see during the festival are the numerous exhibitions. A highlight of this year’s edition is taking place at Botanischer Garten: an immersive sound installation invites us to take a stroll through Western scientific discourses. “You Will Go Away One Day But I Will Not“ by Maria Thereza Alves and Lucrecia Dalt sure sounds promising and runs daily, a nice reason to head out to Botanischer Garten.

ctm festival berlin 2020
Pau Delgado Iglesias, still from “Estar igual que el resto / To be like the others.”

Another artistic endeavour takes place at KQB Kunsthaus in Bethanien. The festival exhibition is always a melting pot for multiple perspectives on the festival’s theme, this year under the title “Interstitial Spaces“. If you’re around, check out the various workshop formats hosted in the same building.

But you’ve come to a music festival, so let’s talk about music. Robert Henke inhabits a niche in electronic music: his studio is known for its more experimental approaches to the genre, always mixing his musical output with a team that has a knack for hardware. This year he’ll perform a show with Commodore computers, rewired to deliver musical and visual output.

Photo from CTM’s website

To put the club in CTM, we recommend checking out the Thursday night at Berghain. Artist Born in Flames will be behind the decks, performing their gender and genre-bending mix of deconstructed pop, lo-fi, grime, and classical music. If you’re into UK bass, be sure not to miss out on Sherelle. She’s one of the leading figures in the recent come back of bass music!

Photo from CTM’s website

As every year, CTM seeks to give impulses for artistic expression and political participation. Consequently, the programme will be accompanied by talks and lectures. Curious about music-related activism in South America? Don’t miss out on the lecture “The Voices and Sounds of Latin American Resistance“. Learn about how music can be a tool used to fight for freedom, decolonisation and democratic and social progress.

With so much on the plate, CTM 2020 looks as culturally pleasing as every year. The recommendations above are just a few highlights of all the things to see. Be sure to watch out for new and exciting artists in the spaces in-between.

CTM 2020: Liminal, 24.01.2020 – 02.02.2020 in different venues.

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