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Obscure Sorrows: Thoughts around the 9th Berlin Biennale

During the press preview of this summer’s 9th Berlin Biennale, in the main room of Kunst-Werke, I saw a distracted visitor who didn’t notice a pool of water surrounding a video installation. He ended up falling into it. This unintentional encounter apparently happened to many visitors, and it became a symbolically tragicomic way to begin my visit to the biennial: like a joke that is not funny, nor ironic. What is it then?

This time around, we are not talking about how an old generation controls the decision-making, or about what a young generation finds slick and appealing, or how it tells the old generation what’s new and cool. What is happening is not a generational issue in which an accelerated present takes precedence over an obsolete past and announces the abolition of the future it envisioned.

On November 26, 2016, the fortieth anniversary of the release of the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK,” Joe Corré, the son of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, plans to burn his collection of irreplaceable original punk memorabilia, valued at around £5 million. In a press release, Corré—who turned down membership in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire—said:

People are feeling numb. And with numbness comes complacency … The most dangerous thing is that they have stopped fighting for what they believe in. They have given up the chase. We need to explode all the shit once more … These days, everyone’s worried about their brand. We live in an age of conformity. Burning this gear is about saying we don’t subscribe to those values.

Read the full article here.